Saturday, July 25, 2009

Quit Procrastinating Tomorrow

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"Fiddle deedee, I'll worry about that tomorrow." Scarlett O’Hara, the heroine in Gone With the Wind, made a habit of shoving a lot onto the next calendar day, and she has plenty of modern companions, including me.

Procrastination is putting off a project until a later date, especially habitually doing so. Delaying decisions, avoiding messy projects or putting off confrontations is as common as sunsets. But wait. Help is available!

Hypnotists claim they can de-procrastinate dawdlers. The Japanese developed psychological strategies for dealing with the hesitant. Books and DVDs offer self-help, but they still need to be bought and read and watched. That’ll probably happen tomorrow, too.

Support groups exist for stallers. If I attended such a meeting, I imagine the warm welcome, as reformed procrastinators offer help, “Hello, my name is Cathy, and I’m a procrastinator.”

Written centuries ago, Solomon’s advice is still relevant today, “Whatever you hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). The same verse in The Message is, “Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!”

Our natural world goes through seasons of growth, disposal, and rest each year. These cycles keep our environment tidy and functional, and order would dissolve and chaos would reign if any season skipped its timeslot.

Most of us have experienced the sheer joy of completing a dreaded project. It may have been laundering the Saint Bernard or cleaning out the fridge, but a carefree spirit cloaks shoulders when any overdue project is done.

Today, I plan to change a bad habit. I will spend 30 minutes each day sorting through old paperwork until the stack is diminished. Most will not even have to be stored, but will go into the recycle bin or shredder.

Trying to change one bad habit at a time is a good thing. My husband loves to tease about too much personal change by saying, “I don’t want to be too perfect—got to leave room for a little improvement.”

Closet cleaning, e-mail reading, house painting, eating healthy, exercising — are any of those on tomorrow’s list? Fred Brooks observed, “How does a project get to be a year behind schedule? One day at a time.”

I’m truly hoping and praying to do better in all my tomorrows. What about you? “At a steady rate, we procrastinate. I’ve only this to say—if tomorrow ever gets here, it’ll be a busy day!”

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