I don’t think a 12-step program exists for people who are addicted to procrastination, but if there was we may all be working the steps for the next coin or medallion. Lately, I’ve been reaping the benefits of planning things out in advance. Tackling actual obstacles in my life slowly but surely. Using a tactic other than avoidance to treat things with. It’s liberating.
Planning for major purchases. Implementing ideas and doing work that I think will make life easier one year from now at my job. Getting groceries and items that I’m going to need before I am in a “needed it yesterday” kind of situation. Washing one basket of laundry weekly instead of waiting until it looks like a nation of messy people have dropped off their dry-cleaning and need it all done before 7AM the next day. Writing birthday, graduation, and thank you notes before these milestones have actually taken place (pictured).
But for years of my life, I’ve been very last-minute in my approach towards a lot of things. (Almost) everyone that I know lives by the “I work better under pressure” mantra. And that last-minute pressure wasn’t killing me but it also wasn’t very fun. In all of the work I’ve had to do for this Spanish class, I’ve found that pacing myself and doing a couple of assignments each day versus saving them all for the night that they are due is a huge game-changer for me. Not only do I feel less panic, I am retaining the information necessary to pass the class and carry conversation and even (omg) enjoy it. Who would have thought.
I would say that the most common misconception about procrastination is that it’s a time management issue. Totally silly. One article I found states that, “time management is repeatedly offered as a solution for procrastination. Although time management can be part of a process for addressing deadline forms of procrastination, procrastination is rarely an exclusive time management issue.”
One website committed to couples plagued with additions of a particular kind suggests that “The relief that an individual experiences when they are procrastinating often provides the same type of temporary relief that a chemical addiction provides. Additionally, it creates a sense of entitlement that the individual “deserves” to not feel the pain associated with the task.”
Another article I came across offered twelve helpful steps to “overcome” procrastination. The point that resonated the most for me was their thought on accepting one’s own imperfection and it’s connection to procrastination.
The article states that we ought to “expand [our] paradigm of a job well done.” I am prone to fixate on this idea of perfection and (ironically) procrastination when I have a deep seeded belief that I will not be able to do something perfectly. It’s a…perfect storm.
The most vivid example of this is in my life is the struggle with my weight and with treating my body in healthy, loving ways. I remember for the longest time (probably years) that I would put off a diet or making the better decision for my body and well-being because it was a Wednesday. Or a Thursday. And who STARTS making good decisions on any day besides the first day of the week when there’s a clean slate? Truthfully, I have no idea where that thought and pattern even came from. I cannot pinpoint its inception, but it’s been part of my inner dialogue since I’ve HAD inner dialogues.
Three years ago this May is when I first decided to take my health seriously. If I didn’t start caring about it then, when I was single and the world was before me (post-graduation), childless, and at a sort of “crossroads” in my life, I didn’t think I ever would. There would always be something in the way.
The irony is that even since I made that conscious decision, there have been seasons of procrastination. When I started out, I never had a weight goal in mind. On a selfish and surface level, I just wanted to look good and stop feeling so horrible and like I was trailing behind all of my peers. I didn’t feel normal, and I craved that (to a fault). I felt it was really affecting the way I interacted with people. It was slowing me down in all senses of the word.
So for the last three years, I’ve lost about 60 pounds. There is a lot to celebrate there! I constantly fight this internal voice that says “you haven’t lost enough” and “you could have lost more.” I know that not everyone goes through weight loss in the same way or on the same trajectory — so it has been easy to overlook periods of passivity with ideas of “I’ll get there sooner or later.” But where is “there.” For procrastinators, “there” is not always defined.
Society makes it easy to be confused about all of this too. I’ve had a good bit of anxiety about the “best” way to go about achieving whatever results I want because even the doctors can’t agree about what is good for you, what is bad, etc. I can’t wait around for everyone to agree before I start acting on my own health in the best way I know how. Because at the beginning of each day, I have the power to make the best decisions for myself for that day. Each day I have this power, and I don’t want to let it cripple me.
For where I am now, I know how much more I’d like to lose. And it hasn’t been until the last two weeks that I’ve started to take that to heart and make those changes. That perfectionist voice is so fearful of failure and of never meeting that goal of 60 more pounds. I’ve had to say to myself that it won’t matter if I get to point B because it may never have been in the cards for me to get there. I may end up at point C or point M for that matter. The destination could likely change along the way. And for this procrastinator, that has to be okay.