Are you a Procrastinator?
I am a 38! No, I am not 38, but I scored a 38 on a procrastinator quiz with Mindtools. I learned that I was a mild procrastinator. I find my score rather funny, as I was procrastinating writing this week, by taking a procrastinator quiz. So are you a procrastinator? Take the quiz on Mindtools and see what your score is?
It seems I am really a pretty good procrastinator, as I often find other jobs to do in order to avoid doing the ones that I don’t want to do, like cleaning out the garage or basement, for example. It is not that I want the stress of waiting until the last-minute, because I hate the pressure. But sometimes, I can’t seem to motivate myself in the right direction when the task seems overwhelming.
Joseph Ferrari, Ph. D, professor of psychology at DePaul University, in Chicago, has done extensive research on the life of a procrastinator. (DePaul University, 2013) Â He says thatÂ aÂ true procrastinator will tell themselves five lies:
- They overestimate the time they have left to perform tasks.
- They underestimate the time it takes to complete tasks.
- They overestimate how motivated they will feel the next day, the next week, the next month — whenever they are putting things off to.
- They mistakenly think that succeeding at a task requires that they feel like doing it.
- They mistakenly believe that working when not in the mood is ineffective.
The other methods that a classic procrastinator will do is actively seek or look for other distractions. Nothing of course that will be too taxing or require a major commitment, just enough to distract themselves, yet appear as if they are really accomplishing something. An example of this would be checking email. It looks productive, but perhaps it isn’t necessary at that moment. There can be many issues or excuses for the procrastinator, but often the biggest obstacle of a procrastinator is their fear of failure.
I call this the ”white canvas” effect. One of the biggest hurdles to overcome, when beginning a painting is to just put some color on the clean, pristine, white space of the canvas. I, not only have experienced this myself, but have silently watched students, just stand and stare at the space instead of just putting the brush to the canvas, it is the fear or being afraid of making a mistake, of messing up that clean white space. I have often said, ”It is just paint. If you don’t like it, let it dry and paint over it.” Somehow the confidence to just make a stroke helps you overcome the fear of not being able to perform the job or overcome a challenging scene. I have learned over the years, for both myself and students, that if you just ”kill” the white with some color, it helps you overcome being a procrastinator and the obstacle of the ”white canvas” effect, motivating you instead to move forward. It is because your focus does not get wrapped up in the final outcome and the overwhelming task of it all, but in the accomplishable step by step stride of the immediate focus.
This week, our verse is the great encouragement of David to his son, Solomon, as he tells him to not be afraid to move forward for God is with you and He will not fail you. David is telling his son about the magnificent task that he will do, as he builds the Temple for God. David knew this was an honored task, but also one that would be difficult and monumental. Solomon could quickly be overcome with the anxiety of fear and failure of all the work to be completed, if he forgot that God would be with him every step of the way, guiding him as he went. Solomon could easily turn into a procrastinator and delay the job, to avoid making a mistake, but David gave him the tool to overcome that fear.
There is no job too big for God. There is encouragement found in that fact, along with gained strength,Â for God is always with us. When we focus on God and His will, living our life for Him, there simply are no jobs too big. We can confidently move forward with courage and strength, leaving behind our tendency to procrastinate and whine, because beginning seems too daunting.
Fear is overcome as we focus on God, knowing that He is always with us. Sometimes there are tasks or situations put before us, which require us to reset our focus on the creator, being dedicated to doing the right thing, knowing that God will never fail us.
Then David continued, ”Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly. 1 Chronicles 28:20 (NLT)
Avoid becoming a Procrastinator
It seems that fear is often the biggest obstacle to overcoming procrastination or becoming a procrastinator. Fear however, will not enter our mind if we are focusing on God. It is through Him, that we will find the strength and courage to just ”get on with it”. Sometimes though when we allow our focus to wane, it seems we cannot see past the task and we become discouraged with what seems like a big job that isn’t doable.
By placing God first and making Him our focus, we can then break our tasks down into small chunks, continuing to move forward,Â working to focus and not to fear. This will help avoid becoming the dreaded procrastinator. Dr. Ferrari has several recommendations for strategies to reduce procrastination. I have taken the liberty to re-purpose them, to overcome procrastination when doing ”God Jobs” by using God as your focus. What is a God Job? It is everyday living, for there is no job too big or small for God. So live and work your life in the light and without fear.
- Make a list of everything God wants you to do. ”“ When we focus on the tasks of God’s will, the other jobs will fail in significance.
- Write a bold statement of intention to God.Â –A covenant, so to speak, announcing your dedication to following God’s will, to the best of your ability, no matter how overwhelming the job may seem.
- Set realistic goals. ”“ Saving the world is not a realistic goal, but inviting someone to church or Bible study is.
- Break it down into specific tasks, knowing clearly God’s will.Â -Â This requires extra study to know with clarity God’s will, as the Bible reveals it, and then being specific to how you will personally accomplish these tasks.
- Make your task meaningful. ”“ This is a given as all tasks done for the glory of God is meaningful. You don’t even have to work on this one.
- Promise yourself a reward. – The greatest reward is ours for believing in Christ. This reward is the ultimate ending in eternity, but the immediate reward is the peace and joy found by living your life for God.
- Eliminate the tasks you never plan to do. ”“ There is no fooling God, even privately, so be fully aware of what you are and are not going to do. Remember though there is no job too big for God.
- Estimate the amount of time you think it will take you to complete a task and then increase the amount by 100% – Knowing that God is with you creates an endless time-frame, know your human limitations on time, but recognize that when doing God’s work, time is endless.
David challenged Solomon to overcome his fear and avoid becoming a procrastinator by facing the fear with God. Adhere to David’s challenge and be convicted to move forward into God’s will, doing his tasks, no matter if the job is to build a temple or simply invite someone to church. You can be comforted in knowing that your procrastination can easily be overcome, when your focus and knowledge is secure in the fact that God is always with you. When placing your focus on Him, there is no task that can overwhelm you, and procrastination becomes a thing of the past.
Love in Christ,
Post Script I
”God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.”
”•Â Augustine of Hippo
Post Script II
”Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone”
Credits DePaul University . (2013, May 3). DePaul University Alumni Sharing Knowledge (DePaulASK). Retrieved September 4, 2015, from Ask Website: http://depaulask.posthaven.com/procrastination-is- not-about-time-management-dot-dr-joe-ferrari-at- the-ask-april-2013-breakfast
Â What are your thoughts? Join Us in Discussion
Are you a procrastinator? Do you procrastinate when God is pushing you in a direction you are unsure about? Have you learned to face your fear knowing that God is with you? Join us in discussion on avoiding procrastination with God.