I know that I am way too tempted by new exciting creative projects that also make me think 'I'll do that other task later'. So I also have to start off with apologising for not posting as regularly recently - I've actually not been procrastinating with my blog (I love it too much), I've just been pre-occupied with all sorts of other things... probably due to the fact that I procrastinate and leave other things to the last minute - ha ha.
Actually I've become allot better in recent years, for instance only tonight I finished dinner and immediately set out to pack the dishwasher - even before I had my after-dinner cup of tea. But then I've also come to realise that trying to persuade myself I'll do it later only leads to frustration because 'later' becomes 'too late'. My worst moment was only a couple of weekends ago - we had friends coming over for lunch at our house and I wanted to mop our floor after a naught muddy pawed dog had trailed his way through the house. I had the whole Saturday morning to do it, but put it off until 20 minutes before our friends arrived. They of course arrived early and I found myself staring at them through the front door window mop and bucket in hand and they had to walk on a wet floor to come in. Not my best moment.
In the times we live with the hundreds of distractions available to us with a flick of a switch or a click of a button, procrastinating is easier than ever! And procrastination is probably the biggest problem in keeping a home clean and tidy and presentable. So is it possible to overcome procrastination? Well, I'd love to try, so I've been researching this topic a bit and I'd like to share with you what I've found.
Good 'ol Wikipedia says:
Procrastination is a type of behavior which is characterized by deferment of actions or tasks to a later time. Psychologists often cite procrastination as a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision.  Psychology researchers also have three criteria they use to categorize procrastination. For a behavior to be classified as procrastination, it must be counterproductive, needless, and delaying.
Okay, so I realise that not EVERY task left undone in a house is due to procrastination - but it certainly does play a part. If you know that you put tasks off without a real valid reason, then read on.
Putting tasks off for 'later' happens when we don't have a routine. I've written about routines previously, and mentioned that it takes 21- 30 days to create a new habit. So it's important to turn a routine into a habit ... just part of everyday. That way you will do tasks without having to think about them or give yourself the choice. Flylady.com is great for setting up a home cleaning routine through baby steps.
The trick with a routine is to realise that it's easier to get out of a routine than it is to get into it. Illness and holidays are two real routine breakers. Next time you are ill or on holiday write a to-do list for when you are better or back home. Give yourself a deadline to get back into your routine and stick to it.
This is one big reason many of us procrastinate. We are so adamant to do a task perfectly, that if we don't have ALL the time available to us that we think we'll need to complete a task perfectly, we'll just put it off hoping the time will come. This is where we need to change our mindsets and realise that picking up just that one pair of shoes from under the sofa is better than not picking up any of them. A good way of overcoming the 'perfectionist procrastinator' is to use 5 minutes available to you to do a task regardless of whether you will be able to finish that task. For example, if you have 5 minutes of waiting for a friend to pick you up, start sorting out your book pile next to your bed - you don't have to finish it, but at least you've made a start.
This is the trick I use most often. I know that I procrastinate because I can ALWAYS find something better to do (like reading all your lovely blogs!). So I tell myself that I can have a cup of tea after I pack the dishwasher, or I can surf the net for 1/2 hour after I vacuum the rug in the living room. It works, but don't make it too serious and tell yourself 'I can't have x until I've completed y' - try and stay positive and just tell yourself you are doing this task so that you can relax with your treat.
Another big reason we procrastinate is because a task often seems to big to handle right now. This can also be linked to perfectionism. Have you ever had a pile of laundry at the end of a weekend or holiday that made you think it's just too much to do? And that you'll never have the time to get through all of it? In this case I try and break the task down into smaller tasks. For instance I'll separate the laundry into small piles - one for each day of the week. And then I make sure to put that pile of laundry allocated to that day on first thing in the morning. Even if it takes a couple of weeks, as long as you do the smaller tasks regularly enough it will get done!
Most importantly, try and remember how nice it is to relax after something has been completed, you feel all the better for it!
Do you procrastinate? And what's your favourite distraction?
I sure hope to become better and better at doing things as they present themselves. Do it now, then it's done... I'll keep telling myself that.
Another great resource for overcoming procrastination is:
I'm on holiday! Sort of...
I must just take the time to let you all know that I will be flying to South Africa this week to spend some time with my mum who has suffered from a bad knee and has had two operations on it now. I will also be seeing my brand new niece back home! My next post might only be in a couple of weeks as a result, but I'm hoping to do a post about home keeping in South Africa, and pick up some tips from my mum's home. I hope you all have a lovely two weeks!!!