Rodney A. Brooks
Professor Maggie Williams
“How to End Procrastination” Rodney A. Brooks
How many of you have started working on a mission, or job idea that you know could bring you and your family out of debt? How many of you have intended to start your business plans by setting a scheduled time to prepare but you don’t ever get to start? How many of you are still working on last year’s resolution? ……… Procrastination is a universal problem.
Most of us know what we need to do, we just put it off. The problem with procrastination is that it becomes a way of life, a lifestyle. The more you do it the better you become at it. Some people are professional procrastinators. They are very, very good at it. After extensive research I’ve come up with the portrait of the procrastinator. (A procrastinator is somebody with a wait problem.)
The Bible has a lot to say about procrastination. James 4:17 “Anyone who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” I know the things I ought to do and I don’t do them. And I know the things I shouldn’t do and I do, do those. But I procrastinate on the things I really want to change in my life. Why?
We’re going to look at the Meaning of Procrastination, Causes of procrastination, the Effects of procrastination, and the Remedy for procrastination.
I. THE MEANING OF PROCRASTINATION
According Merriam-Webster.com. Procrastinate means: to put off intentionally and habitually. Taken from the root word Procrastinate; to be slow, or late about doing something that should be done : to delay doing something until a later time because you do not want to do it, because you are lazy, etc.
The Mindset of a procrastinator.
Phase 1 — I’ll start early this time.
Phase 2 — I’ve got to start soon.
Phase 3 — I should have started sooner.
Phase 4 — There’s still time to do it.
Phase 5 — What’s wrong with me?
Phase 6 — I can’t wait any longer!
Phase 7 — Just get it done!
Phase 8 — Next time I’ll start earlier.
The cycle repeats itself.
Procrastination was my sin
It only brought me sorrow
I knew that I had to give it up
In fact, I will — tomorrow!
I. THE CAUSES OF PROCRASTINATION
The key to overcoming procrastination is to understand why I do it. The Bible says you procrastinate for one of five reasons.
Indecision causes procrastination. “A double minded man is unstable in all he does.” James 1:8. Have you ever sent a waiter away at a restaurant because you couldn’t make up your mind? Indecision causes you to postpone buying a car, choosing a college, getting married, buying new clothes, changing a job.
Perfectionism causes us to procrastinate. “If you wait for perfect conditions, you’ll never get anything done!” Perfectionism produces procrastination. It causes all kinds of problems. If you wait for things to be perfect, you’re going to wait a long time. You don’t have the time or the money for things to be perfect.
The Bible says “The fear of man is a trap.” When I’m afraid I put things off. How many of you have been postponing going to the dentist? Or having that needed surgery? Or getting that marriage counseling? Or that appointment with the IRS? Making that sales call? Sharing your faith at work?
Ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?”
Anger causes procrastination. Proverbs 18:9 “A lazy person is as bad as someone who is destructive.” Procrastination is a way at getting back at people we don’t like. We delay. Kids are great at procrastination. You ask them to clean up their room. They do it but they take so long doing it. Some of you have a mate and say, “Every time I ask my mate to do something, I’ve been after them for months and months and they’re not doing it.” One of the reasons may be that they’re resisting your control. Procrastination is passive resistance. I don’t want to do it because I don’t like you. Or I don’t like you telling me to do what I have to do. Anger causes us to put things off.
Proverbs 13:4 “Lazy people want much but get little, while the diligent are prospering.” Our generation has a low tolerance for pain. We don’t like to be frustrated. We are a nation of couch potatoes. One of the most popular words in America is “easy”. If it’s easy we like it. If it’s hard we don’t like it. Can you imagine a best seller Ten Difficult Steps to Change Your Life or Fifteen Difficult Ways To Get In Shape. If it’s easy we like it. If it’s hard we don’t like it.
II. THE EFFECTS OF PROCRASTINATION
There’s a couple of misconceptions about procrastination. When you procrastinate you’re saying to yourself, “It’s easier to avoid this than to face it” and that’s wrong. The other one is “It will be easier to handle tomorrow, later” and that’s wrong too.
It causes great problems in our life. The Bible tells us that there is a cost to procrastination.
1. It causes problems
Proverbs 15:19 “A lazy person has trouble all through life.” The Good News says, “If you’re lazy you’ll meet difficulty everywhere.”
True confession: I used to frequently run out of gas. How many times did I set there and watch the gage going down thinking, “It’s not convenient to fill up right now. I’ll get it later.” And I always pay for it! It’s always worse than if I’d just stop and take the time to fill up with gas. Procrastination makes the problems worse.
How many of you have home repairs you’ve been putting off? They’re getting worse. You’re going to go home and the roof is going to fall in! Because you let it get worse. Procrastination takes a problem and makes it a crisis. The longer you wait to start the harder it becomes to begin.
2. It wastes opportunities
Proverbs 20:4 “If you won’t plow in the cold, you won’ eat at harvest.” Make hay while the sun shines. When opportunity knocks, open the door! Take advantage while you’ve got it. If you don’t, you’ll miss it. Whittier said, “The saddest words of tongue and men are `It might have been.'” If only… While we’re postponing, life is speeding by. Procrastination ruins opportunities.
3. It hurts people.
Procrastination hurts other people. Laziness prevents us from being loving. Love requires commitment, energy, work. A lot of people just don’t want to work at being loving. It’s easier to be lazy that to be loving. It makes us unwilling to do the things that really count in life. Many marriages break up because the root cause is laziness. Both partners knew exactly what needed to be done to make their marriage work but neither or one was not willing to make the effort. “I want my marriage to get better but I’m not willing to work at it. I’m not willing to get help for it. Maybe if I just wait it will get better.” That’s called procrastination.
Procrastination causes problems with our children. Lazy parents produce problem kids. How many times have I gone home and knew the kids needed to be disciplined but I was just “too tired”. You ask your kids to do something or clean something up and they resist. Rather than making an issue of it you say, “Forget it! I’ll do it myself.”
Procrastination, the root of it is laziness, and that causes us to treat people in ways that hurt them. It’s easier to give in than to discipline.
THE REMEDY FOR PROCRASTINATION
1. Stop making excuses.
Proverbs 22:13 “The lazy man is full of excuses.” Have you noticed that other people make excuses but we have reasons? I found a list of excuses that people had sent into insurance companies for accidents:
Going home from work I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don’t have.
The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.
As I pulled away from the side of the road, I glanced at my mother-in-law and headed over the embankment.
In my attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole.
I was on my way to the doctor’s with rear end trouble when my universal joints gave way, causing me to have an accident.
I had been driving my car for forty years when I fell asleep at the wheel and had an accident.
The telephone pole was approaching fast. I attempted to swerve off its path when it struck my front end.
The pedestrian had no idea which way to go, so I ran over him.
What’s your excuse? What have you been saying, “One of these days…” you’re going to do? And you keep making excuses. The Bible says “The lazy man is full of excuses.” Ben Franklin: “People who are good at making excuses are rarely good at anything else.” We become pros at it.
What is your excuse for procrastinating, putting off, not changing your life?
The number one excuse in the world is “When things settle down then I’m going to…” They’re never going to settle down. We live in a rat-race society. The very fact is, it’s not going to get any better.
2. Start today.
Not next month, next week, tomorrow — right now. Whatever it is you’re going to do, do it now! Proverbs 21:1 “Never boast about tomorrow. You don’t know what will happen between now and then.” None of us is guaranteed a tomorrow. You don’t have any guarantee it’s going to be there tomorrow. You say, “I’ll do it someday.” Someday is today! One of these days is none of these days. Do it today. Start right now!
I talk to guys who say, “I’m aiming to change.” I just want to say, “When are you going to pull the trigger?” They’ve been aiming for years! You start right now!
Three Words That Will Change Your Life: DO IT NOW!
I want you to write down three things you need to do in three areas of your life.
First, in your family. One thing you need to improve is your family.
Second, personal life. One thing you’ve always wanted to start doing in your personal life.
Third, career. What do I know I need to be doing at work? What is piling up in your life right now?
3. Establish a planned schedule
You’ve got to do this. Proverbs 13:16 “A wise man plans ahead. A fool doesn’t.” If you fail to plan you’re planning to fail. You need to designate some specific time slots each week for your subject, for your task. You block it out. In college, taking all the tests, I still knew God wanted me to study the Bible. I blocked out Sunday afternoons for 2 or 3 hours to really study the Bible. If you want to spend more time with your husband or wife, plan a date every week. Put it on your calendar. Schedule it. If you don’t write it down you’re not going to do it.
4. Face my fears
That’s really the root behind all avoidance. If you’re avoiding something you’re afraid of it. You have to identify those fears and then deal with them. There are two fears that keep you procrastinating. First the fear of failure. The second is the fear of success. The fear of failure; What if I make a mistake and I embarrass myself, so I guess I won’t even start. I’d like to do this but I might fail so I won’t even start. The fear of success: What if I do it and I succeed, then I’ve got to maintain it. How do I keep the success? How do I keep from falling off the pedestal?
We hate to admit that we have fears. We think fear is a sign of weakness. Fear is a sign of humanity. Only fools are not afraid. Mark Twain said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, it’s moving ahead in spite of them.” There is only one way to deal with fears and that is to face it. When you avoid a fear it gets bigger, when you face it, it grows smaller. You have to face the fears. And you move against it.
Ask yourself, “What am I afraid of? … What is the worst that could happen? Would I die if it happened
5. Focus on the gain and not the pain.
The fact of life is that there are very few things in life that are easy. Life is tough. You must push through the frustration and look at the gain beyond the pain. Look at the reward rather than the temporary discomfort. Concentrate on how good you’re going to feel once you’ve finished the task. It’s like doing your homework as soon as you come home from school so you can enjoy the rest of the evening. If you put it off the whole evening is a bummer because you’re thinking about it the whole time. Do the tough things first. Focus on the gain and not the pain.
There will be sacrifice and commitment. But there is tremendous reward when we push through those paper barriers.
What is it that needs changing in your life that you’ve been putting off? One of these days I’m going to …
What is it going to take to get you in gear?
Why not today? One of these days is none of these days. Someday is today.
Holy Bible (James 4:17, James 1:8, Proverbs 18:9, Proverbs 13:4, Proverbs 15:19, Proverbs 20:4, Proverbs 22:13, Proverbs 21:1, Proverbs 13:16, Ephesians 5:16 – King James version)
“Procrastinate.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 17 June 2018.