Are you a procrastinator? If you’re planning to read this blog post later or “when you have time,” get over yourself. (Check your Facebook page first, right?!) They actually have a Facebook group for procrastinators. Go figure.
Before having kids, I was a professional procrastinator. I put off things that I saw as “really not necessary right now” until the last minute. The laundry, the lawn, cleaning the bathroom toilet. Lucky for me, I launched my career in a deadline-focused field. Journalism. I’d have no problem conducting interviews and meeting article deadlines, but everything else fell on the backburner and could have ended up on an episode of Clean Sweep had I not married my best friend who is ridiculously organized and on time for EVERYTHING. (He helped ship me into better shape over the years – thanks honey!) As a freelance writer, when I had a long deadline, I’d find myself sitting in front of a blank computer screen, with bumps forming from the pressure of writer’s block. I’d end up washing dishes, scrubbing the toilet with a toothbrush and doing five loads of laundry. (And writing the article the night before it was due, of course.) Give me a three-hour deadline, and I’d have it done in two hours flat.
When I became a mom, I didn’t have time to think about putting anything off – I was in survival mode. Do or be darned. Feed the baby. Burp the baby. Bathe the baby. Hold the baby. Shower. Drop off baby. Work all day. Rinse and repeat. With an active baby – I was lucky to fit in a layer of deodorant into my day.
Through the years, the things I used to procrastinate about have faded away, making me feel a little better about myself. (I’m no Rachel Ray, but I do try.) Unfortunately, some things have still fallen to the wayside. Let’s just say I now have 1,789 photos of my daughter stored conveniently and digitally in my computer, and until a month ago, one quarter of a photo album to show for it. (My first born has two albums FILLED.) One year, I attended two scrapbooking sessions hosted by a friend, bought crafty supplies and have been putting it off ever since. I believe this was five, maybe six pathetic years ago. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Am I a bad mother because I don’t like to scrapbook? Let’s see – tending to the kids, laundry, dishes, deadlines, meetings, conference calls, volunteering OR starting a scrapbook. I like to be creative and productive. I’ve conducted conference calls while simultaneously folding four loads of laundry and feeding a play-date party of five. But a talented scrap-bookkeeper I am not. Recently, my husband and I hosted our own version of Clean Sweep, and cleaned out the attic, the garage and our kids’ rooms. We found a TON of our daughter’s old PRINTED baby pictures and put them in a cute album that I swear I purchased the same year she was born. It’s not winning any awards, but it’ll do. As long as she’s not expecting to see a craft store aisle pop off the pages, it’ll do just fine.
Some tips that can help you kick the habit:
- Keep a to-do list. Give yourself enough time to tackle tasks. You may surprise yourself!
- Don't set too lofty of goals in your to-do list. Be realistic and you will get more done.
- Set your goals in phases such as: To Do Today, To Do This Week, To Do This Year.
- Stay off-line when you need to get things done. E-mail, Facebook, and Twitter are all helpful tools, but they can be distracting!
- Give yourself a break every now and then. Indulge in a cookie or latte with a friend, but stop avoiding the tasks at hand.
- Don't over-schedule yourself or your family. The results are no fun for anyone. And it can only lead to more procrastinating.
- Be proud of yourself when you tackle tasks. But don't stop. Like working out or eating better, you need to stay consistent in order to see results!
Jackie Hennessey is a pr consultant and author of How to Spread Sanity on a Cracker. She blogs at www.ventingsessions.com. The native Texan lives in Barrington with her husband and two children.