First, understand that procrastination is never a time management issue. Procrastinating is a desire issue. Whenever anyone has been putting something off they claim they really want to do, the number was reason or excuse is: “I don’t have time.”
This is simply untrue. And I can prove it.
Just think about a typical day. There are literally dozens if not hundreds of activities that consume the hours and minutes of our days. And every one of those activities is a choice. Either because we want the reward associated with that choice or because we want to avoid the pain associated with it. For example:
I choose to wake up in the morning and go to work. Why? Because I want the paycheck and I want to avoid being fired.
I choose to brush my teeth twice a day. Why? Because I want fresh breath and I want to avoid the dentist’s drill.
I choose to pay my taxes. Why? Because I want pot-hole free roads and I want to avoid prison.
I choose to write these blog posts. Why? Because I want the creative satisfaction I get from writing and I want to avoid going to my grave unfulfilled.
And the list goes on.
Simply put, we always find time to do those things that are important to us. Always. Al-ways.
So why are you procrastinating? Because whatever your thing is, you have not made it a priority in your life, at least not at this time. You are simply choosing to put other things ahead of whatever it is you say you want to do.
And why isn’t it a priority? Any number of reasons—usually a mixture of fear, feelings of inadequacy or competency, and internal beliefs around worthiness. But too often it is simply because your goal or task is not important enough to you to supplant the other activities that occupy your day. In other words, the thing you’re not doing doesn’t wow you enough to override your current routine. You say you want to start your dream business, but you think it is going to be difficult and time consuming and might fail and you might go bankrupt. And besides, your current job isn’t that bad, right? At least it affords you a few hours of downtime at night to order a pizza and watch American Idol.
And hey, if a day job followed by pizza and TV is your thing, that is totally cool too. If you are truly content, it really is. Just be honest with yourself. That’s all I ask.
But if it is not, it is time to get real with yourself and make some changes—even if they’re hard ones.
Now before I get blasted with hate mail and justifications, please understand that I know you have responsibilities and obligations and families and bills. We all do. Me included. I get it. I’ve used these same rationalizations for years. Still do sometimes.
But if there is something that is really important to you, then do something about it. Today!
I don’t care if your objective is to lose weight, write a novel, start a business, eat more greens, spend more time with your child, learn to speak Spanish, backpack across Patagonia, plant a garden, declutter your garage, or take a much-needed nap. Stop making excuses and start making priorities. Baby step if you have to. Just get moving.
The most important choice you make is what you choose to make important. Time management hacks are wonderful assets—but only after you have chosen your priorities.
Chances are pretty good that if there is something you are perpetually putting off doing, it’s probably not something you really, really want to do at all. More likely it is something you think you should be doing, or that would be good for you, or that your parents or peers or culture think is a worthwhile pursuit. And quite possibly they could be right. But the only person who knows for sure is you.
Procrastination is never about a lack of time. It is only ever about desire.