How to Stop Procrastinating Later

procrastination-flowchart-2

A husband I know got into hot water with his wife after letting the family’s insurance coverage lapse several months ago.

“How could he be so irresponsible? How could he let that happen to his family? What if something happened?” my friend said to me.

I just shrugged. Because I do things just like that.

I am a world-class procrastinator. I think I currently rank No. 2 in the world, just behind my five-year-old son. I’ll check the rankings later.

My friend thinks I’m a good person and totally responsible. She thinks I’m a good sounding board for discussing her marital frustrations.

I got a letter in the mail a few weeks ago. There was a huge “URGENT!” stamped on it in super-duper-emergency red.

The exact wording of the letter from my insurance agent escapes me, but it was VERY close to this:

“Dear Matt,

“Because you are an irresponsible degenerate piece of shit who can’t manage bills like an adult, your insurance policy has been cancelled. We sure hope you haven’t been driving around with lapsed auto coverage, and we have our fingers crossed that your house doesn’t catch fire or get swallowed by a sinkhole.

“But if it does, you’ll deserve it. Because you’re an asshole.

“Life tip: You and your son’s health and wellbeing, along with your house and car are the three most-valuable things you possess. So maybe think about growing up one of these days and taking care of your shit.

<Cue Samir from Office Space> You are a very bad person, Matt.

“Sincerely, Your Insurance Agent”

Yeah, tell me something I don’t know, Insurance People. You should see what I can do to a marriage.

One of the best ways for me to overcome procrastination is to create an emergency.

I respond FABULOUSLY with focus, energy and determination when I’m facing an emergency. I had insurance coverage restored within 24 hours of realizing I had a problem.

You may be wondering: “How the hell could something like that happen?”

I have a three- or four-month supply of unopened mail on my home office desk.

I still have unopened birthday cards laying on my dining room table. My birthday was three weeks ago.

THAT’s how.

I am capable of putting things off in ways you haven’t even thought of yet. And maybe I’ll tell you about it someday if I ever get around to it. Start holding your breath… right… now.

AWOLprocrastination

Procrastination is not a good thing. I’m making light of it because I don’t see the point in flailing about all dramatic-like, AND because this offers you a peek into the guy my ex-wife wanted to leave.

I do want you to know who I am.

One wonders why I wouldn’t want to clean up the sins of my past that lead to the single-worst thing that has ever happened to me. Perhaps there’s a psychological explanation for why I am the way I am. And perhaps I’ll look into that one day. You know, when I get around to it.

I am a negligent person.

Some of you may remember the post where I explored the hypothetical ramifications of my grandmother marrying a Liam Neeson movie character. At the end of that post, I disclosed that my grandmother had been in an accident which forced her to have a variety of surgeries. She was in and out of the hospital for several weeks.

My grandmother is the sweetest woman on the planet, and I think about her often, and did pray earnestly for her recovery.

I called her yesterday for the first time since the accident in January. I left her a message because my grandparents weren’t home. When my grandma called me back last night, I ignored the phone call because I felt “too busy” to answer.

Hopefully, I’ll be disciplined enough to return her call today. Start holding your breath!

I only recently discovered PsyBlog. It’s awesome.

Last month, PsyBlog author Dr. Jeremy Dean wrote a nice post titled 10 Foolproof Tips for Overcoming Procrastination.

If you’re interested, please give it a read.

I’ll list the 10 here, but you’ll need to read his post to get the full context for a few of them.

1. Start easy

2. Start anywhere

3. Beware excuses

4. Up the value

5. Procrastination personality

6. Turn up

7. Think concrete

8. Don’t rely on memory

9. Avoid over-thinking

10. Forgive yourself

There’s a lot of good stuff here that very much applies to my life.

Because I do make excuses. To others and myself.

Because when I “Up the value” (an emergency!) I get shit done.

Because I do have a procrastination personality.

Because I have a subpar memory for task management and short-term things.

Because I over-think EVERYTHING.

And because I have a lot of trouble forgiving myself for… gee, let me think… pretty much every bad thing I’ve ever done.

I bet if I stopped procrastinating, I would feel less stressed.

I bet if I stopped procrastinating, I could get in great shape again.

I bet if I stopped procrastinating, I could make a good book.

I bet if I stopped procrastinating, I would feel spiritually balanced.

I bet if I stopped procrastinating, every facet of my life would improve.

This is great! I have something to focus on! An identifiable shortcoming I can do something about!

It’s going to be so gratifying to work on this stuff and grow and evolve into the person I want to be!

But when to start!?!?

Eh.

Maybe later.

Tagged , , , , ,

60 thoughts on “How to Stop Procrastinating Later

  1. cttbbelliott says:

    Much will come together for you with age. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, especially as young adults. I am now in my early sixties and what I know about life now is unfathomable in comparison to thirty years ago. Stay positive and try to learn as it goes along. BBE

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Thank you. There was a lot of tongue-in-cheek here.

      I have a serious problem. And it will require work and discipline and some divine intervention to overcome it.

      I just didn’t want to be dour about it.

      I’m always trying to learn. I very much appreciate the encouragement. :)

      Like

      • cttbbelliott says:

        If you pray daily asking God for guidance and wisdom to make the right choices and keep positive about your efforts, repenting about your misgivings, He will be so happy to work with you in your life. That’s how it happened for me. I wasn’t feeling a sense of God anywhere in my life so I asked Him to help me know Him. He did in so much more a way than I ever thought possible. He’s on your side and it’s important to remember that. You will flail, and maybe often, but keep trying. Always here with an ear if you need. Brenda

        Like

  2. Great title. And, in a moment of crashingly spectacular irony, I am reading this when I really should be working on a huge project that I absolutely need to get done before the end of the afternoon. Sigh. I think you’re in good company

    Like

    • Matt says:

      I am REALLY good at procrastinating, and I sometimes feel like no one could be quite as bad as I am… but I have a feeling there are probably a lot of us out there.

      Good luck with the project!

      Like

  3. Sarah says:

    But what if those birthday cards have money in them?!?

    I’m a terrible procrastinator, too. I think my finest (read: worst) moment was researching the science behind why our brains procrastinate/why we are the way we are, while I was supposed to be writing an article.

    I definitely need to read that article you posted. [redacted later joke]

    Like

  4. My brother’s favorite shirt was “Procrastinators Unite… tomorrow”. It was one of the shirts that we haven’t been able to get rid of yet, and he’s almost been gone a year now.

    So, this post brings me happy memories – even though they have nothing to do with what you wrote!

    Like

  5. Sofia Leo says:

    I’ll stop procrastinating when you do :-)

    Srsly – I totally understand the “emergency” motivation and I hate that about myself. Slow and steady would be great, if I could only get started…

    Like

  6. EllyWendy says:

    lmao :) Maaan, for someone who isn’t sure whether or not he is a writer, you sure can nail things down. Maybe you’re not a golfer or ditch-digger after all; maybe you really are a writer. Y’think? I thought about replying to your earlier post but not only didn’t I get around to it, I also had a hunch you’d pull another one of these out of your muse in short order. Beautiful!
    Matt, you have so many irons in the fire at this time in your life that some things won’t get done immediately. Most of the important ones will, eventually. That includes whatever form your writing takes later on. When you are ready for it.
    I have written things forever and wanted to be “a real writer” by now, i.e. earning my living at it. But life threw a lot of curves that made it impossible. Oh, I had a few pieces published, but nothing that made me any money. But I had lots of other jobs and experiences instead, most of which were wonderful; none of which were boring. Now that my family is grown, I am taking yet another course which I am nibbling away at, though ‘homework’ kind of sucks and is easy to put off. As I see it, more importantly, it has gotten me writing something different. Yes. I’ve finally started on a genre I have been meaning to get into for a long time. And a story is pouring out. Woohoo! Who knows? Maybe I’ll be a “real” writer myself yet. If not, it’s a fine, nourishing journey, and another notch in my private writing belt. I suspect that you too are in this for the long haul, whether you become hugely famous or not.
    But think of it. Here’s the difference. In a relatively short time you have developed a loyal following on this blog, so not only are you already earning your living as a writer, you also have people waiting to see what you write in your “spare” time. Good job!

    Like

  7. tracey says:

    I too am a procrastinator / piece of shit. I hate answering the phone and I hate calling people back even more. I too have a large stack of unopened mail on my desk and I have not finished my taxes. Not to mention letting my insurance lapse as well just a couple months ago.

    My point being, you are not alone.

    Though, it seems I don’t procrastinate reading your blog when I get a notification;)

    Like

  8. nights7 says:

    This reminds me of a post I was going to write but never got around to. It was going to be called “Not Quite the Adult I Thought I Was” and be about my own ridiculous tendency to procrastinate. That was back in September. Maybe I’ll still write that some day.

    I am aware of how much procrastinating holds me back and how awesomely productive I could be if I could stop procrastinating. Intellectually I know this like I know saying stupid things makes me sound like an asshole sometimes. But I still do it; it’s hard to fight your own nature.

    Also, AWOLprocrastination…awesome!

    Like

  9. Nice. Check out Pressfield’s The War of Art. He tackles procrastination as well.

    I tackle procrastination hard, and I follow through… and then I have tea with It.

    Like

  10. =D

    I love your blog. <3

    I am just like you. I work infinitely better in the crunch time. Must be another reason why we would never work out. (Wink) Lists don't hurt. I may not always check everything off but I certainly check some things off. I also find that I do better to reward checked off lists with scheduled, guilt-free, veg-out time.

    As for "forgiving oneself;" At a deep level, I don't actually agree with the premise however, giving myself a break for having to accomplish life as a "single" instead of "a married?"…That's legit.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      :)
      Lists are good. I do tend to complete them. It just takes an excessively long time sometimes.

      I’m glad you like reading this stuff. Thank you.

      Like

  11. Muddletation says:

    I’ve been meaning to ask you how your mee-maw was doing…don’t read this comment, pick up the phone and call her :))

    Wanted to pop in here to tell you about an awesome app called Lift- it fits so appropriately with this post and has helped me conquer – ok conquer is too strong a word– but nudge my tendency to procrastinate… I got a lot of stuff done this past year with with Lift. It helps you define and work on building good habits, I highly recommend it. (https://lift.do)

    And I wanted to say that even though I don’t comment often, I always enjoy your posts… You ARE a writer dammit and a very good one at that. Reading your blog reminds me of the Fat Albert theme song, where they say if you’re not careful you might learn something before you’re done…your posts are wonderful.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      I did call her! We talked for a long time. It was wonderful. She is a very positive person with a grateful heart, and as such, is almost always happy. I thanked her for that very thing. She’s a great example. Thank you for the app recommendation. I’m going to download it right now. Not later. Now.

      Thank you very much for your kindness and thoughtfulness.

      Like

      • Muddletation says:

        That’s great! She sounds like my Gram…one regret I have is that I didn’t call her as often as I could have. Enjoy your conversations with her, aren’t they so wise and funny? As for Lift, I hope you find it as helpful as I do. Really helps you build momentum, such a nice community of people. If you need an accountability partner or someone to cheer you (give props) you can friend me, my name is the same there. One tip is to start with a few habits that are easy and then work up from there. Good luck! :) Kim

        Like

  12. gluestickmum says:

    The trouble with paying for insurance is that you have to make a choice as to which crook you’re going to give your money to. I put it off too.
    But I am a procrastinator too. You’re right – it causes more stress. I’m sure I don’t always make the best choices because of it. But I can’t help it. I think I need to read your recommended article. Maybe later…

    Like

  13. Brian Snyder says:

    Matt, I really like this post because

    Like

  14. Vince says:

    Loved with a professional procrastinator for 18 years, bugged me. In the opposite. If something needs to be done I do it right away and stay on it until it’s complete. If I can’t complete it I stay awake thinking about it, I hate it. There needs to be balance.

    I’d take a dose if your procrastination and provide you a dose of my obsession about getting things done if I could.

    Like

    • knace says:

      Oh, please give me a dose of your obsessive/compulsive, Vince, because if Matt’s ranked number 2 in the world, I’m numero uno. The only thing that saves my life from being a complete disaster is everyday I make a list of 3 things I MUST DO. Just three things, and it’s so hard.
      And thanks for the PsyBlog tip, Matt. I’m definitely going to check it out. Maybe it will help me.

      Like

    • Matt says:

      Ooh. An obsession about getting things done. Sounds kind if awesome. But yes. Moderation. The key to balance in almost all areas of life.

      Hope you’re well, Vince.

      Like

  15. Did I ever send you the links to two articles on procrastination? We discussed it once, and I meant to. If I didn’t, that would be ironic. :) http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/10/why-procrastinators-procrastinate.html and http://www.waitbutwhy.com/2013/11/how-to-beat-procrastination.html Hope you’re well!

    Like

  16. sariscorner says:

    I love the flowchart! And I am also really good in procastinating which doesn’t help me with getting my PhD done…probably I should check out the link you posted…later… ;)

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Ha! Made me laugh.

      You get tons of points just for being ambitious enough to pursue advanced higher-ed degrees.

      Your version of procrastination will always be > my version.

      Because you’ll be Dr. Procrastinator. And that will pretty awesome.

      Like

  17. thatnavaword says:

    lol good thing procrastination isn’t my name. Well it is every now and then, but not often. Give your gran a call please. she’d love you all the more for it

    Like

  18. Silverleaf says:

    I think we all suffer from some shortcoming or other that gets in our way of being just that bit happier, more balanced, less stressed. Not to say we shouldn’t work on our faults, but definitely don’t berate or beat yourself up. This sounds so familiar, not because I procrastinate (much) but because I’m the same about panicking and stressing myself out over nothing. We should all probably just realize this is the way we are, put some strategies in place to protect ourselves from the worst of it and otherwise accept it as life. Easier said than done!

    Like

  19. My cure for it? Anything I can do on automatic pilot I do. Anything I can’t do on automatic pilot, I put reminders in my calendar with rude comments to myself that others who don’t like me would say to me for my vast failings, this works because I want to prove them wrong. Anything that isn’t important, I ignore; it isn’t important.

    Then I pour myself a chilled Tequila and light a nice Cohiba. I am good for the day.

    Like

  20. I wonder why the big insurance company don’t offer marriage insurance? If your spouse divorces you, you get a big payoff! If you have to go through all that heartache, at least you can get some money out of the deal. I guess we don’t yet have this due to the potential for collusion and splitting the profits.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      That’s got a little pre-nup juice in it. Which I’ve always believed is the totally opposite way one should go into marriage.

      But you ask a fantastic question.

      I don’t know how one starts insurance companies, but that might be worth looking into.

      At minimum, it would make a fun premise for a fiction story.

      Really good to hear from you, sir. Hope all is well.

      Like

  21. I once read that procrastination is a disguise for the fear of failure. We procrastinate because we can then “blame” a less than favorable outcome on the fact that we just didn’t have enough time. Not sure how to apply that to the lack of making insurance payments (for either of us btw), but I will try to find a way to make it fit. Another day.

    Like

  22. […] I put things off and forget about them and then something bad happens, like my natural gas gets shut off or my auto insurance […]

    Like

Join the Conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: