We tend to brand ourselves and others as ‘lazy’ when tasks are left unfinished even though we could do something. But an article by Dr John C. Maxwell helped me to understand that sometimes it’s more of procrastination. Dr Maxwell shared what he considered six sources of procrastination:
1. We hesitate to do chores we don’t enjoy.
For me, yard work has always been draining. I don’t find pleasure in it, and there’s a million other things I’d rather spend my time doing. When I was first married, I would procrastinate mowing the lawn until it grew into a small jungle. I knew mowing would make my home look nice and would please my wife, but I abhorred giving it my time and attention.
2. We hesitate to do activities we aren’t good at doing.
I enjoy the arts, and I am fascinated by highly creative persons. However, I’m not particularly gifted in painting, drawing, or designing. That’s why I avoid decorating. I enjoy a finely manicured Christmas tree, or an exquisitely decorated room, but I simply have no talent at making things look good. As a consequence, I will put off decorating as long as possible.
3. We hesitate to do what isn’t on our agendas.
Human nature tends to be set in its ways. When changing circumstances make our plans obsolete, we resist making adjustments. We stubbornly hold to our old course of action and avoid altering our behavior.
4. We hesitate to solve situations that are likely to be messy
A prime example is confrontation. It’s difficult to tell someone what they don’t want to hear and probably won’t respond well to being told. Dreading the possible outcomes, we dawdle and delay rather than initiating confrontation.
5. We hesitate to tackle a task that is high-energy and low-return.
As leaders, we are hard wired into getting the most bang for our buck. The same holds true with our time. We want to invest it profitably. As such, I have always been hesitant to put energy into relationships with high-maintenance donors or investors who aren’t substantial contributors to the organization.
6. We hesitate to step into things we don’t understand.
Hence the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” My generation has had to come to grips with fast-moving technologies, and it hasn’t been easy. I don’t understand many features of GPS systems, iPods, or PDA’s, and, as a result, I procrastinate adopting them into my life – even though I know they could be helpful to me.
If you want to know his proposed antidote, check out the original article.
Anyway, I’m struggling with procrastination, especially at work now, mainly because of reasons 1, 2 and 6. Still preaching to myself on the reasons and visions though… *Sigh*