Procrastination, Worry, and Regret

I just finished a task that I put off doing all weekend. Longer than that, if I’m honest.

I estimated that it would take me about an hour to do it. Had I known it would take about half that time, would I have done it sooner?

I find multiple reasons to procrastinate. About work tasks, like the one I just finished, but about other tasks as well. The crazy part, is sometimes I procrastinate about things I REALLY WANT to do.

I procrastinate about doing things I know will make my life better, healthier. I procrastinate about things that will make my life happier.

We got some family pictures taken. Not last fall, but the fall of 2010. I had visions of large prints adorning the walls. Instead, I’m not sure where to find the disc with the photos so I can take them to get printed.

And those Christmas cards I ordered? The envelopes are stamped (not addressed), but I haven’t sent them. It’s really way too late, now, though. Right?

The clean laundry, on my bedroom floor, folded but not yet put away. How many times do I step over it? How long would it really take for me to put it all away?

I am curious about how to avoid the worry and stress that mounts whenever I procrastinate. I pour so much energy into trying to remember what I have to do, worrying that I am completing something later than planned, and creating plans in my head about when and how I can finish each task. It seems that it would be far more efficient to just do things as I think of them and save myself the time of worry later.

If only.

Somehow, I convince myself that procrastinating serves me. I’m waiting for the right time to get something done, the perfect moment.

Yesterday afternoon, my daughters and I discussed plans to visit a new park, take a picnic. It’s the kind of thing I often suggest and less often follow through on. And then, in addition to the energy spent procrastinating, I add energy spent in regret.

I think I’ll save myself all that energy and just follow through this time. Anyone want to join us for a picnic at the park on Friday? Maybe I can work on addressing Christmas cards while my girls play.

Filed As:  worry, tasks

About Becky Robinson

I am the owner of Weaving Influence and the leader of the Weaving Influence team. We help authors and thought leaders grow their online influence. I am also a wife and mom of three daughters, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, a good cup of coffee, and dark chocolate.

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What People Are Saying

  • Oh Becky, I’m right there with you! 🙂 Actually, I’m fighting this battle right now, so over the week-end, I went to Target (my favorite store) and picked up a new binder and daily planner. I spent a few minutes on Sunday afternoon emptying my mind of all the mental lists that I had going (which also means that I kept forgetting about – like returning phone calls) so that I could see everything I needed to get done this week in one place. I’ve already started marking stuff off the To Do list and it’s a great feeling. I’ve tried switching to e-lists online, on my computer, and on my phone, but I’m just a pen and paper girl in a digital age I guess. 😉

    One other thing that I’ve found helpful has been my little timer. For example, today I’ll set it for 5 or 10 minutes and start filing in the office. When it dings, I’ll stop. No guilt, and progress made. Procrastination – be gone! 😉

  • Those are some good reflections Becky. I wonder though, if some of what you are referring to is really procrastination, or simply false guilt for not being able to get everything accomplished. I know you’re an extremely busy woman, and if you’re like most people today, you may really have too much on your to do or wish list. For many of us, it’s as simple as that. If that’s true, don’t let yourself carry the burden of false guilt, but choose the freedom of simplifying your “lists” as much as possible, doing the best you can, and learning to be satisfied at the end of any given day. Easier said than done I know (I’m still learning too) but the freedom and peace seem much more attractive than the burden of worry and false guilt. Two cents from a friend 🙂

  • That proves it, you’re human and not wonder woman. We practice procrastination for so many reasons, a lot of it is actually perfectionism. If I can’t do it right I can’t do it, we make reasons why it cannot be right, must have right time and energy. I often, when reading a really really good book will constantly put it down, forced procrastination…I don’t want it to end. We are a weird species.

  • I love to know I share this habit with other writer moms. Great confessional post! Sometimes I think I majored in procrastination in college. How else could I be so good at it?

  • I procrastinate on big projects. I make certain to do all the routine, mundane stuff first, waiting for a large chunk of time to put into the project. I am have one now that I must do by July 2 and I hate it. I don’t want to do it, but if I don’t, I’ll lose my job. Everything else I do, including even reading your post is another bit of procrastination. However, I know I will get it done. I still have time.

    Also, I too will put off doing things I like to do. I do things I think are expected of me before I’ll allow myself to relax, do a hobby, have fun. I must be productive!

    All of these I believe are manifestations of my perfectionism. Thanks Erin for pointing it out. 🙂

  • There is something to this. I think sometimes we procrastinate because doing things that doing use our creative energy are just too draining. If you are refueled by writing and being with people, then you have to do a lot of that before you have the energy to sit by yourself and put away clothes or address cards.

    This can just as easily go the other way. It is hard to get up the energy to go to social events, maintain friendships and work on art projects if the bills aren’t paid, and the laundry isn’t yet folded. Some of us need to create order in our homes before we have the energy to be with people.

    Understanding this about yourself is the first step towards disciplining yourself in your less “inspired’ pursuits.

    Love ya Becky!

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