Unlearning Procrastination


So my whole life I’ve been a risk-assessing procrastinator. By that I mean, I don’t utterly and completely procrastinate. Procrastination is typically thought of as simply “putting off” and that’s not the whole picture of what I do.

No, I *assess* the risk, first…

  • How bad is the job gonna be?
  • Is there any way to avoid it?
  • Shouldn’t we wait to make sure no one gets sick and blows the plan to pieces?
  • How long will it actually take for me to “get ‘er done”?
  • Are all the steps *really* necessary?

And then, with those things in mind, I pretty much wait until the last point possible to get it done. So I don’t wait so long that it *won’t* get done, I just wait until I can’t afford to do anything else, and THEN I get it done. 

Maybe it’s a form of lazy perfectionism that I’ve convinced myself (until recently) is a smart, respectable perfectionism? UNlearning Procrastination // jessconnell.com

(Eeeeeeeek, I just admitted that out loud!!!)

But here lately, I’ve been trying to take a whole new approach– do things in advance, — plan purposefully, and try to get things done with time to spare. For example, the last few trips we’ve taken, (camping included) I’ve tried to get everything done by the end of the night before we have to leave, so that I can go to bed with everything possible DONE, rather than leaving a slew of things to do before leaving the next day. :)

(To those of you who are planners, I’m sure that still sounds pathetically last-minute, but to those of you who are also risk-assessing procrastinators, you’ll appreciate the purposefulness it requires.)

Here are some random things, recently, I’ve been trying to unprocrastinate about:

  • Mystie’s Guided Brain Dump course has been SO helpful to get everything in my head, out on paper, and start making some sense of it. She has a knack for helping women get ORGANIZED! (If you poke around her site, you’ll see a banners/ads inviting you to sign up for her FREE guided brain dump. Do it. You’ll be glad you did.)
  • I’ve been working to get ahead on writing jobs and commitments so that I can use all of January for a “passion” writing project.
  • Deciding, in advance, about the not-so-black-and-white decisions. I recently wrote out some Jonathan-Edwards-style “resolveds” for myself, to help me make decisions in advance. The reason I wanted to do this is because of gray-area habits (like when to guiltlessly enjoy pistachio gelato, and when it’s ok to veg out/not). Doug says they’re fierce– and, well, I guess I need fierce, because otherwise, when the lines are squishy, I go too easy on myself in areas where I need self-discipline. I used to think Edwards wrote them because he was so godly and pious… now I’m starting to think he wrote them because he was like me and needed some clearly-spelled-out black and white answers so he could make firm decisions based on personal conviction when presented with “gray” options.
  • Cleaning house. Instead of assigning everyone to their own spots, I’ve been calling the troops together multiple times a week (during the little guys’ naptime) to tackle one room at a time of cleaning, decluttering, and organizing. KonMari has definitely helped frame up a proper mindset, but the biggest help is having this many children who are actually HELPFUL and hard-working! Working TOGETHER makes the difference. It’s harder, on the front end, but better in the long run. It blows me away the things we can get done, now, with 4-5 of us working together, vs. just a few years ago, when it was just me, or me and one other child, working on projects like that. {Psst! Moms of only little ones, DON’T GIVE UP! They grow up and REALLY DO start to contribute if you persist!}
  • Meal planning. I’ve been looking at these cookbooks (also from Mystie). She talks about taking simple meal ideas, and shaking them up to fit your family’s taste buds.

I need easy, rather than complicated. I need clear instead of muddled. Especially during the holiday rush.

I’m finding, when I try to “do it all,” I end up procrastinating, but when I just try to do parts (like “Do the Next Thing” says), and tackle them, bit by bit, I do so much better, and we get so much more done. And I’m not so apt to procrastinate because the job doesn’t seem so big. It feels more DOable.

How about you?

  • Are you a procrastinator?
  • How do you do your meal planning, especially in the days and weeks *around* holiday times? 

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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9 Responses

  1. Nicole says:

    I have always loved Edwards’ resolveds and read over them about this time every year. I have also found Gretchen Rubin’s book on habits (Better Than Before) to be helpful as of late. Would you be willing to share the resolveds you have written, not as a prescription for what others should resolve, but rather as an example? I would be grateful.

    • Jess Connell says:

      I’m considering it. Maybe I’ll just share a sampling of them. :)

      I haven’t read any Gretchen Rubin, but it seems lot of people are talking about her. Maybe I’ll snag a book if I ever see one in a thrift store. :)

  2. Sandrine says:

    I’m not so much a procrastinator myself, but my husband is one, and it drives me crazy sometimes. So basically, I had to learn to plan and do what I can do, and leave the other things there, even if it takes much longer for it to get done than I would like… they are not on my plate and that is it! With five little ones under 7, I have enough with homeschooling the two oldest, taking care of the kids, meals and grocery shopping plus basic clean up of the house. Changing the car’s tires, worrying about the garden or completing the basement’s renos are not up to me 😉
    I just have to be careful of the fine line between reminding my husband that this needs to be done NOW (here we are not allowed to use the car without winter tires after December 15, for example) and not nagging him about things I would LIKE to have (like a finished family room…).

  3. Sharon says:

    I am SUCH a procrastinator! I have 5 children and we run our own business and homeschool. I have too much to do all the time. I have a hard time deciding on my priorities. Thanks for the websites that have helped you. I will definitely look into them.

  4. Tracy says:

    “So my whole life I’ve been a risk-assessing procrastinator. By that I mean, I don’t utterly and completely procrastinate. ”

    Yes! Ugh!
    You know what else I have noticed about procrastinating on things? Stuff grows around them. Like if I don’t want to scrub that pan from supper…well the next day dishes start growing around it, and I start being lazy on those too. And then it just all multiplies. I happens with laundry, dishes, paperwork…

    Love your action plan and second the request to see your Edwards list!

  5. Christy says:

    Yes! This is me (and my husband, too, I think). I haven’t always been this way, though. My mom is definitely a planner, and when I lived at home, I was, too. I think my husband has rubbed off on me (ha!) and, while his habits used to drive me (and my mom) crazy, now we drive her crazy together with our lack of planning ahead of time. :-) I will admit that it’s really hard to plan things ahead of time when my husband is less of a planner and hard to pin down.

    We’re getting ready for a big family-visiting-trip next week, and I know that I need to start planning the packing ASAP rather than the last minute craziness that has come to be my norm. Thanks for the kick in the pants.

    BTW, I’ve been reading Sarah M. and Mystie W. for a while now (Brandy V. too), and it’s just fun to see the blogs I follow colliding. :-)

  6. Julie says:

    Thanks for the good food for thought! Time management seems to have become extra hard for me in the social media age, so a few months ago I asked my husband to change my Fb password to something I don’t know. Now I need him to log me in. This system still isn’t perfect but I find it does help a lot, so I focus on other tasks. I liked the idea of the resolves, and understand what you mean about needing to be fierce with yourself, even about snacks! I want to try this. Thank you!

    • Jess Connell says:

      I’ve done the same thing (giving my husband the passwords to various online haunts). It reminds me of the idea of “cutting off your hand” if it offends you. We’re sometimes too lenient on ourselves, and a fierce cut-it-out approach can be very helpful when we need to limit or cut something out of our lives.

  1. December 28, 2015

    […] apps, used “Way of Life” app to hold me accountable about how I’m using devices, written out some “Resolveds,” and am on guard about limitless device […]

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