When procrastination is good and when it is awful
Note: I was inspired to write this by a very thorough post I read at Unclutterer .com, so if anything seems familiar, it may be because I picked something from there. I had no intention of plagiarise anything.
I have to admit it: procrastination is the bane of my existence. I do it on a daily basis and have been doing it for just about all of my 37 years (not from birth but certainly as soon as school startedâ€¦well, you get the idea!). I am a serial procrastinator: from deadlines to dishes, from bills to making the bed, I always leave things to do later.
That tends to leave me in some very tight spots. I am the queen of excuses: I will do it next week! Oh, can you manage without that? I am doing it, as we speak, on my computer! It makes for awful business practice. I donâ€™t think I ever lost a case because of it, because I am very lucky and I do look at stuff I have deadlines on. But I rely on the unreality of the big system â€“ the system I work in is very slow, takes forever, so my not doing things so fast does not show.Â
On the decluttering front, awful procrastination is when you set an urgent task, that you need to do NOW. A task of decluttering and organising bills, documents, birth certificates, passports, etc and a delay, a wrong declutter or a loss can be very bad and onerous on the money front. HoweverÂ you keep leaving that task until next weekend when you are freeâ€¦ BUT THE NEXT FREE WEEKEND NEVER COMES!!!Â
My procrastination on getting my office in some order made me lose bills and lose a payment that left me with a debt I could already be done with. I kept putting this task off due to perfectionism, I felt it was all or nothing and the task was avoided. Unfortunately procrastination involving decluttering and dealing with urgent paperwork is awful, because it can mean losing money and paying interest when you shouldnâ€™t have to.Â
So when you are dealing with decluttering that involves deadlines, things to do in your job, bills, recipes, paying taxes, donâ€™t procrastinate. At the very least do the task roughly, set priorities, but get the urgent done. Procrastination and time to think, can get you in trouble here.
There is also the good procrastination. I use it especially when dealing with sentimental items. Sometimes it is very easy to part with sentimental items. You stop, look at the thing and donâ€™t know why you kept it up to that point. At other times it is particularly hard to declutter a sentimental item. I have been having these problems with my cassette tapes. Even though I told Colleen and everyone I would be decluttering them soon, I am procrastinating their decluttering. Yes, they are here, I could already be done with them, but it still does not feel right to do it. I am mulling over what kind of memory box I am putting them in, how many I am going to keep, how I am going to fashion such a memory box,Â so it is a procrastination. However it is not bad for me. True, the cassette tapes are in a temporary place and I keep looking at them day in and day out, but it is not hurting me. It will not be a problem if I do it today or in a monthsâ€™ time. I decided I would do it and eventually I will. I
So, my point is, if it is not something urgent and that impacts on your daily living like I mentioned before, you can procrastinate on it for a while. It is good actually because you can decide more calmly and not regret whatever you do in the long run. And in the meantime declutter something else that is easy to deal with. Still making progress and you mull it over.
Today’s Mini Mission
Declutter something you have kept just because you have the room for it but donâ€™t love it or use it.
â€œIf we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think weâ€™d beÂ happy withÂ more?â€ â€” Unknown
Deb J says
Andreia, this is a very good post. I can’t say I have this problem too much but that is because in my tean years I leaarned that procrastinating was not a good thing. That’s when I became an organized and “get it done first” person. I’m so glad I learned it early on because it has prevented some disasters.
Donna B says
This is a great post. Sorry to hear about your paper-related woes – that’s the one area I am okay with as I do a lot electronically and can keep track of electronic information better than I can information on paper.
I think a lot of procrastination is the result of perfectionist tendencies. I don’t like to wing it and prefer to be ultraprepared before I undertake something, but that often is not necessary.
I had a chaotic September, as my mother had been quite sick for a while and died, but the couple of weeks before she died, I spent a lot of time away from home and fell behind on everything while my husband juggled his job and getting kids where they needed to be. He also had a couple of trips out of town for work to toss into the mix. My in-laws came mid-month, and I had been planning to paint the bathroom they’d be using, Of course I put it off. The weekend before they came, I did a not-great-but-better-than-it-was-before paint job on it and also was on a work deadline the week they came. I was trying to get the house in decent shape, and realized after their plane landed on time that I wouldn’t finish most of what I planned to get done. At that point, I sat there eating my lunch and crying, bemoaning how I was so tired of being disorganized! Luckily my in-laws didn’t care as they came to see us and the kids, not the house (and they’d rather do other things than spend hours on their own house, so we’re kindred spirits).
If only I had painted the bathroom sooner than the weekend before they arrived, I’d have had that time to clean up better. I also offer up excuses (to myself) why I didn’t do it – some valid and some not!
It is so true that if it is not hurting you there is no harm in mulling it over. I have found in the past that procrastination clutter, especially of the sentimental sort, can be a good thing. There were items I would continually steal from my donation stash, feeling that little tug of regret that I might not have them any more. Before long I am “over it” and can toss those things with no regrets and wonder why I had such a hard time with them in the first place. I think it’s better to feel ready with sentimental, irreplaceable things. I am almost knick-knack free, except for one little statuary bird I am holding onto until I am ready.
Andreia – a great post! I am one of those naturally organised people but to be honest it can get kind of boring, especially as I have two ‘arty’ types in my household. Even I find myself doing a bit of procrastination now and then. I recently read an idea, whereby you set a specific time during the week for just 15 mins to do a procrastination job’ – me, I’d schedule it prior to before something fun. So there was a reward factor to it.
Thanks for your post Andreia, I can well relate to everything that you say! I completely agree that procrastination is often a consequence of perfectionism; on another decluttering forum someone said “don’t let perfectionism be the enemy of good enough” and I try to keep that in mind. These days I’m very happy with “good enough”! I also think that for many tasks you just have to be “in the mood” and I have occasionally found myself dropping whatever I might be doing in order to go and deal with something that has been on my list for ages, and suddenly I want to do it. Some time ago Deb J posted about cleaning out her spice cabinet and I mulled that over for a while; a couple of mornings later I happened to wake up early and was immediately inspired to deal with the spice bottles in my pantry. My husband was surprised to find me working on this at 6 in the morning, and it ended up being a quick but very satisfying thing to get done. I was also pleased just this last weekend to finally do a job that I had procrastinated over for almost 2 years – revarnishing the front door. We are supposed to do this once a year and it is a bit of a pain because we have to leave the door open while it dries, the weather has to cooperate, it’s all a bit messy etc etc – but I knew if I didn’t get it done it would probably be the spring before I tried again, and in the end it only took me about an hour and it looked so nice that I couldn’t think why I had left it so long.
Andreia’s post reminded me of an acquaintance (a friend of a friend) who procrastinated on the maintenance of her home, from cleaning and tidying to never addressing home repairs and upkeep of the larger sort. When she decided to sell her home, she needed to address everything she had put off doing or sell as a “fixer upper”, as is. Not only did it cost her more money in the long run, but once it was done, she decided not to sell because her home finally looked the way she wanted it to. I have heard versions of this same story over and over again.
I think I am like Christine–sometimes I have procrastinated and suddenly got in the mood. Then whatever it was seems to get done very quickly. Occasionally something you have procrastinated on will go away sort of on its own, usually writing a business or tax letter, which can be complicated or you feel you need more information. Sometimes it will be resolved before you get around to writing the letter. Unfortunately this doesn’t happen often enough. On daily routine things I try not to procrastinate. So a week when I am in the mood may show a lot of declutter progress, This week has been a mix, since it is hay fever season, and my allergy medicine keeps me breathing, but I don’t feel 100 percent energetic.