The Path from Procrastination to Discipline
Do you put the “pro” in procrastination? If so, you shouldn’t wear it like a badge of honor. Procrastination is an unhealthy habit.
Unfortunately, our culture has made it acceptable to procrastinate, even making jokes about it.
Even if society says procrastination is the norm, it doesn’t mean it is good.
There are plenty of examples of things society deems acceptable that are actually harmful, and one survey found, “94% of people indicated that procrastination has a negative effect on their happiness.”
Moreover, our personal procrastination often affects how others view us.
When we wait until the last minute, people view us as irresponsible and lazy.
Plus, our procrastination affects those around us.
The good news is there is a path from procrastination to discipline – even for those who are chronic procrastinators.
To learn how, we are using Procrastination: First Steps to Change by Walter Henegar.
Procrastination Doesn’t Make You Better Under Pressure
Many folks mistakenly believe procrastination makes them better under pressure.
Perhaps, they waited until the last minute to write that essay for college and earned an A anyway.
As a result, they’ve clung to the notion that they just work better when it’s crunch time.
This is false.
Dr. Tim Pychyl, director of Carleton College’s Procrastination Research Group in Canada, explains, “Stress, however, doesn’t produce the best work — it just forces us to complete tasks.”
Moreover, we remember our successes with procrastination more than we do the stress it caused, giving us a false sense of security.
Procrastination Isn’t a Personality Quirk
Another common misconception is procrastination is a personality quirk.
In fact, a survey found, “Approximately 25% of adults consider procrastination to be a defining personality trait for them.”
This is a problem.
As a result of this misguided belief, people just accept this bad habit and don’t try to improve their behavior.
However, procrastination is a choice. You choose to put off work or important talks.
But, as Henegar explains, “Procrastination is [also] a serious deeply rooted pathology that negatively affects almost every area of life.”
Yes, You Can Stop Procrastinating
Unfortunately, these two misconceptions make it easy for people to simply accept their habit of procrastinating.
They don’t think they change. In a way, they are right.
Deeply rooted behaviors, such as procrastination, require God to work on our hearts.
Since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
– Colossians 3:9b-10
As Christians, we are no longer the same. However, the process of sanctification is ongoing.
If you procrastinate, you can put on the new self with God’s help.
Recognize Who and What Your Procrastination Affects
As you begin praying and seeking God’s help with your procrastination habit, ask him to reveal what and who your procrastination affects.
Henegar shares his story:
“Seeing my failures in these areas not only led to more repentance, but gave me a new awareness of the consequences of my sin. I saw how I was unloading my responsibilities onto my wife and daughters. I began seeing how many opportunities to love and serve others I had missed because of the disorder in my own life. Every time I broke a commitment or fudged a deadline, I saw how poorly I reflected God’s character to a world that already distrusts his people.”
Consider your personal procrastination pattern.
Who suffers because of your behavior?
Identify How You Rationalize the Behavior
Ask God to reveal the excuses you tend to use when you procrastinate.
How do you rationalize your behavior?
Is it that you think you work better under crunch time? We’ve already proven this is false.
Do you think it is just who you are? Wrong.
Do any of these sound familiar?
- Once the baby starts sleeping through the night…
- It’s too hard to eat healthy during the holidays, so I’ll start in the new year.
- I’ll read that book once I get XZY done.
- Everyone around me is doing it.
- I still have plenty of time.
If so, recognize these are simply excuses to justify poor behavior.
Trip Lee explains, “To put it simply, procrastination is pride, because it assumes you know the future. But we don’t know when our health will decline or our lives will end. We don’t even know for sure when life will get busier.”
Get to the Root of the Issue
Henegar writes, “My prickly branches of procrastination were being nourished by unseen roots, growing deep in the chambers of my heart.”
This is true for you, too.
Your heart has its own dysfunctional procrastination triggers.
Henegar found, “It wasn’t hard to begin naming things. Pride was surely operating; every time I pulled an all-nighter to finish a job, I was protecting my reputation before my friends and superiors. Fear of others was there too.”
There are other root causes of procrastination, such as laziness, pleasure-seeking, self-deception, and escapism.
Once you identify the root causes of your procrastination, repent of these sinful attitudes that turn into sinful actions.
Prioritize Your Time
As you continue on the pathway from procrastination to discipline, you will need to prioritize your time.
Often, procrastinators are not even aware of how they are wasting their hours until they reach the moment of stress when something must be done.
Key into how you are spending your time.
Henegar says, “If something is absent, then what is present? Those hours were going somewhere – what exactly was I doing with them?”
Take note of how much time you spend mindlessly scrolling through social media or browsing on the Internet.
Then, set limits.
Install apps that shut down programs after too much time has been spent on them.
Pay attention to how you prioritize your time with others.
- Are your relationships suffering because of your procrastination?
- What steps can you take to prioritize your relationships?
- What procrastination time wasters are getting in the way?
Pray and Seek Accountability
Throughout this journey, do the following:
- Pray continuously.
- Believe God can change you and allow him to do so.
- Ask God to renew your mind so you will understand how to spend your time as He wants you to.
- Seek accountability.
Ask those in your inner circle to hold you accountable and point out when you are falling into harmful habits.
Give someone permission to gently nudge you back in the right direction.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
– Romans 12:2