Do you procrastinate? Do you avoid dealing with that which needs to be dealt with until it is literally thrust upon you? All of us are guilty of this at times, because procrastination is a subliminal mental coping mechanism for dealing with that which overwhelms us, yet because it never works to our advantage, we must resist and overcome the urge to procrastinate!
“…A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next? Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life, with poverty as your permanent houseguest!” (Proverbs 24:30-34 MSG)
We might not be taking a nap, but we may be watching Netflix or playing a video game or hanging out with friends, or even running around doing other things that make us feel productive; but if we have a particular significant issue before us which we need to tackle successfully–even that distracts us from what we should be focusing on at the moment.
We must always remember the distinction between the urgent and the important–between the fun but distracting friend-texts and the homework assignment due in the morning; between the social activities and the licensing exam; even between the college part-time job and the full-time career we hope to step into upon graduation! And while there is nothing wrong with friends, social activities or even a part-time job that helps you get by, the future is here–it is upon you, literally at your doorstep! If you do not deal with it; if you do not get out ahead of it and provide for it to your satisfaction, you will find yourself in a future, of your own making by default, which you did not want!
So how do you deal with that which is overwhelming, whether preparing a huge homework project, studying for a major exam, or getting a real job? In steps! Not by avoiding it, but by facing up to it early enough in the game so you don’t feel overwhelmed at the last minute. By sitting down and breaking it down into manageable chunks, even tiny ones–as small as you need for them to no longer be intimidating; so they are do-able for you.
So sit down–right now, on your tablet, or phone, or computer, or even just with a piece of paper and a pen–and brainstorm each step that needs to be done for the entire project to be finished. Write it all down, each and every part from start to finish! In my case, I’m remodeling an apartment, so the list looked something like 1) paint the living room walls, 2) paint the living room ceiling, 3) paint the living room trim, 4) paint the living room windows and doors, 5) get the flooring changed, 6) install new mini blinds, etc., etc., etc.
Next, figure out what you need to actually do it. Sometimes the whole job’s yours; at other times others are involved. If you’re not the only one working, put down who’s doing what when–and who needs to do their thing first before others can do their part. Either way, whether the job’s all yours or whether others are involved, schedule it on a calendar, so you know what part you’re doing when. Make it so small and so manageable that you can do it as easily as a routine task or chore–like brushing your teeth–make it impossible to not do!
And when you’re scheduling it, put down what you need to do that day’s part, be it a particular textbook, a study guide, nice resume paper, or whatever you happen to need. There’s nothing for derailing your good intentions like not having the stuff there that you need to get it done. In other words–as you’re breaking down and scheduling your project, make sure you really understand what’s involved in each of the steps, and be ready when it’s time!
We avoid things when they loom large over us, because we understand there’s a lot of work ahead of us, but we can’t quite put our finger on what to do first, and we might not even rightly understand the steps involved or their sequence. Once we pull the project apart, however–into manageable steps–it’s no longer the monster it previously was. We’ve brought it down to a simple level–and it’s almost embarrassing to put it off anymore!
So, is there something you’ve been procrastinating about–something you’ve felt overwhelmed by? Stop avoiding it and stop stressing about it! Just sit down and ask God for His wisdom, His blessing and His help–and then pull it apart into its component parts, and get to it! You’ve got this!!
Dear Lord Jesus,
Help me not be overwhelmed by the giants in my life looming over me; help me rise up and break them down into their component parts and get them done. Amen