I have a love/hate relationship with procrastination. Of course, I hate it when I’m up against a work deadline, but I also love it because it spurs me to action. I should try therapy to overcome this endless jumping on and off the carousel of convicting myself over every project, every home task, every fun activity.
You may be thinking, ‘Get off your couch and get moving,’ but that’s where the problem lies. I’m not a Netflix addict. I wonder if Netflix execs are worried about their being the catchphrase for encouraging couch potato-ness? I envision a bunch of people sitting around a conference table in a dark room. PowerPoint slides gleam while a presenter drones on rehashing charts and graphs, projecting audience numbers skyrocketing, excitedly praising the fact that Netflix is blamed for the country’s procrastination, deep couch sitting, and weight gain. And then, they collectively cheer at their great success.
Anyway, that’s not me. Oh, I love a great drama series – 30-minute episodes are my jam. But I’m regimented in my television partaking. I schedule it. And there I’ve said it! I’m a scheduled procrastinator. I’m a champion of strategic procrastination.
I’m so organized I never spend 30-minutes looking for the right pen because they’re all exactly where I left them. I don’t devote hours to color coordinating my bookshelves because they’re already color coordinated.
Where I get into trouble is wanting to do it all. I have so many ideas and projects that I’m sure are fantastic I try to fit them all into my day, my week, my head. I believe it’s the curse of creativity mixed with perfectionism plus strategic procrastination which turns into Sloth. Yep, here’s that Seven Deadly Sins list rearing its ugly head.
St. Teresa of Avila said, “Hell is full of the talented. Heaven is full of the energetic.” She means there is a difference between those who ask God, ‘what am I supposed to do now?’ and then they do it versus those who ignore God’s urging in favor of completing their task list.
Sloth is not doing what I’m supposed to be doing right now. But instead doing a thousand different tasks except for that one thing that I’m supposed to be doing right now. While I believe I’m ‘getting it all done’, I’m really choosing tasks that put me in strategic procrastination mode. I tell myself I’ll do the God tasks when I have time to really focus. Then stress hits me in the middle of the night and I start to ‘should’ all over myself. You know the self-talk, ‘I should be working on that God project, but it’s 3:10 a.m. and I can’t complete a sentence let alone a task.’ And the Should-ing goes on – sometimes until the sun peeks above the horizon.
God called me several years ago to write this blog, to use my stories to bring His Word to the world – my small world, but the world, nevertheless. And I’ve put it on the back burner because there is always one more thing to get done today before I can sit down to write and obey God.
What is behind procrastination? Perfectionism. Pride. Overscheduling. Fear.
What is behind my hyper schedule management? Perfectionism. Pride. Overscheduling. Fear.
Hmmm … I see a pattern. I’m guilty of thinking there’s time to get it all done. But there isn’t.
In his book, The Art of Loving God, John H. Hampsch, C.M.F. tells this tale:
There was a strategy meeting in hell, the story goes, and Satan asked his demons to brainstorm about how to accelerate the ruination of souls on earth. One demon suggested tempting people to believe there is no heaven. That idea was rejected because everyone knows that good must have its reward. A second demon suggested tempting people to believe there is no hell. That too was rejected because everyone who experiences guilt expects punishment. A third demon suggested that humans be tempted to believe that there is no hurry. This would allow fleeting graces to pass unused; inspirations would not be acted upon, and souls would thus wither spiritually and be easily seduced. Of course, this strategy was unanimously accepted. Today it is one of the most formidable in the devil’s [weapons].
I confess. That’s me. God tells me to write or call a friend or visit an elderly neighbor. I delay, thinking I can do it tomorrow and tomorrow becomes next week which becomes next month that becomes next season. St. James warns us, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” James 4:17
So how do we get off the treadmill? How do we live in the moment, do what God asks of us, and all the while enjoy this short, beautiful gift of life?
Maybe the first step is to talk to God. Ask Him, ‘What do you want from me, Lord?’ Step two is to listen to what He says. Get quiet. Be alone. Relax and clear your head. God will let you know what he wants you to do right now.
For me, I’m narrowing my gaze and shifting from strategic procrastination. I’m asking the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen my focus. I’m listening for His voice in my soul. Again, I’ll ask Him what He wants me to do. And then I’m putting that at the top of my task list.
This is the first in the 7 Deadly Sins series! Just 6 more to go!