Why are you torturing yourself?

Would you voluntarily strap yourself to a medieval rack and turn the crank until your joints were stretched to the point of snapping? Ang...

Would you voluntarily strap yourself to a medieval rack and turn the crank until your joints were stretched to the point of snapping?

AngusKirk via Flickr

Yet every time we procrastinate, we might as well be adding an inch or two to the the rack we call our schedules, until we are, literally, stretched out so far we become useless.

To procrastinate is to put off or defer until a later time. The word didn't appear until the mid-1500's, which makes me curious what was going on back them that inspired the birth of the word. Today, at least in American culture, it might be the most pervasive method of self-torture around.

Self-torture? Isn't that a little strong? You ask. Not really. Who hasn't procrastinated something until the opportunity was lost, the assignment was late and you lost a grade, or the bill was overdue and you had to pay a late fee?

Whenever we procrastinate, we will pay a greater price physically, mentally, or emotionally than the cost of doing the task at hand.

I'm guilty. You probably are, too. And if you live with fellow procrastinators (especially if they procrastinate the things YOU think are important, like taking out the trash, or putting the dishes in the dishwasher, or doing the laundry) you know how frustrating the "I'll Get Around To It" addiction can be.

 I posed the following question on Facebook last week. The responses varied from "starting" to "getting up in the morning" to "paying bills," "grading papers," and all different forms of home maintenance.  No surprises there.

Then I asked WHY. Notice, I only received half the feedback (mostly from different people.)
Based on the responses, our reasons for procrastinating are very different. Two homemakers who both procrastinate mopping the floor (the most archaic and absurd form of housework known to mankind, IMHO) may do so for entirely different reasons.

Finding the WHY behind your tendency to put off certain tasks is the key to finding a cure. The www.stopprocrastinating.net website lists five underlying causes of chronic procrastination. (You can read the whole article HERE.)  Those five types can be narrowed down pretty easily: laziness, pride, fear, indecisiveness, and selfishness. Selfish procrastination comes into play when you get a "rush" out of putting something off until the last minute, even when it causes someone else harm.
In the interest of accountability, here's our challenge (and mine). We're all paying a price for whatever we procrastinate.
  1. What are you paying the highest price for? 
  2. Can you identity the primary reason you procrastinate that thing?

I've got three: housework (laziness), exercise (laziness) and writing (fear). What is my procrastination costing me? It's costing me the one thing I have a finite quantity of that cannot be recovered without supernatural help: TIME. If I procrastinate exercising in the morning for two or three hours, that's two or three hours I can't get back. That, in turn, causes increased stress (which increases the likelihood of procrastinating something else). Vicious circle, isn't it? I'm ready to get off the rack, aren't you? 

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  1. Niki, I love how you dare to ask the tough questions! I've been on many racks of my own design. Perhaps if I pictured the torture device instead of the momentary pleasure I get from doing the fun things first I'd be more productive...

  2. Cheryl, thank you! I know what you mean. Putting things off is SO tempting, even when we know better!

  3. Wow. A picture, too. Now I'll think of this whenever my lazy self wants to sit and read instead of exercise. Thank you!

  4. I definitely put off housework! Instead of calling it procrastinating, though, I've rewritten my terms of how clean the house should be. Something had to give!

  5. Jeanette,
    TOO funny! That would be a good motivational poster, wouldn't it?

  6. Jill,
    That is wisdom from heaven. Sometimes our expectations are over the top about things that don't bring us closer to our heart's desires. Good point!


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