The New Year brings a renewed sense of hope and new resolutions that we can start fresh each January. If you are like me (and almost every person I know), you begin to think of what your New Year’s resolutions will be this time of year.
Many of us want to do things such as lose weight, spend more time with family, get out of debt, travel more, or finally write our novel. This year I have chosen only one New Year’s resolution. It is the Mac daddy, number one New Year’s resolutions of all new resolutions because it is the root of all things evil in my day…especially the weekends: My resolution is to stop procrastinating about all the things to do around my house.
Procrastination is a way to avoid the unpleasant things we have to face in our daily life. It is easy to say, “I will do it tomorrow” but often, tomorrow never comes as we put it off again, and again. What does happen is the build up of more things to do that can cause anxiety, frustrations, irritations, relationship conflicts and perhaps even regrets. My nemesis of putting off household chores is sometimes a matter of laziness, but other times it is just a desire to avoid boring or difficult tasks. Here are some examples that you might relate to:
• How many times have you walked through the front door and the doorknob sticks? You say to yourself, “I should fix that”. You will walk through that same door several times a day and each time you do, your thoughts are absorbed with fixing that door…someday soon.
• After the holidays, you have a pile of new pictures that end up in the shoebox with the last ten years worth of pictures that you intended to put in an album last year.
• Every time you go the garage, you have to wade through the piles of stuff just to get to the washer and dryer. You still have boxes that are unpacked from the day you moved in…eight years ago.
• The tree root you trip on every time you go in the back yard causes you to stub your toe.
• Your bathroom shower head squirts water in three different directions, one of which goes outside and onto the floor every time you take a shower and now the flooring is buckled.
• The toilet is stopped up with the least amount of toilet paper.
• The cup you broke last February is still waiting to have the handle glued back on
• The upstairs bathroom faucet leaks.
• The hall light is out and requires a ladder to change the bulb.
• You have things in the back of that one cupboard in your kitchen that you do not even remember what is in there.
• You have 17 socks in the laundry room that you keep hoping to find the mates.
• You need to repaint the bathroom because the peach paint looked good in the 1980s but needs a fresh look.
• The upstairs window sticks each time you close it.
• There are spiders colonizing in the eves under your porch, ready to drop on your head when you walk in the house.
The list can be exhaustive. Each time you encounter these objects of procrastination they rob you of thought, time and energy and a sense of frustration comes over you. I only have so much time in the day to do things and think about things. I would rather spend my time thinking about other things…freeing up my brain capacity for more important and enjoyable thoughts.
These are also irritations to family members and relationships. Have you ever said something like this to your husband, “I thought you were going to fix that gate last week?” and an argument ensues over a silly broken gate?
The New Year’s Resolution solution- how to combat procrastination and turn it into the “now habit” instead of the “tomorrow habit”.
The way to attack this is to start at your driveway with a notepad in your hand and make a list. It will probably be a long list by the time you are done, but that is OK. Start walking towards your house and make a note of everything you want fixed, replaced, changed, or done. Small projects such as pulling weeds around the mailbox to big projects like a new driveway…all go on your list.
After you have finished with your front yard, go into your house and do the same thing for each room in the house. Write everything down without a concern for cost or feasibility. If you want a new room addition, put it on the list.
When you have gone through each room, go out to the garage and back yard continuing with your list. By now, it is probably several pages. The main thing is to leave absolutely nothing off.
Now that you have your list, put it in a prominent place, preferably where each family member can see it. Every time you have an hour, pick something from your list to tackle. If you have a day, pick a big item. When you walk through the front door you do not have to think about it anymore because it is “on the list”. You can even say this to yourself…”no worries, it is on my list”.
As each item is complete, instead of “putting it off”, you cross it off. This will give you a great sense of satisfaction as you see things checked off. Get the entire family involved. When it is work time for the kids, tell them to each pick an item from the list to do for chores.
By committing everything to a list, you have publicly acknowledged that you need to take care of it. Now you can no longer silently procrastinate, you are committing to do it because it is on your list for all to see. Even if it takes a long time to complete, your list is now your reminder and your brain is free to think about something entertaining and enjoyable.
You may not procrastinateabout chores around the house like me, but you might be one who has put off making a will, calling your aging mother, inviting neighbors over for dinner, or having the oil changed in your car. The method still applies. Your list will look different, but you will go through each thing in your life that you know you have put off and commit it to “the list“. Surprisingly, this will be the only New Year’s resolution you will ever have to make as it can cover all those past resolutions you put off.
This New Year, never say ” Tomorrow” again.Make it “the now habit” and Carpe diem! It does not mean you have to do everything now, or can afford to do it all now, but you will make your list now and commit to completing each item as it becomes feasible overcoming procrastination forever.