Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Don't Procrastinate! Read this now!

Are you familiar with Elisha Gray? Probably not. But I'm sure you've heard of Alexander Graham Bell, the man who invented the telephone. Well, Elisha Gray was a Chicago electrician. He filed a patent application for the telephone two hours after Alexander Graham Bell did. What happened? We really do not know, but the one thing that we do know is that small little two hour delay cost Elisha Gray his life’s legacy.

Sadly I am afraid this is the epitaph and legacy of many people. We live in a fast paced world where many things are coming at us all at once. The truth is that so many things are coming at us we have a difficult time determining what is really important and what is not. We get easily distracted from the smallest task because our attention spans are getting shorter by the year. The end result of all of  this is procrastination. You do know what procrastination is, right? Well for some you will never get around to actually looking the word up so let me define it for you. Procrastination is “the act of willfully delaying taking action of something that should be done.”

The cycle of procrastination usually looks something like this:

Phase 1: “I’ll start early this time.” (We are hopeful and determined)
Phase 2: “I’ve got to start soon.” (A little tension)
Phase 3: “I should have started sooner.” (Creeping guilt)
Phase 4: “There is still time to do it.” (False reassurance)
Phase 5: “What’s wrong with me?” (Getting desperate)
Phase 6: “I can’t wait any longer!” (Intense pain)
Phase 7: “Just get it done!” (Get it over with!)
Phase 8: “Next time, I’ll start earlier.” (The cycle repeats)

Some of you find yourself right in the middle of this cycle today. While the Bible does not use the term “procrastinate” it still speaks to the heart and attitude that causes procrastination. Listen to the words of wisdom from Ecclesiastes 9:10 which says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…(NIV).” Paul said something very similar in Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…It is the Lord Christ you are serving (NIV).”  

Procrastination does tremendous damage to us and others. It causes unnecessary pressure and problems, and it wastes opportunities, time, and money. The problem is that procrastination is addicting! The more you succumb to it, the harder it is to change. It becomes a way of life, causing you a lot of misery and lots of misery for the people who are around you on your job, in your home, or even at your church. So let me help you put yourself out of your procrastination misery by offering you 5 quick suggestions:

First, You must immediately top making excuses! Even you don’t buy into the excuses any more, much less the people around you. You can change! Second, you need to realize that you do not have to be perfect. Perfectionism paralyzes productivity. Third, you have to admit that sometimes you are not perfect and you are afraid. Fear causes much of our procrastination. Sadly, most of the things we are afraid of never even come to fruition. Fourth, keep your focus on the significance of completing tasks in your personal life, on your job, and at home. The result could be great gain in your life. Finally, whatever you have been putting off, regardless of how difficult or hard it may be, get busy and do it now!

So let’s be honest right now with ourselves. What are the two or three things you have purposely been putting off that you know you need to do? Something at work? At home? At church? Do it now with no more excuses!