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There are all manner of funny memes around the theme of procrastination. We joke about our skills at delaying things until the last possible moment, as if a looming deadline and last-minute panic were good methods for creativity. In truth, procrastination often derails a creative process as well as robs us of joy and peace. Procrastination causes self-inflicted pain; more than just a clumsy habit, it causes unnecessary pain to us and to others.

Count the costs

Procrastination causes headaches as we panic in the last minutes, often with half-baked results. It also causes pain that ripples out to our families. An ignored office deadline makes us tense and irritable with our families. Unfinished projects all over the house leave everyone stressed out and living in chaos. Laundry piles up and we are left scrambling to find clean clothes at the last minute. A peaceful weekend is preempted by a school project that should have been tended to all semester. Tension is felt in your marriage because of all the disorder you can’t seem to control.

Owning my entitlement

We joke about procrastination in light ways, but I recently heard a reframing of its definition that caused me to pause and reflect. It went something like this: Procrastination is actually a sense of entitlement. We feel we are entitled to claim a second opportunity from God to do later what he has already given us an opportunity to accomplish now. Ouch! This definition helps us to see our behavior from God’s perspective.

Scripture tells us that, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”(Ephesians 2:10). We have been given gifts to use. It is easy to take the moments and days that God has given us for granted. We should view each day as a gift to be used well. Assuming there will be other opportunities while squandering the time in front of me is wasteful. That certainly doesn’t mean that we can’t rest or relax--God wants us to enjoy those gifts of sabbath too. Rest and enjoyment are important to our health. But what mindless habits might squander our productivity? Hours spent trolling social media, or binging another episode, or playing another video game may not be helping us to reach our goals.

We can’t do it alone

In our own strength, we fall short. We fail to accomplish the work before us when we rely on our own strength. God empowers us and gives us the courage to keep going when life feels difficult. We get overwhelmed when we feel alone with a big project, but God never leaves us on our own. God promises to be with us through all of our days (Matthew 28) and walk with us through life’s valleys (Psalm 23). We also know that when God calls us to a task, he also equips us.

Collaboration can help us move forward. The family pitches in together after dinner and tidies up the kitchen. The assistance of a colleague brings the insight and encouragement to move a project along. We invite our kids to do chores around the house even knowing that we could do those tasks better for in collaboration we encourage one another.

Take a step

Transitioning from one thing to another can leave us feeling bogged down, but making the transition sets us on a trajectory to accomplish what needs to get done. We need only overcome the inertia that makes us doubt that progress is possible. It is said that every journey begins with a single step. It can be easy to succumb to paralysis looking at the whole scope of a project without recognizing that beginning is a big part of the battle. Step by step the miles are crossed, dish by dish the kitchen gets clean. We can navigate a big project by just being willing to step in and engage the work sitting before us. We can model for our children a willingness to step into the messiness and engage the challenge before us.

Celebrate the accomplishments

Marking the progress gives a visual motivator to stir us on to completion. Celebrating the small victories along the way is a great way to gain momentum and avoid getting too overwhelmed by the task before you. When the big project feels too daunting, finding your way to the next milestone is worth celebrating. Acknowledging the accomplishments along the way can help you break your project into more manageable tasks and propelling you on to your end goal.

May you be encouraged to step out in faith and embrace the tasks that God has laid out before you. May you find joy in engaging the work God has called you to do.

 

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