“I was going to stop procrastinating,” the old line goes, “but I kept putting it off.”
True Confession Time: lately I feel as though I’ve been plagued with a mild bout of procrastination. I’m not sure why, but for the past few weeks I’ve been more aware of it every time I review my To Do’s. That pesky phone call doesn’t get made. That proposal sits half-written. Those appointments are stuck on the “To Be Scheduled” list. I wonder why that is — why do I make lists and then put off the execution phase? Why do I procrastinate?
Since reflection is a great aid to procrastination (self-absorption takes time, after all), I’ve been reflecting on this situation and have come up with at least three reasons why I put things off.
The first procrastination trigger is Fear. You’d think after many years in sales and fundraising that call reluctance would be a thing of the past, but it still rears its head from time to time. Fear is grounded in self-doubt. Will I say the right thing? Will I ask the right questions? Will the prospect be in a good mood? Will I get the donation, the order, the appointment, the commitment? The fear is completely irrational, of course, but too often it’s there, lurking just beneath the veneer of confidence and self-assurance.
Complacency is probably the second reason why I procrastinate. Fundraising always has a sense of urgency — make the ask, make the month, make the quarter, plan the event — so maybe with that much background noise the tendency is to tune it out once in a while and allow myself to settle into a warm fog of complacency. So what if it doesn’t get done today? Well…it might not matter that much, unless those delayed tasks start piling up, which they inevitably tend to do. The effects of procrastination tend to be cumulative, after all!
Then there’s Distraction. Being a relational person, working around people I enjoy, I can sometimes be drawn away from the Important Task into something that’s frankly more fun! As much as I appreciate being a random “people guy,” I do admire those sequential types who successfully maintain a single-minded focus on the task at hand — they seem to be immune to the kinds of distractions that draw my attention away from what I should be doing. (Maybe I should ask my brother in law to stop sending me those YouTube links…)
Are you one of those admirably focused types? Or do Fear, Complacency or Distraction cause you to procrastinate? As for me, one of these days I plan to put a stop to it! Meanwhile, there’s a fresh pot of coffee across the hall…I’ll get back to you.