Why Procrastination is the Enemy of Self-Care

“Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today?” I can think of at least a hundred reasons right now– all of which sound remarkably legitimate.

I’m a deep thinker. I’d rather read poetry and watch the birds flitter in a backyard puddle than do anything that requires focused effort. Therefore, I have become a skilled procrastinator. You might even say I’m the queen of procrastination. Yes, many people have claimed that title. But truthfully, it’s mine. If you should require more convincing, come back tomorrow.  😉

Tomorrow is a Myth…

Ahhh, tomorrow — the day that never comes. The mythical span of time where motivation mingles with commitments. I imagine you’ll find treadmills churning, books with uncracked spines, past-due projects and services unrendered. Tomorrow is what I tell myself so I’ll feel good about putting it off today. But “tomorrow” is a placeholder, a procrastination tool I have used like a shovel to bury those critical tasks I’d rather not do.

Procrastination is Crafty, Not Necessarily Lazy…

In my defense, I will say that I am not a lazy person. And I don’t believe that everyone who struggles with procrastination is lazy either. In fact, I often use work as an excuse to procrastinate. Because busyness can be bullshit, too (more on that here).

Here’s a peek at what procrastination looks like for me… I open my inbox to find 26 emails awaiting a response. My calendar reminds me that I’ve got 11 pages of Web content due, too. Groan. Suddenly, I have the insatiable urge to spring clean my closets, run 3 miles, mop my floors — anything to keep me from the monotony of those other chores. So I keep myself busy doing important things that aren’t pressing. Meanwhile, time-sensitive tasks are rotting in my office.

The truth is, procrastination is the sneakiest form of self-sabotage. It’s a terrible way to abuse myself, mismanage my time and push myself into unpleasant predicaments that leave me scrambling to do that which I should have done yesterday. In the interest of self-care, I’ve begun developing better habits.  

Here’s How I’ve Learned to Overcome Procrastination:

I  visualize every consequence that comes with procrastination. I imagine the emotional mess I will create by my actions, and the frenetic pace at which I’ll have to work if I delay my project. Then I imagine the feeling I’ll have if I just dive in now and finish the work– the sense of accomplishment, the freedom.

Secondly, I ask myself these questions before I begin doing anything at all:

  • Is this the best use of my time?
  • Is there something more pertinent I’m potentially avoiding?

And before I allow my feet to land on a slippery slope, I vow to practice self-care instead…

Because sometimes self-care is doing what hurts now to avoid a greater pain later.

I won’t say these tactics are effective every time — because “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Still, I have become more conscious of the ways I procrastinate, and more valiant in my efforts to stop it and other self-sabotaging habits.

Are you a procrastinator?


34 Comments
  • Ellen
    August 7, 2016

    “Doing what hurts now to avoid a greater pain later…” — well said. 🙂
    I do a beautiful job of coming up with excuses, heck, I’m even good and giving other people excuses so they can procrastinate too!

    • Rica Lewis
      August 7, 2016

      Ha ha, Ellen! Sounds like we have a lot in common 😆😆

  • Rosemond
    August 7, 2016

    I’m a master procrastinator and yes it does give me emotional pain! I never thought about it from a self care perspective. “Doing what hurts now to avoid a great pain later.” I’m putting that on a post it and sticking it right to my laptop where I can see it! Great wisdom!

    • Rica Lewis
      August 8, 2016

      Thanks, Rosemond! Glad you found some wisdom here. Thanks for reading. 😀

  • Megan L
    August 7, 2016

    This is the flaw I really want to overcome, but I just keep putting it off – haha 😉 Great advice, definitely saving this post – thanks!

    • Rica Lewis
      August 8, 2016

      My pleasure Megan! Thanks for reading and good luck to you.

  • Katie
    August 8, 2016

    THIS! Yes! I’ve learned to do this, especially with things that bring me anxiety and guess what? GETTING IT OVER WITH HAS HELPED MY ANXIETY! 😉 Genius, right? haha

    • Rica Lewis
      August 8, 2016

      Ha ha! Pure genius, Katie! Thanks for reading and sharing your comment. 😀

  • Stacia
    August 8, 2016

    Great post! I too am a non-lazy procrastinator (deadline? Ooo, I should go pick all the kale right now!). Yes, slowing down and asking “is this a good use of my time?” has been helpful. I never thought of procrastination as self-sabotage, though–just a bad habit. Thanks for sharing.

    • Rica Lewis
      August 8, 2016

      Thanks, Stacia! Glad you stopped in between kale picking. Ha ha

  • Corinne Rodrigues
    August 8, 2016

    Just what I need, Rica. I struggle with procrastination and to know that this works for you helps a lot. Thank you for sharing.

  • Jessica Bradshaw
    August 8, 2016

    I am such a planner, the rare times I do procrastinate I get insanely stressed out. Love it!

    • Rica Lewis
      August 8, 2016

      Good for you for being such a great planner, Jessica! I need some of that!

  • Jeff Proctor
    August 8, 2016

    I can totally relate to this! I think awareness is half the battle though. Here’s to cutting back on procrastination! Cheers 🙂

  • Laurie
    August 8, 2016

    Rica, You really captured something here. How many of us put off what we need because of the constant to-do list. I know I do. I love that tomorrow is the day that never comes. So very true and well worth remembering.

    • Rica Lewis
      August 8, 2016

      Thank you, Laurie! I’m glad you liked the post. Nice to see you 😄

  • Roxanne Jones
    August 8, 2016

    I vacillate between being really focused and productive, and procrastinating. I’ve learned that when I’m really busy, with multiple deadlines, I’m the most disciplined. But when I don’t have pressing deadlines, that’s when I tend to dawdle and get distracted, and put things off until I have to scramble to get them done (creating my own pressure). I’ve also learned not to beat myself up about it, and that it all works out in the end.

    • Rica Lewis
      August 8, 2016

      I’m the same way, Roxanne. I tend to work best when I’m under the gun. Thanks for sharing your experience. 😀

  • Jennifer
    August 8, 2016

    But wait, I have to really, really, really respond to that email….

  • Crystal // Dreams, etc.
    August 8, 2016

    Yes! I loved that you made a distinction between laziness and procrastination. I don’t think procrastination is always being lazy, either. While I have moments of being lazy (I think everyone should… I guess taking a break would be a better way to describe it… we need periods of rest), I’m not a lazy person. I tend to work hard and keep busy with work/various projects, but I do procrastinate. It’s something I need to work on more, though, because I feel less stressed and hurried when I don’t procrastinate. 🙂

    • Rica Lewis
      August 8, 2016

      I couldn’t agree more, Crystal. Procrastination does create stress doesn’t it? Thanks so much for reading and sharing your experience!

  • Peggy
    August 9, 2016

    I had a list of work things that needed to be done yesterday. Self-directed tasks, mind you, but tasks none-the-less. I said f*ck it and took the afternoon off to enjoy a fantastically gorgeous day and look for houses on two lakes that I life near. My husband and I took the top off the Jeep and played hooky. (Well, he’s “retired” for the summer….LOL)

    • Rica Lewis
      August 9, 2016

      ha ha! That sounds like a great day, Peggy. I know you don’t do that often because you’re an overachiever! 🙂 Perhaps you needed it.

  • Shannon
    August 12, 2016

    I wish I procrastinated by cleaning! I tend to procrastinate about cleaning by reading and writing instead. They’re certainly much more enjoyable for me. It’s important to remember that not doing it now will definitely lead to more pain later though.

    • Rica Lewis
      August 14, 2016

      Absolutely, Shannon! And I have always enjoyed cleaning but I know that’s not normal! ha ha 🙂

  • Kerrie
    August 17, 2016

    I definitely a procrastinator! I’m doing it right now, reading blog posts! Thanks for the tips!

    • Rica Lewis
      August 18, 2016

      Ha ha, Kerrie. Sorry to be a party to your crimes. 🙂

  • Molly Stevens
    August 17, 2016

    Guilty as charged! I am especially good at overestimating how much time looms in the future to get things done that I’ve postponed. I think indulging in wasting time on social media has become one of my weaknesses. And then I don’t feel good about myself and the cycle continues. Thanks for your insight and suggestions, Rica.

  • Mia
    August 17, 2016

    Oh my goodness, I feel like you wrote this post about me! Haha. I’m the biggest procrastinator ever. And what you said about the mythical tomorrow, the day that never comes? YES, I can so relate. I tend to do everything other than the things that need to get done most, and then say, “That’s OK, I can do it tomorrow.” UGH. 🙂

    • Rica Lewis
      August 18, 2016

      Ha ha, Mia! So glad you enjoyed the post. I have used “tomorrow” far too often. I need a better excuse. 😉

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