We spend a lot of time discussing ways to be more eco-friendly and how to manage the resources we have on this planet. Typically this means conserving energy, eliminating pollution, and reducing our collective carbon footprint.
Water, oil, energy…these are all important resources to conserve, but they aren’t the only assets we must be careful to manage properly. When it comes to living on this planet, there is no resource scarcer or more important than time. And, unfortunately, most of us are pretty good at wasting it. It’s time to start reframing time as a natural resource.
Why Do We Procrastinate?
If the average household wastes energy through inefficient habits like leaving the lights on, the average person wastes time by procrastinating. It could be labeled as time’s silent killer.
According to one definition, “Procrastination is the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time,” Furthermore, in order for a behavior to be classified as procrastination, it must be (1) needless, (2) counterproductive, and (3) delaying.
Inherently, we all know that procrastination is bad. It delays the inevitable and makes us less productive. So why do we do it?
- Procrastination is frequently rooted in stress. When you feel stress over a particular task or obligation, putting it off provides a quick burst of relief. The longer you put it off, the more you convince yourself that you won’t have to do the thing that’s causing you stress.
- Some people have a legitimate medical condition that makes it hard to focus on the task at hand – such as ADHD. This makes these individuals more susceptible to procrastination. Others have a condition like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which leads people to look for a perfect solution (rather than just completing the task).
- It’s highly probable that your procrastination is directly linked to laziness. Sometimes it’s easier to lay around and “do nothing,” than it is to expend energy on a necessary task.
How To Stop Being Wasteful With Your Time
Whatever the cause, we all procrastinate – and it’s incredibly wasteful. Every second that you waste is a granule of time that you’ll never be able to recover or reclaim – it’s gone. Let the weight of this sit on you for a bit and you’ll come to realize just how important it is to be more resourceful with the time you have.
Stumped by where to start? Unsure of how to stop procrastinating? We’ve got a few suggestions to get you moving:
1. Use the Two-Minute Rule
Are you familiar with a strategy known as the “Two-Minute Rule?” It states that, if you can do a task in less than two minutes, do it right away. Whether it’s taking out the garbage, moving the laundry from the washer to the dryer, or sending a quick email, knocking out two-minute tasks keeps you productive and eliminates unnecessary procrastination at the root.
2. Don’t Wait Until the Deadline Has Arrived
Deadlines can be good, but they can also lead to procrastination when you know you have a buffer of time between now and when something must be done.
A perfect example of this is the statue of limitations for car accidents or other legal issues. People will often wait until just a few days before this date arrives, simply because they don’t want to address it. Unfortunately, waiting until the deadline arrives often means missing the mark. (It’s hard to file a lawsuit or claim in just a few hours or days.)
The moral of the story is this: Don’t wait until a deadline has arrived to move. Taking action well in advance will leave you with room for error.
3. Do the Worst Thing First
It’s not like productive people never run into tasks they don’t like. They simply know how to deal with them efficiently. If you want to take a page out of their playbook, do the worst tasks first. By checking off these dreaded items, your task list suddenly looks more manageable.
Steward Every Resource Well
As much time as we spend focusing on protecting and maximizing the earth’s natural resources, we don’t spend nearly enough effort stewarding our time in a thoughtful manner. By addressing procrastination and prioritizing productivity and output, we can reverse this trend and become better managers of the time we do have.