“Procrastination? You’re Stalled for a Reason,” Ensign, June 1986, 70
Some time ago I received a challenging Church assignment. Nervous but excited, I thought, “I’ll get started on this tomorrow!” Unfortunately, I said the same thing the next day and the next.
Several weeks later, I was trying to throw together a presentation the day before it was to be given—at the same time I was trying to do all the things I normally have to do to keep a household with four small children running smoothly. It was then, late at night when I was exhausted and confused, that I discovered why I had been procrastinating! I didn’t have some of the necessary information and materials. I needed the help of some people I had hesitated to ask. Worst of all, I didn’t really have a clear understanding of what was expected of me in the first place. There was no time to practice; my presentation was a flop. And the worst part was the vision I had of how I knew it could have been!
We procrastinate for many reasons. Not wanting to do something may be one. But it is just as likely that we lack something we need in order to get started. The following ideas can help you get started on your projects sooner and help you break out of the procrastination habit.
Find out what is expected. A careful orientation in any calling or assignment—with specific assignments and instructions—is critical if we are to have the confidence we need to begin. Repeating back instructions when we receive an assignment is one way we can make sure we understand.
Gather information and materials. Develop skills. The Lord expects nothing of us that we cannot accomplish. But sometimes what is expected seems impossible because we lack the information, materials, or skills to do the work.
Gathering information can mean talking with others, brainstorming, or getting information, materials, or ideas from the scriptures, manuals, Church publications, libraries, or classes. It may also involve learning or developing new skills or talents.
Set a goal. Make a plan. Setting a goal means we are giving ourselves a vote of confidence. Written down, a goal seems to say, “You can!” But goals themselves can’t get us started. We need a plan of action. You might make and fill out a chart listing your objective, your final deadline, secondary deadlines, the tasks involved, and the materials needed.
Begin—the rest is easy. Someone once said that the tiniest flicker of effort can cast a whole new light on any subject. The Lord will help us, strengthen us, and inspire us—if we just get started! Christy Williams, Bellevue, Washington