Procrastination – To Be or Not to Be…

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Saturday, June 02, 2018
By Emy Fernandez, MBA, Life Coach

Life and Heath Coach

I’ve always not only looked down on myself as a procrastinator, but constantly called and described myself as one – as if it’s a bad thing. Sometimes I carried the label as a “shield” to protect myself from criticism from others and from myself – mostly from myself. Other times, well, I carried it as a “badge of honor” proudly shouting to the world, “this is who I am and I can’t change me!” It’s part of my DNA! 
However, as I’ve matured and become wiser, I’ve come to realize that Procrastination is neither good nor bad, but rather a tool to use when making decisions or taking action in life. It’s our body trying to tell us something.
There are times in life where quick action and decision-making is absolutely necessary. However, there are times when procrastinating, pausing and letting your gut and instinct move you forward is best. Sometimes the move forward can take a day or two, sometimes a month, and at times even a year or two. Regardless, sometimes giving yourself the gift of time can be just what you need to put out your best to the world.
The problem becomes when a “Procrastination” imposter roars its evil head and we use it to excuse ourselves from doing what we have to do – not because the work needs time to marinate, but rather we’re just avoiding having to do it. These are the difficult times, at least for me, when I have to reach deep and pull out the stamina to sit and do the work. 
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we just need to refuel by taking time for ourselves by spending a day relaxing by the pool, reading a book or watching Netflix. This is self-care and something we may need to set us up for the task at hand. However, this is not always true.
I thought it would be helpful for those of you that tend to procrastinate to see a list of some of the things I put off with the excuse that “I’m a procrastinator.” Knowing my list helps me distinguish when the task at hand is truly something that needs procrastination and time to marinate, as opposed to using the “procrastinator” excuse.
1.  Opening mail. I don’t like to open my mail and used to put off doing it for a month or so. Now I open it daily. A very good habit I learned from my husband.
2.  Dropping off and picking up dry cleaning. I used to carry in the trunk of my car 2 to 3 bags of clothes to take to the dry cleaners. When I finally dropped them off, it would be months, sometimes a year before I picked them up. Now, I drop off the clothes the day after I use them and pick them up no longer than a week later.

3.  Cleaning my house. I don’t like to clean so I would put off cleaning for a month or so. The solution was hiring someone to clean for me. Why live miserably!
4.  Paying tolls. When we received letters from the city regarding toll payments that were due I always put the letters aside – and not because of the money. Sometimes the bills were as low as $3.00. I just didn’t like doing this task. Now, as soon as I get a toll invoice, I make the online payment immediately so I don’t have to think about it.  Something else I learned from my husband.
5.  Folding clothes. I used to take the clothes out of the dryer, put them in a basket and leave it in my bedroom. Now I fold my clothes as soon as the dryer stops. Instead of thinking this as work, I think of it as down time to sit and watch some TV! 
These are just some examples, and as you can see, I have most of them under control. But I do keep this list as a reminder in case I go back to my old habits. I recommend you pull your list together (maybe with the help of a close friend or family member that knows you well) as a cheat sheet when you feel you’re not moving forward in your life or feel stuck.
It is my hope with this blog that you be kind to yourself. When used correctly, procrastination can be a friend you can call on when needed, not one to be avoided. A friend who is guiding you to understand whether you should be procrastinating on a task in order to put out something better to the world, or simply using procrastination as an excuse to hide from finishing a task.