Procrastination is an ugly word.
A school assignment waits on your desk, but gets pushed aside in favor of something more enjoyable. A list of unanswered emails fills your inbox, but you ignore them once more because there will be time for that later. A deadline set weeks in advance is suddenly upon you, and you find yourself working until midnight because you won’t meet it otherwise.
I know, because I have struggled with procrastination all throughout my teen years. I know what it is like to lie awake in bed, discouraged and angry with myself for taking so long to complete a simple task, if I complete it at all. I know what it is like to let people down, to never reach my goals, and to find myself discouraged and convinced that I am a failure.
But I also know there is hope.
Conquering procrastination is a battle. It’s hard. But we as Christians are called to do hard things, and I am living proof that defeating the vice of procrastination is possible. I have found ways to break its hold on my life, and the result is freedom. I want you to experience that freedom as well.Conquering procrastination is a battle. It's hard. But we as Christians are called to do hard things, and I am living proof that defeating the vice of procrastination is possible. Click To Tweet
Here are five practical ways to overcome procrastination:
1. Set small goals.
Write one paragraph, study one page, take one step. Tasks and responsibilities become less overwhelming when you focus on finishing little pieces at a time. Making your way through a massive textbook is no longer daunting if you look at it in terms of sections, chapters, and pages.
2. Change up your workspace
Open a window, rearrange your shelves, find a picture, quote, or Bible verse to frame and put on your desk. Keep your environment fresh and enjoyable and chances are that the task will become enjoyable as well. If your workspace is cluttered, then most likely your mind will be as well.
3. Make a Check list (and actually check it off)
It is easy enough to make a to-do list, but not as easy to actually complete it. Tonight, make a short list and challenge yourself to check off every item the next day.
Keep it manageable. Jot down a few things that you know you can get done, even if they are things you already do every day. You will be satisfied and excited when they actually happen. Eventually, your list will grow and so will your aptitude to get things done. Start small. Build confidence in your ability to accomplish your goals.
4. Reward yourself
Any time you have reached a goal, no matter how big or small, celebrate! Take a break, read a book, go for a walk outside, or go out for ice cream. When I finish a project, whether it be the final draft of a story or learning the last line of a song, I reward myself from the little stash of chocolate in my dresser drawer (which is a secret, of course).
5. Realize you can’t do this alone
Recruit someone to keep you accountable, whether it is one of your parents, a sibling, or a friend. It is much harder to procrastinate when someone is encouraging you and waiting for a report on how you finished well.
Even more importantly, pray. Doubts are going to creep in, reminding you that you’ve tried to overcome this habit before and failed. When this happens, pull out a store of Scripture to repeat to yourself and remind you that no, you can’t do it, but God can. A few good ones might be Isaiah 26:3, 1 Corinthians 10:13, or Philippians 4:13.
The Truth About Procrastination
Let’s face it—procrastination at its finest is just pure laziness. Worse, it is taking the gifts and talents you have been given by God and replacing the time you should be cultivating them with idleness.
You’re getting older. Your responsibilities are going to grow with you, and so will your habit of procrastination unless you learn to conquer it now. Do you want to be known as a responsible adult on whom people can depend? Or do you want people to avoid putting you in charge because they are never certain when you will get things done?
Managing our time well is not only beneficial to us as individuals, but it is also one of the trademarks of a Christian. When others look at us, they should see people who are responsible, hard-working, and good stewards of the time and talents that God has given us. Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
God has given us time on this earth for a reason. Go out and use it well.