We all have these tasks on our to do list that sit there forever. Sometimes it’s because they’re too time-consuming and we just can’t find the time to get them done. Sometimes it’s because they’re not important and they keep getting bumped to the bottom of the list. But ever so often, they are tasks that we keep procrastinating, because we really don’t want to do them.

In my case, they often involve phone calls because for some weird reason I intensely dislike making phone calls. I love calling friends and family to catch up, don’t get me wrong, but calling people because I need something from them, calling them to ask them to do something for me, that’s really not my hobby. So I postpone these calls and often end up either emailing or doing it in person (which I find a lot less stressing, don’t ask me why). 

I’m sure you have the same, though maybe not with phone calls. Maybe it’s confrontations you’re avoiding, maybe you strongly dislike asking for money. We all have our weak spots, types of tasks that make us procrastinate… So how to overcome procrastination?

The key is to make conscious decisions in these cases. You see, not acting is also doing something. It may only end up being the wrong thing, but it’s still doing something, namely procrastinating. So you need to consciously decide to act.

Decide if you need to act

First of all, you need to decide if you really need to so something. What would the consequences be if you didn’t act, if you let it be? Are these consequences something you can live with, are these acceptable to you and to your ministry? Think about this and convince yourself of the best route to take.

There are certain situations in which doing nothing can be okay. I’ve been a manager in a hospital and I’ve learned to not jump on every problem that occurred there, because some situations would solve themselves, saving me the time and energy. But that doesn’t work for everything, as may become painfully clear after postponing the task again and again. The key is that it has to be a conscious decision to not act, with full understanding of the possible consequences. Then it’s not procrastination, it’s deciding not to act, which is something else entirely.

Decide when you need to act

Then there’s the matter of timing to consider. Is there a deadline, a point of no return for this task? If so, make sure you have this clear. It will help you decide to stop procrastinating because you can’t afford it anymore and decide to act.

Decide to act

If you have made the decision that you can’t let it slide and that the time has come to act, consciously decide to act. Plan the task for a specific time and agree with yourself that there are no more excuses to do it. Then execute the task. Make the phone call, send the mail, write the letter, have the conversation, whatever it is that needs to be done. And afterwards, don’t be afraid to reward yourself with something fun or just simply revel in the feeling of having accomplished something…

What types of tasks always end up on the bottom of your to do list? How do you handle these weak spots? Share your thoughts in the comments!