We all have those chores that hang over us, taunting us. We hate these particular chores, and we put them off as long as we possibly can.
For me, it's folding, hanging and putting away the laundry. I'm perfectly happy to sort the laundry, throw it all in the washer and then transfer all that to the dryer. But that's where my interest ends.
It's almost pathological. I will go so far as to fold the clothes, because otherwise I might have to iron. And I hate ironing clothes even more than putting them away. But days later, those clothes will sit, folded, in a laundry basket waiting patiently for me to get sick of looking at them and deliver them to the closet or dresser where they belong.
It can be a long wait. I don't have children, so I don't have little humans asking me every day where this shirt or that pair of shorts could be. And I'm perfectly happy to keep going back to the basket every morning to retrieve some work or play wear. I don't mind the basket takes up a good bit of floor space and that its very presence gives the room a cluttered, unkempt appearance.
Eventually, though, I'll have company coming over or I realize the next load of laundry is going to overflow those baskets. Or I'll just decide it's time to deal with it and put the stuff away.
And it takes me about five minutes.
For weeks, I avoided this chore because I was too tired, or I had something else to do or I just didn't want to do it. I just left those clothes sitting there and that chore remaining unchecked on my to-do list. And it took five minutes.
That's the way those dreaded chores can be. We put them off and put them off and put them off. It's like Mark Twain said, "Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after tomorrow."
Well said, Mr. Twain, well said.
And, should my clothes get wrinkled while they wait for me to put them away, I'll just throw them back in the dryer or find something else to wear. Because I'm really not getting that iron out if I can help it.
But procrastination can cause serious problems. For example, if you're procrastinating making that doctor's appointment, you may be letting an underlying health issue get worse and worse. Or, if you put off calling the bank about a lost checkbook or suspicious charges on your account, you could be helping someone fleece you of your hard-earned money.
And putting off tasks day after day, week after week, causes stress and anxiety because you know that chore is there, waiting for you.
According to www.businesstown.com, a website to help people become more goal-oriented, organized and productive, there are five basic reasons for why we put off today what we should have done yesterday.
•Not being fully committed to the job — You don't see the benefit or reward in a job and you don't think it's a good use of your time, or you feel it's someone else's job, so you don't have internal motivation to get in there and get the job done. If that's the case, the website recommends either asking the task be reassigned or doing it anyway, but for your own reasons. Personally, I never have believed the phrase, "That's not my job." At work or at home, all members of the team need to step up and help out. If you really hate cleaning the windows, trade for another chore, but you still have to help the team accomplish the goal.
•Being afraid of the job — Either you are afraid of failing at your task or you're afraid of being successful. Do something well once and people start to up their expectations. You could set the bar too high for yourself and eventually fail. If you never try, you also never fail. But even failures offer a lot of opportunities for learning and experience. Never trying means you'll never move forward. Confront your fears, whatever they may be, and put yourself out there.
•The task isn't a high priority — The world isn't going to end if my socks aren't properly put away, attached securely to their mate, in the drawer where I can easily find them. Thus, mating up the socks isn't a high priority. I can't even bring myself to do this while I'm just watching TV. But I know that having those socks where they should be will make getting ready for work when I'm sleepy and groggy so much easier. Focusing on the positives of completing a dreaded task can make it much easer to complete.
•Lacking skill or knowledge to complete the task — When you feel like you can't complete the job and you're being set up for failure because you don't know what you're doing, you will find it nearly impossible to finish the task at hand. A little pre-planning, study and seeking expert advice, if necessary, can make a huge difference.
•I just don't want to do it — End of story. That doesn't mean the work doesn't have to get done, but it leaves you with a decision to make. Do you suck it up and shampoo those carpets yourself or do you call a service to do it for you?
If you do decide to "just do it," you may find it wasn't as bad as you had thought. And with that chore off your list, you'll be free to enjoy other activities guilt-free.
• • •
Heather Mullinix is the assistant editor of the Crossville Chronicle. Her column is published each Tuesday. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.