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My car taught me an important lesson.
My Procrastination Lesson
I commute two hours a day in my car. I spend my time:
- Talking with my wife on the phone (hands-free)
- Listening to the Bible, music, audiobooks, and podcasts
- Praying (with my eyes open)
I enjoy my commute time.
This summer my car’s air conditioning fan stopped working. It was not a big problem. It was a nuisance. All I had to do was open the windows and all was well. Whenever I had an opportunity to fix the fan, I put it off for something else. I procrastinated fixing the problem.
A week arrived when the outdoor temperature reached over 90°F (32°C) every day. If that wasn’t enough, my electric windows stopped working throughout that same week. I felt like I was driving a sauna on wheels. I had to stop a couple of times on the way home to prevent heat stroke from setting in. My commute time went from enjoyable to horrible. It drained my energy right from the start of the day.
I would like to blame “bad luck” for the bad situation, but I was to blame. I procrastinated fixing the fan and the problem went from being a nuisance to a disaster. This happens when problems are ignored.
Problems don’t age well.
What Is Procrastination?
“Procrastination = Putting things off intentionally or habitually.”Ludwig, Petr. The End of Procrastination (p. 22). St. Martin’s Press. Kindle Edition.
All of us have done it. It can seem easier to put things off than do something difficult or uncomfortable. If we are not careful, procrastination can become a habit.
Unfortunately, it is easy to procrastinate while leading a small group ministry.
Procrastination in Small Group Ministry
Leading a small group ministry can be time-consuming, even overwhelming. This makes time management extremely important for leading effectively.
Procrastination can be an effective time management technique used for unimportant tasks. But that technique should not be applied to problems.
Problems occur in small group ministry. Many of them initially appear to be a nuisance. Unimportant. But putting off problems is not the same as procrastinating unimportant tasks.
Small problems grow over time to become important. Minor problems combine with other problems to increase in importance. Nuisance-size problems can cause larger problems to occur that can’t be ignored.
How to Get Started
Many books contain different opinions about why we are compelled to procrastinate. Regardless of the reason, most of them agree that getting started on something small is the most difficult and important step to breaking procrastination. Here is a simple 3-step process to get started on a better path:
- Identify a problem you are procrastinating or are compelled to procrastinate.
This could be something that needs to be addressed in your ministry or something more personal that you need to change in yourself.
- Determine the steps you need to take to address the problem.
- Take the first step immediately.
Getting started is typically the most difficult part. The more you think about getting started, the less likely you will take that first step. Do it quickly. Once you get started you will be more likely to follow through the rest of the steps.
How I Recovered from My Procrastination
This is how the 3 steps played out in my situation:
Step 1: After driving around in my “sauna on wheels” for one day, it was easy to prioritize fixing my car as the item I wanted to go after.
Step 2: I had to determine when I had time to get the fix done, which problem (the broken windows or the broken blower fan) that I would do first, and whether I was going to do the work or pay to have it done for me. I decided to do the work myself and get started on the weekend. Then I worked out the steps to take.
Step 3: The first task I needed to do was purchase a service manual. I didn’t have a manual that got into the details I needed to do the repair myself. Once I had the manual, it motivated me to get right into the repair.
What was the result?
The windows were going up and down the first weekend and I had air conditioning blowing on my face the second weekend. I am now back to enjoying my commute. I also have a stronger appreciation for air conditoning and the danger of procrastinating problems.
Stop Procrastinating Problems
God used my car to get my attention. I had been procrastinating things in my life and if left unchecked it would probably have become a habit. I am thankful for the miserable week I spent in my car. My life is better because of it.
Don’t wait until God has to do something to get your attention. Stop procrastinating your problems until they get out-of-control. Address them promptly and allow your life and small group ministry to flourish.