My teenage son’s is famous for responding to me with, “I’ll do it later Mom,” whether it’s cleaning up the dishes, taking out the trash, or putting his laundry away. He’s a good kid, and I don’t think his response is that different than most his age, but why do some adults still espouse to this philosophy? They put-off certain work projects that are necessary, or they let stuff pile on their desk, table, or countertop until eventually they  shove it in a cabinet or drawer, thinking “I deal with this later.”

Where does all this procrastination lead? You’re stressed thinking about all your unfinished tasks and wondering if your job will be affected. Going through those forgotten piles becomes an overwhelming task and you end up loosing things, wasting time looking for things, or living in an environment that is cluttered and unsightly. On top of all that, usually the time and effort to do the task or complete the job would be much less if you’d just done it in a timely matter instead of putting it off.

Rather than deciding this is just how life goes, change can come in a few ways:

  • Develop Good Habits – You brush your teeth everyday, why not allow a few minutes each day to clean up (mail, paperwork, dirty dishes, etc.). Go through your closet once or twice a year and get rid of those items you no longer wear or do not fit you. Make a donation run every quarter rather than piling things you no longer want or need in your garage.
  • Healthy Routines – Maybe getting to the gym everyday is just not in the cards for you. Can you go 3 times a week? Can you walk for 20 minutes everyday?
  • Develop Awareness – Change does not happen overnight, but when you start being aware of a problem you may be able to stop it before it gets too out of control. If a pile is mounting and you’re about to add one more thing to it, stop yourself and make a time to deal with the pile. If you just spent 10 minutes looking through your cluttered inbox for an email you’re certain is there, rather than just getting frustrated, make a plan to clean out your inbox over the weekend or that evening.

Stop making excuses – life is busy, there are too many things to do, other things are more important to you, etc. Start performing common tasks (e.g. doing the laundry, cleaning up, or cleaning out your inbox) on a regular basis and you’ll see the time involved is less, your stress will be lower, and the likelihood of completing as task is much greater.