How Saying “Yes” Can Encourage Procrastination

We’ve made it to Day 10 (1/3 of the way) of our challenge! Yesterday, we talked about excuses people make when they procrastinate and how it can lead them to feel justified in their actions. One that is really popular and warrants additional exploration is, “There isn’t enough time to do everything.” We talked in the post about having a packed schedule is one of the contributions to this excuse and how important it is to set appropriate boundaries. Let’s dive into this one a little deeper because it’s important for you to see how saying “Yes” to everything that comes your way can encourage you to procrastinate more.

In his book, Good or God?, John Bevere talked about how there are many good things that Christians say yes to that keep them from doing what God has called them to do. There are many good people you can spend time with that keep you from the ones God has called you to make an impact on. Whether you are a Christian or a believer of another faith, if you believe that we are here for a reason, with a purpose to serve, I want to talk to you specifically today.

Saying Yes Can Cause You to Become Overwhelmed

“We need volunteers for the PTO bake sale this week. Can you help?”

“I’ve looked all over but I can’t find a good editor, can you please help me?”

“There’s a service Friday night and we are short an usher, can you serve?”

“I’d love for you to come on my podcast this weekend. Do you have time to do a recording with me?”

Wait, was that you saying “Yes” to four new activities? Take a moment to think about why it’s so much easier to say “yes” than it is to say “no” these days.

I’ll wait.

What’d you come up with?

  • Then I don’t hurt anyone’s feelings.
  • I can squeeze it in.
  • They sounded really stuck and I’ve been there so I wanted to help.
  • I should be giving my time to the church. We are called to serve.
  • It’s so easy to say yes because I don’t want to let anyone down or upset them.

I may write a post one day about the lies we tell ourselves about helping others but for today, let’s stick to the topic and discuss how adding all these new activities to your schedule is going to affect your already crowded one.

“I don’t have enough time in a day to do everything on my list.”

Remember that coming from your mouth just yesterday? And the day before? And last week after accepting to work on that large project your boss dumped on you?

Your “yes” is getting you into trouble and causing you to not have a life! When you say “yes” to too many activities and tasks, you overextend yourself. This can then affect your sleep, your eating, your family life, and so much more. It is NOT good. You should never give yourself more to do in a day than will fill up 80% of your schedule. And ideally, you don’t want it to fill up more than 30% because you are only at work for 8 hours and then home for 8 hours. And that’s if you work from home and actually work an 8-hour workday (anyone still do this?). Most of us are working much more than that. You must have time for sleep, exercise, family time, chores, self-care, and time to yourself to plan your week. You truly should not fill up your time for more than 80% of what you allot for various segments of it, such as work, family, hobbies, health, etc.

Saying “Yes” Means You Have to Say “No”

For everything you say “yes” to, you now have to say “no” to something else. Multitasking is lie. Our brains can’t focus on multiple items FULLY. So when you multitask, you automatically reduce your quality. For Christians, this should be problematic in its very nature because the Bible calls us to excellence. (Do not read that as perfection.) For everyone, this should be a problem because we should not be showing up in life to do things halfway. That’s a sign of laziness and being overwhelmed with too much to do.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)

So how do we fix this problem? How do you say “no” without walking around feeling like you are letting everyone down? Respect yourself and your boundaries! Understand that you are as important as others and that you also need time for those around you. Even if you are single with no friends and you live at home with a team of people waiting on you hand and foot, you need time to focus on yourself and ensure you are doing things that allow you to have the life you were created to live and serve the purpose you were created to fulfill. Not having a family doesn’t make it that you don’t know what it’s like to overcommit. I see you all out there, doing the work we single parents can leave undone, filling the roles we can’t fill because of the kids, and stepping up to serve where we can’t because we are fatigued from how fast our lives go. Don’t think that I don’t know that procrastination and saying “yes” too much affects every single one of us.

How to Say “No”

This week, you are going to practice saying “no” to anything that doesn’t contribute to your immediate or long-term goals, doesn’t help you spend more quality time with your family and friends, and doesn’t allow you to finish the items already on your task list. Since I can hear the cries already, here are some tips for doing so.

  • Look at Your Schedule
  • Determine Your Priorities
  • Release Yourself from Having to Fix Others’ Problems

By doing these simple steps, which will feel hard at first, you will not hurt others’ feelings on purpose. If it makes you feel better when you first start doing it, open up the calendar app on your phone when someone asks you to help with something or go somewhere. When a boss gives you a new project, open your to do list and ensure they understand what’s already on it. Knowing your schedule and what is most important will help you be able to say no.

Releasing yourself from having to fix others’ problems will take some time if you struggle with mental health issues such as OCD if one of your aspects of it is order. If you have a mental health struggle that will make this harder, talk with your therapist to gain some tips from them on how to do it with your specific challenge. You can still do it, it will just take more work.

For those not struggling with mental health issues and just dealing with people-pleasing, you have to understand that it is not your job to fix what others didn’t properly plan for. It was THEIR job to ask people earlier for help. It was their responsibility to save up for a good editor. It was their desire to go out on a date that led to them needing a sitter so they could have looked for one sooner. You’re not responsible for fixing others lives when you have your own to work on.

I am not saying that you can’t ever help others. What I am saying is that until you are scheduling your life at 80% instead of 110%. We will get there over time, so for now you just have to hunker down and accept that some people may get upset with you, but they are the ones who really shouldn’t be in your circle anyway.

Challenge

This week, go through your schedule to identify your priorities. Say “NO” to everything that doesn’t help you move closer to completing you goals or takes time away from your priorities.

When your boss or client asks for more work from you, share with them how much is currently on your plate and ask what they would be willing to push off for later so you can complete the new work. You may be surprised at how they will often be able to find someone else or wait until next week for their task / project to be compelted.

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