expressions of procrastination on a chalkboard

There are all sorts of little expressions people use to give themselves permission to procrastinate. Most people don’t recognize that this is what they are doing when they use these words. I call these little expressions procrastination tips because if you are aware of them, they can alert you to the fact that you are delaying a task or a decision and procrastinating.

Let’s review some of these procrastination tips, as I’m calling them.

Just For Now

Have you ever said to yourself I’ll put this here, just for now? Your intention is to come back in a little while, move the object, and put it away. Nine times out of ten, the object stays in that ‘just for now’ spot for a long time. Before you know it, you’ve piled a few more things in that just for now spot and then you have a massive stack of clutter.

In all honesty, though, there are times when putting something down just for now is unavoidable. The key is to have a plan to come back and move the things to where they belong.

Later and Someday

Then you tell yourself, I’ll deal with this later. You don’t want to do it now because it’s a huge stack of stuff. You think you don’t have time now to take everything to their assigned homes. Maybe the real problem is that the objects don’t have assigned homes, you don’t know where to put them so the just for now spot is their temporary home until it doesn’t work anymore.

Telling yourself that you’ll do it later is a problem because later is not a time. Later never happens. Just like someday. When clients say they want to wait to do something ‘someday’ I always tell them that we have Sunday through Monday. There is no such day as someday so someday will never come and whatever it is they want to do won’t get done unless they schedule it.

It Will Take Too Much Time

Quite often we overestimate the amount of time something will take to do. We give ourselves permission not to do it by giving ourselves this procrastination tip: it will take too much time. In reality, we don’t know how much time something will take to do. If we don’t start, there’s no way to estimate when we will finish.

The perfectionist in us wants to know that we have enough time to start and finish a task before even beginning. So, when we want to delay starting a task, we tell ourselves it will take too much time or more time than we have available at this moment.

We delay and then the question remains, when do we ever have exactly enough time?

I’ll Get Around to It

Have you ever said, I’ll get around to it in response to someone asking you to do something? Last year I heard Dr. Joe Ferrari, the author of Still Procrastinating: The No Regrets Guide To Getting It Done, speak. He has a chip that he passes out to his audience members which is imprinted with the words round2it. He tells the audience to hang onto the chip to remind themselves to do whatever they said they’d get around to doing. 

This expression, because it doesn’t have a day or time associated with it is another delay tactic. You never specifically say when you’ll get something done. You just indicate that when the spirit moves you, you will get around to it.

Just This Once

This last expression rounds out my list of procrastination tips. Saying just this once gives ourselves permission to slack off or to avoid completing a task. Just this once, I’m not going to fold the sheets. I’m going to leave them in the laundry basket until I’m ready to put them on the bed.

Just this once, I’m not going to empty the dishwasher. I’ll use the clean dishes from the dishwasher until the sink is full and there are no more clean dishes to use. Have you ever used this expression and then had it backfire on you?

When we become aware of the ways we trick ourselves and give ourselves permission to avoid tasks or delay making decisions then it is easier to recognize the fact that we are procrastinating. Did you notice a theme among these procrastination tips? Most of these expressions would not help us delay if we assigned a day and a time to the task at hand.

If this is a habit you want to change then keep these little procrastination tips handy.

Understand that when you use these expressions you are hijacking your own efforts to get things done.

Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release, Repurpose, Reorganize in Atlanta, Georgia. Diane specializes in residential and home-office organizing and working with people affected by ADD, hoarding challenges, and chronic disorganization. Follow Diane on FaceBook for more organizing tips. 

16 Comments

  • The power of speech, especially our own, is hard to overemphasize! I remember one year I got a pot holder that was called a “Round Tuit.” It had a funny poem about what we would do when we got around tuit, and now we had one:) A funny way of observing our tendency to put things off.

  • LISA GESSERT says:

    ah yes the ever helpful “i’ll get to it later” syndrome! Great blog and some great tips! Thank you

  • You nailed the common procrastination phrases. And these seemingly innocent sentences can turn into challenging behavior of delay and non-decisions. As I read each phase, I could hear various clients saying those exact words. And when I hear those words, I see them as red flags. So in most situations, I will ask some additional questions to encourage some decisive action on the client’s part. However, there are times when they just aren’t ready. And if that’s the case, we leave it there. However, we at least talk about it first so that the not-doing is a conscious decision as opposed to a “go-to” response. Thank you for gathering all the common procrastination phrases in one place. I love this list!

  • Ahh, the dreaded “just for now” statement. That is one of my pet peeves. It was one that my mom would say all the time. And the item was never moved. I placed bins on the steps and use them for “just for now” items. I do not want to walk up and down steps for one item, so I placed bins on the steps, and when I go upstairs, I check the step bins to pick up items that go up. It works well. I seem to be the only one using it unless the kids are looking for something. lol

  • I don’t think you forgot one common phrase that we use to procrastinate. I do admit to saying, on occasion, “just for now.” For instance, if I’m crumbling up a piece of paper that I no longer need, I might put it on the the table next to me and when I am ready to get up, or go into the next room, that’s when I’ll toss it.

    On another note, I’m sending a virtual hug and my heart felt condolences on the loss of your brother. I know you are hurting and it takes time to begin to heal. I lost my stepmother last week so I do understand how you are feeling and what you were going through.

  • “Understand that when you use these expressions you are hijacking your own efforts to get things done.”

    The messages we tell ourselves are the ones that guide our behavior! You are SO RIGHT about these, but especially “just for now.” I’ve seen myself drape a discarded cardigan over the back of a chair instead of hanging it up. Hey, it’s just for now. We have to catch ourselves and change those persnickety phrases you’ve noted into something else. “Just for now…I’ll start my habit of putting things away right when I stop using them. “Just this once…I’ll put my energy into sticking with a positive habit!”

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Thank you, Julie! I love the way you turned the expression around to a positive force to motivate different behavior.

  • Deb Lee says:

    We can use language to convince ourselves to procrastinate or take action, so why not use the words that will help us to move forward? It can help to connect those words to emotions. I often remind myself how amazing (or gratified or proud) I’ll feel when I’ve completed a task. I could just as easily say “just this once” but the feeling I’ll have won’t be so great. That’s usually enough to get me moving and avoid putting things off.

    P.S. I just read another comment about the loss of your brother. Sending lots of positive thoughts your way.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Deb, You’re absolutely correct. We can put our language to good use and let it help propel us forward.

      Thank you very much – it’s a rough patch for me.

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