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Family Living Focus: Put procrastination in its place

Caregivers often place themselves at the bottom of a long to do list. Once I take care of A, B and C, I will get to my own life. The problem is that never happens for one reason or another. Life’s unexpected twists and turns seem to fill up any spare time you thought you would have for yourself. Each day you are given a finite amount of energy to carry out the tasks set before you. Once you use up that energy it is gone for that day.

Let’s look at procrastination. We can all agree that procrastination occurs when a person feels overwhelmed. As a caregiver you certainly have your hands full. There are many tasks coming at you. As soon as you get a handle on one issue, another equally or more challenging one appears.

What is a caregiver to do?

In the movie, “We Bought a Zoo,” the character Benjamin Mee states, “All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, and I promise you, something great will come of it.” You may be wondering why talk about courage when it comes to putting off self-care or tasks. What if you were told your inability to start something for yourself isn’t due to busyness but it’s due to fear? Our tasks can become our masks covering up what we really need to do. For some caregivers juggling a full schedule becomes an excuse to not focus on their own life.

In this society, everyone is rewarded for what they can produce, in fact the more the better. This is why many are led to a busy life. To be productive is great especially in a helping capacity for another. This work helps raise your self-esteem by instilling purpose into your life, as long as you still make time for yourself.

How can you start putting yourself back into the equation?

Recognize that procrastination is a block. There are no judgments. Remember that it is not due to laziness but rather fear. Acknowledge that you feel afraid.

Make time for yourself. This could mean getting up a little earlier in the morning, asking for help from someone else or taking a half hour break. If you absolutely cannot spare 30 minutes, rest assured that some of your procrastination can start to break down in less time than that, using the next tip.

Take your task and break it down into smaller bits. Small actions will lead to big results. Look to what you can do rather than the largely impossible. What is the tiniest action step that you can take today? Do that. It could be obtaining a phone number to make a phone call. The next step could be calling to set up an appointment. Lastly, it is showing up for your own appointment.

Once you act, reward yourself. Take yourself out for a special coffee, buy yourself a flower or give yourself a verbal acknowledgment.

Love yourself for the great being that you are. You are caring, giving, and generous to others; now share some of that with yourself because you deserve it.

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Information adapted from article by Lisa Hutchinson in Today’s Caregiver.com Newsletter, April 5, 2018 – Issue #1003.

If you would like more information on “Put Procrastination in its Place” contact Gail Gilman, Family Life Consultant, M.Ed., C.F.C.S. and Professor Emeritus University of Minnesota at waldn001@umn.edu. Be sure to watch for more Family Living Focus™ information in next week’s paper.

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