TREE FALL: What Tabasco Taught Me About Procrastination

"Tree Fall" features college-focused stories, tips and inspiration for living Christian values in our broken world.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

James 4:13-17

I stopped doing homework my senior year of high school. I had a study hall the first period of the day, which I discovered gave me the time I necessary to complete everything for that day’s classes. Sometimes I cut it pretty close, but mostly, I was able to get everything done AND get a 4.0 for the year. Then came college.

My first big-boy class was European Civilization, of which I had two sessions. One was a historical focus and the other was on literature. This was the literature class, which focused on the art and writings during the development of the Iberian Peninsula from the beginning of recorded time to the Spanish Civil War. My first assignment? Read a book by the next class. Not a section of the book or a chapter. No, the entire book. In two days. Up until that point, I had never actually finished a whole book that didn’t ask me to find Waldo.

departmentstore
I might take a year to read a book, but I can find Waldo in 10 seconds.

Needless to say, I didn’t finish it. I got about two pages in and fell asleep. I figured I’d be able to wing it on Wednesday. Here’s the thing: In college, there’s no such thing as “winging it.” Gone were the days when I could skim my studies and still nail the test. In college, you either know it or you don’t. My eventual C in that class told me that I didn’t know it.

Why didn’t I finish that book? It wasn’t for a lack of time. I had two whole days. Sure, the book was 300 pages, but that would have probably taken me, what, seven hours to finish? The real issue was that I had other priorities. I had friends to make. I had meals to eat. That TV wasn’t going to watch itself. I had so many ways to fill my time, and I chose any option that wasn’t reading that book.

Deep Exhausted Sleep
Including sleep. Sleep is a valuable commodity in college.

As time went on, procrastination became a constant monkey on my back. For each assignment, there was an equal and opposite fun activity waiting in the wings. It took willpower to manage my time in a way that set up my future success.

Now, it’s been almost 10 years since college, and I still struggle with managing my time effectively. I have obligations at work. I have obligations at home. I have activities I really enjoy doing. I also have a family that I want to spend quality time with. My life is a balance between everything that competes for my attention. Squeezed in the middle of that is also my call to grow closer to God, absorb His Word and sacrifice myself for His will on my life. How can anyone do it all?

elfic-juggler-4
Well, besides this guy.

Priorities.

We procrastinate because we assume we’ll have another day. We put off because we know the dishes will be there tomorrow. We delay because something more fun will always come up. That passage above from James is our reminder that we can never guarantee there’s another day. If you need help deciding how to spend your time, ask yourself what you’d do if it was your last day on Earth. And also ask yourself, what is right? We were all born with a little voice inside that whispers when we do the wrong thing. Listen to that voice, because it will probably make the difference between reading a book about the Iberian Peninsula or seeing who can chug a whole bottle of Tabasco sauce. I’ll give you one guess as to what I did that first night in college. I’ll also give you a guess as to what I spent the night on the toilet regretting.


What do you think? Send me a message or leave a note in the comments!

  • What tasks are the hardest to get motivated to do?
  • What is your favorite procrastination activity?
  • Have you ever learned the downsides of procrastination the hard way?
  • How many hours in the day do you waste?

Bible Verses

  • Proverbs 13:4
  • Proverbs 27:1
  • Ephesians 5:15-17
  • Romans 7:20-21

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