“Never do today what you can put off till tomorrow.”
– Aaron Burr

Whilst Aaron Burr may have been trying to offer words of wisdom, many of us love this phrase because it seems to give us an excuse to procrastinate. Why do something now (that you probably should do now…) if you can put it off until tomorrow? Mark Twain seized this opportunity to say, “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.”

The bottom line is many of us have no problem procrastinating. And who can blame us? With so much pressure and demand on our time, we often don’t have enough time in the day to meet all the demands.

Whatever the reason, it’s easier to be hard on ourselves for leaving everything until the last minute instead of trying to observe and understand our behaviour and habits in a way that can help us choose changes that will be healthier for us.

This negative self-talk is why we find ourselves stuck in unhealthy habits, like eating foods we’d rather avoid, pushing ourselves too hard at work or when exercising, spending money we don’t have or speaking harshly to the people we care the most about. 

Instead of dealing with these things today, we put them off. We procrastinate when it comes to choosing healthy changes in our lives.

So, perhaps, instead of being hard on ourselves and trying to pretend like we don’t procrastinate, what if we looked closer at how we procrastinate so that we can make smaller changes in our decision processes that can help us thrive.

Liz Fosslien, author and speaker, recently shared this awesome insight on LinkedIn. It’s a great observation of why we often land up spending so much time on tasks that are neither urgent nor important.

In her diagram, Fosslien highlights behaviours so that we can articulate our responses and shift them around in the matrix. It starts with running triage on our day and deciding what’s important and urgent and what’s not.

Then, we change our behaviours for each block. We do the urgent and important stuff right away and give ourselves hours to work on it. This will help us avoid overinflating the unimportant tasks whilst allowing healthy focus on urgent but less important tasks for later in our day.

We will also likely find that we will feel less overwhelmed and procrastinate less. Sharing the load of decision-making is also a helpful way to reduce the demands on our time; this can be with our partners, parents or kids, but it can also be with our financial advisor and other coaches or support people in our lives. At WellsFaber, we’re here to help you make better decisions in life and money: we advise, you thrive.