“Give me a word” and the Problem of Procrastination

In the sayings of the desert fathers, one of the most common starting points is the request of an ardent disciple to an illumined elder, “Give me a word” (Εἰπέ μοι ῥῆμα), which could even be translated as “Tell me a verb.” Tell me what to do, so that I might have that reminder in my heart guiding me to the safe haven of Christ’s love. Those who follow the incarnate Word (Λόγος) should have no doubts about the importance of logical words or reasonable verbs (λογικά ρήματα). Christians have indeed long known what twentieth century psychologists first began to quantify: words matter because they … [Read more...]

Procrastination, Behavioral Analysis, and the Spiritual Life

As procrastination became identified as a predicament for therapists to tackle, most clinicians initially posited that the nexus of the problem was located in personality traits. After all, some people just naturally tend to put off tasks, while others get them done right away. This reasonable assumption, however, kept the focus on a rather intractable problem: to minimize procrastination in those who have a tendency to put off onerous tasks, it is necessary to modify the procrastinator’s personality, but that personality is naturally resistant to any kind of major change. Even more … [Read more...]

Procrastination’s Payoff

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the … [Read more...]

Strategic Delay vs. Procrastination

Our earlier posts in this series concerning procrastination dealt with the magnitude of the problem. Under ordinary circumstances, I would first define the issue before tackling its scope. I chose to handle procrastination in reverse order since many people don’t consider procrastination to be a serious problem. They fail to recognize the long-term physical, social, emotional, and spiritual toll habitual procrastination can have on themselves, and in so doing they resemble people who, though sick, are unaware of the sickness, only to have to deal with the consequences of the sickness when it … [Read more...]

The Problem of Procrastination

In our fast-paced society that prizes productivity and efficiency, procrastination is clearly a problem that can sabotage career and advancement. In a world preoccupied with high stress and low self-esteem, procrastination can be a serious issue contributing to more frequent physical illness as well mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. And even in Christian circles, procrastination can be a spiritual snare, for procrastination in repentance and the keeping of God’s commandments can destroy our very souls. Even though failing to follow through and complete an intended task until the … [Read more...]

The Distractions of Social Media and Procrastination

It would be nigh impossible to discuss the topic of procrastination without delving deeply into the phenomenon of distraction.  It is the fuel and energy that provides procrastination with such a powerful force in contemporary culture.  Just as it would be difficult to examine procrastination in the absence of a discussion on distraction, it would be nearly impossible to look at distraction today without analyzing the effects of the technological revolution. While advances in technology have provided many benefits especially in the areas of the health sciences, it can have deleterious … [Read more...]

Putting off for Tomorrow: A Series on the Problem of Procrastination

In this new series, we will explore the nettlesome problem of procrastination, which affects the most of us at some point in our lives. In fact, one study found that 95% of the population has experienced procrastination in one form or another.  Silver and Sabini (1981) label it a psychopathology of everyday life.  Its manifestations can cause havoc in our personal relationships, careers, and our spiritual life. Not getting a term paper done in time may not be the end of the world, but not preparing for the Kingdom of Heaven in time could mean being shut out of the bridal chamber like the … [Read more...]

Strategies for Dealing with Impulsivity

Our lived experience tells us that today impulsivity can be a disorder that affects many people of all ages in a sundry of situations with a variety of objects that are the focus of pathological impulsivity. The object of the impulse in the mind of the impulsive—such as delicious food, a glass of alcohol, the slot machine, or the search for images on the internet—can become so overpoweringly tempting that the impulsive throw caution to the wind, time after time, and sabotage their own lives. Psychologists and therapists have confirmed the nature and extent of the problem.  We know that “just … [Read more...]

Overcoming Impulse Through Relaxation and the Prayer

In a previous post, I wrote about our innate double-mindedness and how those two minds are often at war with each other when it comes to addictive attractions. At the time of temptation, the rational mind finds itself hijacked by a hyperactive impulsive system that grabs our inner steering wheel driving us down the road of impulsive behavior. For the impulsive, there are certain triggers that are experienced through anyone of their five senses (or even memories of those sense impressions) that excite them and propel them toward the impulsive behavior. Focusing on those triggers or even … [Read more...]

Impulsivity: Just Say No or Just Say Yes

In the early 1980’s, First Lady Nancy Reagan kicked off a signature campaign against drug use in the United States. She called it the “Just Say No” to drugs.  The phrase was memorable, catchy, and seemed to be the essence of simplicity itself.   After years of failure in the presidential sponsored “war on drugs”, many believed that the First Lady had found something that just might work. Decades later, we know that the “Just Say No” campaign didn’t work.  In fact, some may argue that it had the opposite effect, especially in urban areas like New York City where the crack epidemic was about to … [Read more...]