The Cost of Postponing Little Things

to do list postponing

Have you ever had little things on your calendar or to do list that you kept putting off?

I know I do. I could be an expert at it. It’s a shame I can’t get paid for it. 

One of the things I kept postponing was a simple call to the contractor who built my porch. One of the boards needed to be replaced. This simple item was on my calendar and my to do list, but every time I saw it I pushed it off to the next day and then the next week until eventually months had gone by.  Yes, months.

I’m not sure why I kept postponing.  It was just a phone call.

While it didn’t seem like a big deal to keep delaying, there was a downside:

  • Every time I saw that item come up it was a reminder that I wasn’t getting things done.
  • I judged myself for not doing it.
  • It was always in the back of my mind somewhere using up valuable brain space.
  • Someone could have tripped on my porch and sued me. This is a long shot, but many of the things we delay have big consequences.

Yesterday, when I was once again postponing this item something made me stop and I decided to just pick up the phone and make the call. It took one minute. ONE MINUTE! The contractor was happy to take care of it and by the end of the day my porch was good as new.

I seem to remember learning this before, but I need to keep being reminded. Taking care of these little things makes me feel good. And, 99% of the time they are much easier than I think.

Now, I get to:

  • Enjoy a sense of completion and knowing one more thing is off my plate
  • Be proud of myself for taking care of it
  • Feel more secure that my porch is safe and in good shape

We need to allow time for these little things and recognize that it costs more than we know to let them slide.

Here are some simple ways to accomplish this:

  • Set aside a short period of time each week to get the quick and easy items out of the way.
  • Do them in batches. Productivity experts say this will save you time.
  • If anything will take less than 5 minutes, just do it. You will spend more time writing it down or putting it on your calendar than it will take you to get it done.

Incompletions are a type of clutter and they weigh you down. Sometimes completing them is as simple as choosing not to do them, like giving yourself permission to not finish a book you are not enjoying. And sometimes, they are as easy as a one minute phone call. I encourage you to clean up your to do list one way or the other.

It will feel so good…

Related Posts:

Is Tidying Up the Secret to Happiness?

How to Bring Balance to Your Relationship with Time

6 Proven Ways to Reduce Anxiety

Photo: Flickr

10 thoughts on “The Cost of Postponing Little Things

  1. Flora says:

    Hi Linda,

    It is amazing how we let things drag on, especially little things that could be resolved so easily. I’m sure there’s some irrational fear lurking beneath the surface to explain it, but even when we know how great we’ll feel afterwards, we still have to go through this lesson again.

    We must be proud of ourselves and grateful that we recognize it and can eventually push ourselves through it. Yay for us!

  2. Robert says:

    This is so true! I use this approach at work all the time. If I can answer an email quickly, I get to it. Saves me from flagging it for later and then seeing a long list of emails I need to respond to. Keeps the do to list short which in turn reduces the stress.

  3. Nicole says:

    I needed this today! I have about 5 things I’ve been putting off for a month…just little things! And you’re right-they ALWAYS take less time than I think and I feel so much better when they’re done. I’m going to schedule time each week to get those taken care of. Thanks!

  4. Lynette says:

    For years (yes, years), I’d been putting off filing a 4″ stack of papers that just didn’t seem to have the right kind of file to put them in. Then a few days ago we had a scheduled all-day power outage. Obviously, I couldn’t work at the computer, so I tackled the stack instead, since I have a big picture window for daylight in my office. It turned out to be a quiet and pleasant task, and EVERY SINGLE PAPER from that stack is now in its proper place, and this task no longer haunts me! SO freeing!

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