by Annette Bridges. ©2010. All rights reserved.

If you’re like me, to stop procrastinating is easier said than done. I was born in Georgia, after all, so Scarlett’s words, “Tomorrow is another day,” run deep in my blood. My mother never threatened, “No dessert until you eat your veggies,” so I’ve had to work hard to come up with incentives to do whatever it is that I’m avoiding.

Procrastination has its roots in Latin, meaning “in favor of tomorrow.” The fact is, most of the time, it’s not really a matter of me wanting to wait until tomorrow — or next week or next year — to do whatever it is. Usually when I put something off, I regret that I did.

In college, I was one of those students who pulled “all-nighters” to write my papers. Sometimes — miraculously — they turned out pretty good. But then there were other times when I’m sure I could have done a better job if I had not been so rushed. In either case, I never enjoyed the stress and pressure I put myself under.

It’s been many years since my college days, and I still seem to be repeating the same old pattern of putting off. Indeed, I can come up with some elaborate reasons about how “now just isn’t a good time.”

I think there are many reasons why I put off until tomorrow what I could do today. Who doesn’t want to avoid unpleasant tasks? Or perhaps some things just feel too difficult? Sometimes I admit I put off long enough to make it impossible to do a good job. Then I have my handy excuse for failure since I just didn’t have enough time.

The two things I avoid most of all are laundry and doing our income tax. I know they need to be done. I know I have to do them. But surely tomorrow will be a better day!

There are many more things, however, that I hate putting off. And yet, still I do.

I will put off calling old friends when I mean to. Then it ends up never happening. Sadly, days, months, years pass until friendships become only memories.

There are other things I wish I would stop putting off, such as exercising, going for a walk, reading a new book, having lunch with a friend and finishing a project — to name a few. And there are always trips that are waiting to be taken — one of these days — or the diet to begin. However, I have recently begun my diet!

The truth is I often spend more time feeling bad about avoiding a task or project than it would have taken to complete it. And I am getting tired of promising myself that I won’t wait until the last minute next time.

I guess one reason this topic has come to my mind so strongly this week is because I have a new friend I’ve not gotten to know as well as I would like yet. And now this friend may be moving away soon. I’m realizing how lost opportunities come about when we don’t live more in the moment and make the most of each moment. Tomorrow isn’t always a possibility.

I have an old friend who moved away a few years ago. We’ve seen each other on occasion since. But for years we’ve talked about going on a trip together — just us girls. Needless to say, that hasn’t happened.

Well, my friends, that is about to change! I’m putting a stop to putting it off! Sometime in March you’ll undoubtedly be reading about my trip to Italy with my friend. I’m also going to start actually doing the things on my to-do lists. I’m breaking larger tasks into smaller ones, and I’m setting deadlines for myself, accompanied by a reward for getting each one done.

So my message to you today is the same message I’m saying to myself: Stop putting off! No more regrets! There is no better time than the present to be with our friends and family. And why add needless stress to our lives by putting “everything” off until tomorrow? Today is a good day, too!