I don't know about you, but I'm an art student. Well, I was an art student—now I work. Still, I love the arts, of course.
Learning about graphic design and drawing—visual communication and meaning-making—is something I happily allow to use up a fair portion of my time.
I make things too. Books, illustrations, paintings, a wooden bowl, soft toys, knitted scarfs, knives, jewellery, (badly sewn) pieces of clothing and garden structures are some of the things I've put my hands to over the years.
In all this, I have no shortage of tasks to set myself to. From a humble concept the possibilities can multiply endlessly unless I stop. Once I have an idea I simply work through the options, weed out the bad ones and develop the good ones until the idea is robust. Then I start.
An oh-so-hard problem
Starting is one thing though—finishing is in its own class. Why is it so much easier to make up many plans and schemes than to complete them? This is a question I ask myself over and over again.
I still have unmade books, half-knitted scarves and a mind and sketchpad full of ideas. Plenty of procrastination and well-meaning intentions—few tasks done!
Many art students have this problem too. Perhaps it's a hangover from the love of the shock of the new, popularised in the mid-twentieth century onwards by postmodern art movements. We can't help but be influenced by the thinking that has gone before and going from one thing to the next is quite exhilarating.
See-sawing could also be the result of our entertainment age or an internalised agreement with the common perception that the arts are undisciplined, messy and ethereal.
Maybe it's just because it's easier to do what's fun and the responsibility to finish something reduces our enjoyment. 'Fun' becomes a chore.
Whatever the reason I know I'm not alone in this. It could be something you struggle with too. You certainly don't have to be an art student or lover to suffer from the woes of not being able to finish a job you have to do.
A simple solution
Happily, there is a simple solution. If procrastination says to do it later, we can say, 'I'll procrastinate later' instead.
The only way things ever get done is one step at a time. Even if there is no linear process for completion (like in learning a language) we still can only realistically do one thing at a time.
The solution really is this simple. Procrastinate later and do one thing now. It doesn't have to be big.
If you struggle with completing jobs and wage a half-hearted battle (sometimes) with procrastination like I do then just decide to procrastinate another time. It's easier said than done but things said can be done.
Once one thing is finished, do the next thing and keep going.
Moving forward is the key, even at a quiet plod: 'slow and steady wins the race.'
The ultimate motivation
Sometimes obstacles seem insurmountable but we need look no further than Jesus Christ for a wonderful example of perseverance to finish a task.
His task really can't be compared to sewing up a half-stitched soft toy and His challenges were beyond what could ever come with such a small project, but the principles Jesus exemplifies teach us a lot for even simple work.
Jesus teaches us to keep working.
Have you ever read the Gospel of Mark? It reads, 'and then... and then... and then...' Jesus ceaselessly completed one thing after another. He never got distracted or side-tracked but finished His work as it arose: one thing at a time.
Jesus also teaches us to persevere.
Luke records in his account of Jesus' life (chapter 9, verse 51) that, despite knowing He would die there, Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem, travelling towards execution because this was the task set before Him.
If Jesus was never dissuaded from His monumental project of redeeming the broken by giving up His life on the cross then how can we so easily give up on the basic, basic things of everyday life?
Jesus Christ died so our sins might be forgiven when we repent and believe—we can procrastinate later to finish a few jobs.
Keep moving forward
Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians (chapter 10, verse 31) that everything we do should be for the glory of God, even if all we are doing is eating or drinking.
On the grand scale Jesus did this and on the small scale we can too.
It's better to do one small thing now, and then another, than to get bogged down or become a time waster—so let's travel onwards!
Irenie How is young yet, by the grace of God, was saved while she was running away from and fighting against Him. God showed her that He is the Lord and she wants you to know this too. After becoming a Christian she finished studying to become a graphic designer and as this she currently works full-time in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Irenie How's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/irenie-how.html