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Featured Article

Dec 21, 2016

Are you "Christmas Cramming?" (The importance of deadlines)


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It’s just four days to go before Christmas and chances are, you still have dozens of items in your to do list to be ticked. Why do we allow this to happen? We know Christmas happens every year but somehow we always find ourselves in this situation each year.

It’s because we procrastinate. We postpone things that we know we should be doing because of a number of reasons. I am not exempt from phenomenon of “Christmas cramming.” Even if I know I hate the crowd in the malls and the traffic that goes with it, I sometimes find myself postponing some of the things I have to do before Christmas.

The Christmas I was most prepared for was in 1996. According to my OB Gyn, I was scheduled to deliver my third child on December 24. Not wanting to spend Christmas in the hospital, I convinced my body and baby to do it a lot sooner than that. I’m not kidding, I always talked to my baby in my womb, “Come out on December 8, honey. If you do, your birthday will always be a no-classes day because that’s the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.” (Those were the days when Catholic schools still declared December 8 as such.) We did even better; our youngest son Anton was born on December 7, 1996!

On top of my “self and baby hypnosis,” I also prepared for Christmas way earlier than my usual. As early as September I was done with everything!

Why do we procrastinate and the importance of deadlines?
We postpone doing things we know we ought to be doing ahead of time. In Behavioral Economics, we call this the present bias. We are wired to give the present pleasure more weight than pleasure in the future, in the long-term; hence, we procrastinate.

Deadlines have a way of making us finally move. My strong desire to have my baby on December 8 made me do my Christmas errands early because I knew from my Lamaze classes that contractions come when the body is relaxed, well at least the good kind of contractions, as opposed to the stressful ones which can cause premature labor.

We finally start writing that paper as the due date looms closer.

We start moving faster with our Christmas shopping once we start getting invites to Christmas get together, receiving gifts from the early birds, and feeling the cooler breeze in December.

Some people say they thrive on cramming. They get their juices out and become more creative and efficient when they cram; although, I have yet to see an experiment that proves this. But for sure, there are stressful moments that go with all the cramming. And one more thing that’s for sure is the importance of deadlines in our lives. They are our trigger buttons to start moving, almost like an alarm. We cannot ignore them; hence, we move.

But what about the things without specific in-your-face deadlines? What would be our trigger points? Important things like saving and investing for the future? Eating well and exercising for good health? Doing the things we really care about, heeding our calling, our purpose in life? Spending quality and quantity time with loved ones in order to have happy and fulfilling relationships?

Unlike Christmas and my giving birth, or the assigned papers and projects to be submitted, there are no specific deadlines for the above important life projects, and that’s where the problem lies. Because we are all hard-wired to procrastinate, we can go on with our lives subconsciously waiting for the trigger button to buzz. Unfortunately, when we “hear” that buzz, we are most likely already in the danger zone.

So in the next few days, after you’re done with all the Christmas cramming, give yourself time to reflect on those important projects in your life and put specific deadlines and mini-milestones for them. Make several appointments with yourself and set the alarm in your phone calendar, before you find yourself in the danger zone.

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Rose Fres Fausto is a speaker and author of bestselling books Raising Pinoy Boys and The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon (English and Filipino versions). Click this link to read samples - Books of FQ Mom Rose Fres Fausto. She is a Behavioral Economist, Certified Gallup Strengths Coach and the grand prize winner of the first Sinag Financial Literacy Digital Journalism Awards. Follow her on Facebook and You Tube as FQ Mom, and Twitter & Instagram as theFQMom.

Attribution: Photos from fusia.ca, mytutoringhouse.files.wordpress.com put together to deliver the message of the article.

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