Picasso on Procrastination: How to Add a Sense of Urgency to Your Day

Bethanny Parker
Dec 15, 2018 · 4 min read
Not a Picasso. Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

I was listening to Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Habits and there was a quote by Pablo Picasso that caught my attention:

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”

— Pablo Picasso

It seemed like the perfect quote to put on the cover of my new bullet journal, which I happened to be working on as I listened to the audio book.

It wasn’t until after I had written the quote down that I stopped to think about what I am not willing to die having left undone. There are so many things! Suddenly, I was overcome with an intense feeling of urgency.

I have so many books to write and paintings to paint! There are poems and songs to be written, crafts to design, and trees to plant. There are places I want to go and things I want to do. How terrible it would be to die without ever seeing the Grand Canyon or visiting Yellowstone National Park?

I have so much to do! I can’t possibly get it all done in one day. It will take years to cross all of these things off my to-do list, so how can I not get to work and try to do all I can every day?

As I write this, I realize that the list of things I want to do has been growing throughout my life and will continue to grow over the years. No matter how hard I work, there will be things left undone at the end of my life.

If I die in my sleep tonight, will I regret not reading to the kids today?

That’s why it’s so important to take time to reflect and make conscious decisions about what is most important. If I die in my sleep tonight, will I regret not reading to the kids today? You bet I will. That may not top everyone’s list, but spending a few minutes each day to connect with my kids is really important to me.

How to Decide What’s Really Important to You

So how do you figure out what’s important to you? Chances are, you already know. But maybe that knowledge is buried. Here are a few things you can do to help you realize what really matters.

1. Start journaling. Every morning (or night, or both), find a quiet place to sit and write. Try answering these questions with whatever comes to mind: What do I really want out of life? What is the most important thing I need to do today? What is the most important thing I’d like to accomplish in the next six months? the next year? the next 5 years?

If you have buried your true desires, the answers you come up with at first might not be what you really want. You may start out by answering the questions according to what you think you should want, or what you think society expects of you. That’s why you should do the exercise every day. Your answers may evolve as you get to know the real you.

2. Take time to reflect. Don’t limit yourself to just work goals. Work is important, but it’s not everything. Consider what you want to have or achieve in every area of your life. What can you do to make your marriage stronger? To improve your relationship with your children or your friends? Are there relationships you need to work on to further your career goals?

Ask yourself questions like this about every area of your life. What do you want your family life to be like? What skills do you need to learn to become a better person? To become better at your job? What are your health goals? Business or career goals? Financial goals? What do you want to do for fun? Does your spiritual life need work?

3. Make a list. Maybe you’ve already started this. If you have a bucket list, pull it out and start adding to it. Does your list include absolutely everything you want to do before you die? If it does, it’s probably a pretty long list. Go through it and put an asterisk by the things that seem most important or most urgent.

There’ no time to waste!

You have so much to do! What are you waiting for? Stop reading articles and go get started now! You might be surprised at how much you can get done before you go to bed tonight.

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