“Procrastination is a silly thing, it only makes me sorrow; but I can change at any time—I think I will tomorrow!” (Elder Marvin J. Ashton, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Straightway, General Conference April 1983)

How often have you and I been caught in the trap of procrastination? Was it Facebook? Video games? Texts or Instagram? Fortunately, during Covid, missionaries have learned how to use Facebook, texts, Instagram, etc. as effective missionary tools. Yet, how often have we been distracted and robbed of our time by procrastinating the accomplishment of higher priorities?


  1. The task or assignment feels overwhelming. Did Abraham hesitate or procrastinate when the Lord commanded him to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice? When Brigham Young asked for volunteers to rescue the handcart companies, how would that outcome have changed if they had procrastinated?
  2. Fear of failure. Rarely does anyone want to be labeled a failure. Yet, when Nephi and his brothers failed twice to obtain the plates of brass, did we label them as failures? Nephi did not give up and he did not procrastinate, but successfully obtained the plates.
  3. Fear of success. Sometimes people fear success because if they succeed, then others may place on them even greater expectations. But isn’t that how we grow and progress?
  4. Doing something else is less stressful. How often does the Lord give us experiences so we can learn to rely on Him and we learn we can do hard things?


Adjusting to Missionary Life offers some suggestions and tools for overcoming procrastination:

  • Break down big or difficult tasks into smaller pieces. If they still feel too hard, break them down more. Then act. If you wait to “feel like” working before starting, you may wait a long time. Get started, and motivation will follow.
  • Pace yourself. Vary the work you do, and don’t work too long at just one activity. Remind yourself: All I have to do right now is ______.
  • Plan positively.Each night at 9:00 p.m., plan for a positive, productive morning so you will feel more like facing it. Review your plan with the Lord in prayer. Write down promptings or ideas that come to mind as you pray and prepare to act on them.
  • Don’t procrastinate. Putting things off can lead to depression. Break down big tasks into smaller pieces. Get started, reminding yourself, “All I have to do right now is ______” or “I’ll just do this a few minutes and then take a break if I want.”
  • Set realistic goals, and make specific plans for how you will accomplish them.Tackle things that distress you one at a time. Depression responds well to goals and plans.
  • Let go of what you cannot control. The past, the agency of others, the rules, the weather, government bureaucracies, the culture, your limitations, or the personality of other missionaries are outside of your control. Focus on things you can do something about, such as your behavior, your part in a relationship, your current choices, and your attitude.
  • Realize that everything you do can’t be above average. You still want to work hard to improve, but no matter how good you become at something, you will perform below your personal average some of the time. This is not a cause for alarm.
  • Give yourself extra credit for doing something you don’t enjoy or don’t do well. Don’t tell yourself it only counts if you are happy about it or if you did it perfectly.
  • Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many personal goals at once. Set one or two personal goals at a time (like being more cheerful or less messy). Don’t expect perfection and include a plan for how you will get back on track when you have a bad day. Remind yourself often of why you want to change.
  • Enjoy being a beginner when you are new at something. You aren’t expected to be an expert. It is enough to be curious, interested, humble, and willing to try. Enjoy it!
  • Cheerfully do what you can, and let God make up the difference. Sometimes missionaries feel useless or ashamed when others look more successful. If Satan tempts you to doubt yourself or compare yourself to others, remember that this is God’s work, and He chooses the weak and simple to do it. He has chosen you! Trust Him. He trusts you!
  • Envision success. Worrying can be a way of mentally practicing failure. Instead of rehearsing what can go wrong or constantly worrying about “what if,” mentally practice positive outcomes and make plans to achieve them. Then if things don’t work out as you hope, imagine yourself learning from the setback and going forward.

May the Lord bless us to go and do … now!