So the idea for this missive came from the fact that even though I had some bonus time today, it seemed I was doing everything BUT sitting down and writing this post. I was answering emails, cleaning the kitchen, texting, taking phone calls and doing everything BUT this BIG To Do on my list!
Do You Procrastinate?
As I sit here in attempt NOT to procrastinate –I’m thinking about the ways which I do, The Whys and the Systems that help me stay on track. (maybe I should take a break and make a sandwich?)
Here We Go…..
So here’s what Merriam-Webster has to say…..
To be slow or late about doing something that should be done : to delay doing something until a later time because you do not want to do it, because you are lazy, etc.
I used this definition because I want to begin this conversation without procrastination Shaming. That’s not the point. We all know that we feel bad when we put things off. It’s obvious that it doesn’t empower us to accomplish tasks when we are feeling bad. When our brains go there, it creates a sad spiral that results in…. MORE Procrastination. So I think it’s much more useful, to take negative words like lazy OUT of the equation. If you procrastinate, you are a normal human and you are not alone
I think that putting off the important things is something we all struggle with from time to time. So the first step is to back off the self-criticism, create some understanding and stay nice to yourself. I find that this simple brain reframe can go a long way to help me refocusing on tasks
Next Step..... Notice WHEN you are procrastinating. There are days when we don’t get things done because we are busy doing other things. There are days when we don’t get things done because we are putting them off. There’s a big difference.
Then the question is WHY? There are a myriad of reasons.....
In my experience, understanding the reasons why and assessing the patterns is the key to shifting habits!
Here are some thoughts and solutions.....
Fear of Failure and Success
Sometimes it’s hard to move forward because we fear the next steps. It makes sense that when we fear not being able to reach our goals, it feels easier not to bother than to travel a rocky road getting there… So we freeze and do nothing
However, oftentimes we actually put off what’s important because it may actually bring us closer to achieving our dreams!! It sounds insane, but the fear of success can be crippling for a lot of people. IF I make that phone call and …… fill in your dream…… manifests, what happens next? So instead of moving forward, once again, we freeze and do nothing.
The key is that when we recognize either thought pattern, it empowers us to make that next move!
- Get the energy flowing by doing ONE simple brave task - like a phone call, answering an email, or making an inquiry. OR
- Set a timer and work on a project for an short period of time (10 minutes to the maximum of an hour)
- Acknowledge how fabulous you are for getting that ONE thing done :)
Not having a plan or Prioritizing
It’s so easy to get caught up in the little details of life, the not important projects, and the things that don’t matter. Why? See #1 It’s easier on some level to do what’s not important because our success in that task doesn’t really matter! Staying busy seems to be all the rage nowadays and busywork is often easier than strategic goal planning and task management. But when you have a plan, it's easier to refocus and get things done!
- Be clear on what your goals are. Write ‘em down!
- I recently hung a sticky note on my desk that reads. “Does this task relate to and assist my long term goals?” The long term goals are written on another sticky below it.
- Make a List of to-dos & Prioritize what’s important
- Constantly reassess the tasks you are doing. This way you aren’t procrastinating about the tasks that really matter.
Being overtired or overwhelmed
It’s easy to lose focus when there’s too much going on or if you are too tired to focus at all. Those successful book writing motivational authors say that we really only have the stamina to focus on 2-3 important long term big goals at one time. That was a sobering one for me to read! If you have too much going it becomes way too easy to procrastinate about the bigger picture tasks. And if you’re sleep deprived it’s too much energy to focus on anything at all.
- Pare down your goals
- Get your rest so you can work at maximum efficiency
Lack of boundaries & focus
The phone is ringing, Facebook's dinging, Texts are jingling and Emails are blinking. It is nearly impossible to get an important task done when all of that energy is spinning around you! It’s so easy to check one message on Facebook then suddenly you’re liking your friends new puppy and you forgot what it was you were supposed to be doing. Media is a procrastinator's best friend. Also, dealing with communications gives the moment solid purpose, it makes you feel like you are doing something useful! However, the reality is that it prevents you from getting the current task done.
- Make your agenda your priority.
- Be real and recognize when you are using communications to avoid other things.
- Set a designated time to handle social media
- Turn off communications when you are working on projects
Please feel free to drop a line back and let me know your tips, tricks and insights. Although admitting my proclivity towards procrastination is a big moment, I could still probably use some help here….
I have to say that writing this article was not only a triumph over the monster but also an eye opening experience for me on the myriad of ways I take time to distract myself. (I did clean the kitchen, make my bed, take a phone call, break to make a sandwich for lunch and strongly consider driving to Baskin-Robbins for sorbet ) Maybe I'll watch some Hulu....
Sending you Love, Light and a goodbye blessing to all of your procrastination demons