Agghh….procrastination!! It’s something a lot of us suffer from and it sometimes really holds us back. I’m writing this on a Friday morning so I’m looking forward to the weekend and it’s ironic that I’m writing about procrastination as I’m allowing myself to get distracted by anything and everything – putting on washing, stacking the dishwasher etc – things which are normally boring jobs, but when I’m avoiding something, they become so much more interesting. When I procrastinate I find time to do absolutely anything but the task that I’m putting off. Typically it happens when I have an essay for my degree course to do and find that I have the cleanest house ever with all my ironing done plus a cake baked (and I rarely do that) before I sit down to the essay. And don’t get me started on social media – the incessant scrolling when I procrastinate is ridiculous!
When I pick apart the reasons for my procrastination, I see that depending on what it is I’m putting off, there’s fear and self doubt. There’s both fear of failure and fear of ‘what happens if this actually succeeds?’ in some cases, both types of fear cause procrastination.
It’s one thing when we have a deadline to work with (like getting an essay done on time), but what happens when we procrastinate when there’s no deadline? We just put things off and off, and the task in question eventually becomes so big that we either feel panic and overwhelm or the task falls off a cliff, we ignore it and feel bad about it.
I’ve found that having a weekly planner of tasks I need to get done provides the structure that I need and prevents me getting overwhelmed, and therefore I’m less likely to procrastinate. I cut my day up into chunks according to what I’m doing and leave time for any unseen things I may have to do. The thing about my planner that also works well for me is that if I’ve written it down, I’m far more likely to do it as the tasks will stare at me until I take action.
We’ve all got things to do which we don’t want to because they’re either boring or we really hate doing them. These are often things which are essential things to do and may hold us back if we don’t get them done. The way I cope with this is to think about the task in question (let’s call it the ‘monster’) and if possible, break it down into smaller tasks, then it no longer looks an enormous monster that I don’t want to deal with. If I can look ahead at tasks like these, break them into the smaller chunks and put them onto my planner, then before I know it, most of the ‘monster’ has been dealt with and it no longer makes me feel panicked or stressed.
If you are a procrastinator and have a bad time dealing with this, the first action to take is to stop beating yourself up. Give yourself a clean slate – only you can do this! Then decide what tasks or actions you need to do and say ‘today I’m going to achieve X’, keep them simple at first and don’t overwhelm yourself. Write down what you’re going to do, or like me, create a weekly planner. Then tick off what you’ve done. There may be occasions when a curveball gets thrown at you – life takes over or you become ill, and you simply can’t get as much done as you wanted. That’s OK and it’s going to happen, again, give yourself a break and start again.
However, there are those of us who make excuses to put things off and there’s something bigger behind the excuse. For example, a lot of people at this time of year will say ‘I’ll start my fitness regime and lose weight in January’. I’d like to challenge this and say ‘why wait?’. What is going on behind that excuse? This is where we really have to be honest with ourselves and answer that question. Using the fitness/weight loss example, challenging ourselves over that excuse would mean answering such questions as ‘do I really want to put in the hard work it takes to get fit?’ or ‘how do I really feel about myself and my body image?’. There may be far bigger things going on than just the excuse given and I would encourage everyone to question themselves when they know in their heart of hearts that they’re making an excuse for not taking action.
Would you like to knock your procrastination on the head once and for all? If so, I can help you do this by delving into the reasons why you procrastinate and help you to find solutions that work for you. Contact me here to get started.
Next month – Q is for quiet. Have you had times when you have been described as quiet when you don’t think you are? Or perhaps you just want a quiet time and people won’t leave you alone? I will discuss both these things in my next blog, out on 1st December.