I used to be a “just get it done” kind of person, but for some reason I find I am becoming more and more of a procrastinator. I sincerely apologize to all of you whom I’ve judged un-mercilessly about your procrastination tendencies.
Now that I have training and tools and experience working with people, (and myself!) I’ve noticed that there are a few common reasons for most forms of procrastination. If you are staring down the barrel of a big project or even a laundry list of ‘to do’s,’ some of the following may help you.
The first most common form of putting things off is most likely to do with a belief or a thought. I call them: The Procrastinator’s Hit List. Including tunes such as: “The Last Time I Tried, I Failed.” “What if I Make A Mistake/It’s Not Perfect.” “It’s Gonna Take A Long, Long, Long, Long Time.” And the ever-popular “I Know This Will Probably End Badly (So Why Even Start).” These are all classic thought songs which are likely played on a 24/7 loop around any project or ‘to do’ list you have before you. I am telling you, these appear to be ‘excuses,’ but they are just plain lies.
The second most common procrastinating tool is Distraction.
My house gets cleaned. My plants get watered. I find tons o’ things that suddenly warrant my attention that had been lying dormant and un-noted for months, even years before now.
Next up: “I’m SO busy,” has become so socially acceptable it is almost treated like an honour. It’s not. It is our egos having us believe that we are Important (capital I) when we have so much to do, but is terrified of actually getting things done. Because, you see, if we get everything done, then what will we do with our time? How will we feel Important? 'Doing' is a procrastinator’s kryptonite.
Another popular distraction is weariness. Just the idea of tackling a project or list can send me to the couch with a blanket.
Notice that I did not say Conquer or Banish or End. I’m not sure procrastination can ever be eliminated, but it can certainly be managed. (if you are very, very tuned into your inner voice, procrastination may be protecting you from moving forward too soon)
1) Break It Down. Instead of looking at the whole, monstrous project, take your list or project and break it down into manageable pieces. Make a daily to do list of specific tasks related to the project. One sentence. If you can’t describe the do-able task in one sentence, it is too big, break it down further.
2) Fifteen Minutes. One of my favourite ways of ‘dealing’ with my lists is to set my A** down in my chair and set the timer for fifteen minutes. I give myself 15 minutes to work on what needs to be worked on. After the timer goes, if I’m on a roll, I will keep going. But, if I’m feeling like I can’t do any more, I give myself permission to stop. Then, I am more likely to do it again tomorrow. Fifteen minutes of doing something is better than days of days of doing nothing!
3) REWARD THYSELF. Every time I work on a project that causes my procrastinator self to complain, I give myself lots and lots of rewards. I plan them before I even begin. I have a great coffee and good music playing while I’m working and I give myself a bigger reward when I’ve completed my daily to do. I will read a book or email. I will watch a favourite TV. show and even make myself something especially lovely to eat. I never skimp on my rewards, or else I would never get my projects started!
Well, lookie there! I was just going to work on this for 15 minutes and I’m already done! Woo hoo. It’s playtime; catch ya later.
Go Forth and Procrastinate later!