Do you heave a big sigh when you think about that 'thing' you need to do, then turn away and do something else instead?
We all do this at times. We may not be ready for it, or we fear we can't handle it, we dread it, it's boring, it's overwhelming, or many other reasons. Usually, it's not something pleasurable, or we'd be jumping right in there dealing with it.
Doing something else instead may make us feel better temporarily, but unfortunately, the 'thing' is still there and can grow larger in our minds until we begin to feel anxious about it. Anxiety leads to stress. So what we're doing by procrastinating is dishing a whole load of stress on ourselves. And we've certainly all had enough stress just lately.
There are ways that can help you overcome procrastination and turn it into motivation. Imagine actually attending to that 'thing' and finishing it, so that you don't have to think about it anymore? You could feel achievement, relief, space, freedom!
It may help you to identify what sort of procrastinator you are. Just for fun, see if you are one of these. Don't be proud of your title. Own it for a few moments, then see if you can change.
Perfectionist Procrastinator: Whatever I do won't be good enough for me
Plenty-of-Time Procrastinator: I have all the time in the world to get round to it
Novelty Procrastinator: I've been there, done it, nothing new, big yawn
Over-Booked Procrastinator: I'm too busy to fit it in
Self-Sabotage Procrastinator: I'm just too slow to get it done
Fun Procrastinator: It's not enjoyable enough
Do please add to the list...........................................
I had a boss once who always gave a rush job to the person who had the most work on. He said that busy people will always fit it in, while less busy people tend to procrastinate.
Here's how to stop procrastinating:
- First of all, don't beat yourself up about procrastinating. You'll be creating stress for yourself and it will be harder to get going. Just be determined not to procrastinate any longer.
- Make a list list of everything you need or want to do. It's amazing how seeing your tasks in a list can clear your mind and help you to feel more organised.
- If possible, take each job and break it down into smaller chunks. Small, achievable goals will motivate you. Thinking about the whole lot at once can be overwhelming.
- Create a time-frame or a deadline to complete one small chunk. Make it achievable, not impossible. For instance, when clutter clearing, allocate 15-30 minutes to clearing one small corner or drawer at a time, not tackling the whole room at once.
- Get rid of distractions so that you can focus on the task. Strictly no multi-tasking here. If necessary, make another list of things to revert to when your 15-30 minutes of motivation are ended. Don't keep that list in sight. Move it to another room.
- Mute your phone and put it in another room. It's only for 15-30 minutes.
- Talk to yourself. Say 'I know I can do this job if I put my mind to it, so let's get going. I'm going to feel great when it's done'.
- Then, simply make a start. You'll feel so much better.
A couple of tips:
- Hang out with people who will help to motivate you, not people who climb into your procrastination hole with you, or suggest unreasonable deadlines. Ultimately it's all down to you, but a little inspiration from a positive-thinking friend will help you along.
- Don't forget to reward yourself after each session. Perhaps a glass of wine, or feet up with a cup of tea and a good book, or if you have to return to your other work, your reward may well be more energy and clearer thinking.
Go for it! Let me know how you get on.
Brenda Martin is a holistic stress management therapist, nutritionist, and training provider at Come Alive School of Natural Health & Well-Being, IPHM Accredited.