“Procrastination is, hands down, our favorite form of self-sabotage.”-Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby
I was always the student in school to finish things at the last minute. I convinced myself it was because I could produce better work under pressure. I called myself, “Last Minute Lisa”, as putting off the inevitable became a habit. I learned to love the rush of adrenaline to finish a project or study for an exam. As I moved out into the real world, procrastination no longer served me. It stopped being a fun friend. Putting things off became a monster, affecting my work, home and finances. It allowed me to hide from problems. You see, procrastination’s best friend is denial. Denial helps to hide the thing you are putting off.
Many people procrastinate to a greater or lesser degree. It becomes an issue when putting off completing tasks causes problems in your life. One procrastination trap is “I don’t know where to start.” Our minds want to think, and think and think. We love to analyze why we haven’t done something. I had a client say once “if I only knew where it came from, I could fix it.” While some subjects need to be approached gently, other reasons can be our subconscious throwing a curve ball, preventing taking a step toward what you are putting off.
Procrastination is a slick liar. Procrastination tells you to do all the little things that have the least meaning. Distractions seem to pop up all around you, making it difficult to actually getting what you want accomplished. Another lie procrastinators tell themselves is that they work better under pressure. It’s one I believed to be true.
So what are steps to dealing with procrastination?
Be aware that you are procrastinating. You might be procrastinating if…
• You sit down to conquer a project only to decide you need another cup of coffee.
• You have an item on your to do list you have rewritten more than 3 times.
• You are looking for just the right time to get something finished.
• You repeatedly check various technology items, such as your cell phone or email while working on an important task.
Nip procrastination in the bud by identifying it and stop the behavior. Get right back on task. Take a designated break when you need to rest.
Start something now. Just do one thing and one thing only. Notice your anxiety level before and after starting the task. For example, say you’ve been putting off starting a project you’ve been assigned at work. Other tasks might pop in your head as you work, Write them down. Then look at your list when you are finished. If you had acted on the list, you wouldn’t have finished the original task.
Ask for support. Sometimes people just have difficulty getting things started. Working with a friend, coach or counselor can help you step into the fear of getting what you want finished. Remember, procrastination is a learned behavior.
Celebrate. Celebrate after finishing something you have put off. Celebrating marks a pause to honor the fact that you took action. Anything worth achieving takes perseverance. It may not contain the thrill of immediate gratification. Go pick one thing you have been putting off. Just do it and celebrate.