Monday, January 20, 2014

Five Ways to Beat Procrastination

We all are bitten by the procrastination bug at one time or another.  Sometimes it is putting off doing things that are necessary.  For instance, we know we need to get our taxes done but oh, how we hate actually diving in to the work.  Sometimes, it means putting off doing something that isn't required but that if we would only do it, we would be so much happier or comfortable.  For instance, we know that we don't have to stay in a thankless job, but the agony and uncertainty of procuring a new one keeps us stuck.  When we are struck immobile by the dreaded disease of procrastination, what should we do to move forward?  Having succumbed to the tyranny of procrastination on many occasions, I have some recommendations:

Get Going

I know, I know...that's the problem!  What if you lower the standards so the job is less intimidating or overwhelming?  Do it anyway but promise yourself you don't have to do a good job or even stick with it very long.  You just have to start.  For instance, I might tell myself that today, all I have to do is start putting all the tax information into piles and tomorrow I will complete the next step. Or I tell myself that I don't have to write a good blog post or a lengthy blog post, I just have to get something down. Sometimes that is all it takes to get me going and then I continue just to get it done. Or maybe I start and then wait until tomorrow to move to the next step as  planned.  Either way the road block of procrastination is broken. 

Determine the Meaning

Sometimes procrastination or resistance has meaning.  If you know the meaning, then you have choices.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What was the last thing you did related to the task?  Have you not started at all or are you part way through?
  • Where do you need to go from here? What is the next step?
  • What is the price of doing the task and the payoff for finishing?
  • What happens after I finish this?
Maybe you were into a project and stopped because the direction you were going in is the wrong direction, maybe it's just uncomfortable.  Resistance could be a sign that you need to change direction.  Or reconsider the next step.  Maybe finishing something has its own message.  When you finish the class then you'll have to look for a job or perform a different responsibility so you put off finishing by procrastinating.  There can be a very important message in the resistance.  If you can figure out the why of procrastination, you may also discover what it will take to move forward.

Draw Your Way Out

Use the technique of branching or mind-mapping.  In the middle of the page write down the task you are avoiding and circle it.  Then begin branching out from the task and write every reason you can think of that you are avoiding the task.  What are you afraid of?  bored with?  frustrated with?  distracted by?  Answer each branch with a response.  Separate fact from fiction.  Solve problems and determine reasons that are too silly to even address.

Schedule a Time to Begin

There is something compelling about a list and a time frame.  Schedule a time to begin the task.  Schedule a time to end or at least to take a break.  Then stick to your schedule.  It is especially helpful if you clear your schedule of other appointments and distractions.  Tell yourself that nothing can interfere with the plan.  Then show that you are serious.  I often do this with accomplishing writing tasks.  Saturday mornings are usually my time to write.  I try not to let other obligations infringe on that time.  If it is unavoidable, then I reschedule for another day.

Talk to Someone

Set up a time to talk to someone who is not only a good listener but also someone who can encourage you in a responsible way. Make sure they know that you don't need a 'yes' man; you need someone who can help you see the procrastination for what it is.  Then unload all your frustrations and concerns about the task you are avoiding.  Now it's your turn to listen.  Have your mentor tell you what they hear and what they see the next step as being.  Caution:  pick someone who is empathetic and resourceful rather than someone who is in a similar position.  Remember how misery loves company?  This isn't whine together session.  This is a compassionate kick-in-the-butt session.

Procrastination is a problem that challenges us all at one time or another.  Check out the books on my bookshelf for some additional resources!

Want to determine your passion and kick start your life?  Check out the Called Woman Conference 2014.  It's the Reinvention Convention!!

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1 comment:

  1. I found myself stuck in writing the second set of novels. Why was there resistance on my part? Instead of struggling with the blockade, I let it rest until I knew where I needed to go. It took quite some time, but if I've learned anything along this journey, God's timing is always better than mine!
    Great post, Lynne, as always!