Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Putting an end to procrastination

One of my goals last week was to stop putting things off. Procrastination has been a bad habit for me for a long time. While it took some effort it was interesting and fruitful to spend a week focusing on it. The liberation I felt when I stopped saying I will do that latter was immense. Why did this have such a big impact on me? First we need to look at what causes procrastination and the effect it can have on your life.

I personally procrastinate for two reasons laziness and fear. I do not want to stop doing something that I am enjoying to work on a chore, and I can always find something I want to do to fill my time. The other aspect, fear comes in to play when I am entering a situation where I am looking for an answer and know that when I find it I will not like it.

Even though procrastination is prompted by two different stimuli the results are the same. I find excuses not to do something that needs to be done. If procrastination only meant things did not get accomplished it would still be a problem but the situation is even worse than that. By putting something off we create a negative thought process associated with that task making it that much harder for us to do it the next time we think of it. Most of the time we put something off the problem we are avoiding gets worse. For example let’s say you decide to leave the dinner dishes until the morning to clean then you wake up have breakfast and have more dishes to clean. The problem grows. This is still not the full impact of procrastination. Knowing you have to accomplish something is tiring in and of its self.

When we set aside our tendency to put things off we accomplish more, we attach small projects when they come up and do not let them grow in to larger problems. Most importantly we do not sit around thinking about all we have to do. When the time comes to relax we are not burdened thinking of chores we have to do latter, instead we can truly enjoy our free time without distractions.

So how do you beat procrastination? Here are some suggestions:

1) Look for your stall phrases. I know when I am asked to do something I often hear myself say "I will do it in a moment." Which used to mean: I will do it when you remind me a few more times. Now when I hear those words come out of my mouth I try to pull myself away from what is going on and get to work.

2) Be honest with yourself The problem with procrastination is that we make excuses to ourselves to justify it. We tell ourselves little lies that reinforce the reality we want to be true and disregard the reality that is. When this happiness the only way to deal with it is to call ourselves out for being dishonest and look at the situation as realistically as we can.

3) Face up to your fears When you know bad news is coming avoiding it will only make it worse. Unpaid bills just get bigger and the emotional pain we may cause others just gets harder to forgive. When you are afraid to face a situation and you avoid it not only do you live with the dread of facing it every day but you make the chance of a negative outcome greater.

One other benefit to putting aside procrastination is the feeling of accomplishment that completing projects brings. We have talked about small victories in the past and how they help prepare the way for larger victories. If you want to fill your day with these small wins then stop procrastinating. Every time you do something now instead of latter it is small victory and will help teach you how to be successful.

When you find yourself mired in a swamp of procrastination what do you do to pull yourself free?


Pseudonymous said...

Ok, so i've had this post on my mind, but I haven't known why or how to respond to it.

Yes I procrastinate, but I couldn't figure out what if any my triggers were, or are, so I didn't really know what to do with this. I'm also not sure if I've ever been at a point where I try to even give up procrastinating because i've always felt in a weird way that it works for me.

But I've been particularly sloth-like the last month or so, and today experienced a trigger for procrastination.

I had a cancellation this afternoon and came home all jazzed and ready to get shit done as it were.

Then I got an e-mail from an agency i contract with that totally pissed me off, made me angry, and made me frustrated and somewhat scared for my future livlehood.

I plopped down on the couch and began engaging in self pity and venting to others and basically not doing anything productive. And now, even though the situation is more or less resolved, I remain sitting here.

There's 2 parts to this -- part one is the actual trigger (frustration/anger, i definitely cope with both poorly). The second part is momentum. When you've got momentum, you've got it. When you loose momentum, you're what. . . inert. When I sat down, I lost the little momentum I had.

So, I'm going to try to recognize this right now and then get up and get on with my life. I really need to remember that Momentum is the key -- the more i stop procrastinating, the more i do my dishes, or the more I do my yoga TODAY, the more likely I am to do it tomorrow the next day and the next.


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