It is amazing how much I accomplish when I procrastinate.
My underwear and sock drawers are in perfect order. I cooked and froze a week’s worth of meals. And I even did my 30 minutes on the elliptical machine.
Why is it that I am being so productive? It’s because I am avoiding and procrastinating on a task. I’m taking the time that should be used to accomplish something I need to get done and am avoiding that task completely.
In order to be “less productive” and accomplish what I really need to accomplish I need to analyze what is really getting in my way. What is at the root of the procrastination and what do I need to get beyond it?
There are two elements that become integral to beating procrastination. The first one involves soul searching and digging down to the root cause of your procrastination:
- I am not going to the gym because…
- I did not apply for a new job since…
- I didn’t call a friend back because…
Start By Answering – What is pushing you towards Procrastination?
Rather than tackling the next drawer to clean, sit with yourself and ask the reason that you are avoiding this particular task. Some possible reasons you might come up with:
- The task is not something that you are committed to doing, and have a great deal of ambivalence about it. It feels like doing it is contrary to your own values or goals. (I wrote a great article on how to say no that may help you get over this!)
- You are unsure about your ability to complete the task and have perfectionistic standards for yourself. You are worried that you won’t meet your own and someone else’s expectations
- There is a time boundary to the task. If you wait long enough you will be able to avoid doing it all together, or have a way of justifying not meeting expectations – after all there wasn’t enough time to do it correctly.
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Honestly Answering to Yourself
Remember that those are just a few possible answers. There are many many more that are unique and personal to you. Some I have heard from close acquaintances:
- You simply don’t like the way another person makes you feel, so you avoid seeing them and procrastinate any contact with them.
- You should have said “no” to the task, and are trying to avoid doing it via procrastination (which basically reiterates point number one above.)
- You’re afraid of the results, especially if your task may require you to change something about your life, just as a medical test or new job placement.
- Your experiences have taught you that you hate doing the task and when you accomplish it you don’t get a sense of satisfaction because it is something that others expect you to do.
Once you have sorted out the source of the avoidance, and have decided not to discard the task, you are ready to move to the next phase.
Get ‘er Done!
Most of the tasks that are prone to procrastination become manageable once the initial step is taken. It is the starting that is so difficult. Once started, it is easier to sustain the action you spent so much time dreading.
So, the easiest way to combat procrastination is to begin. You don’t have to promise yourself that you will finish all you have to pledge is to begin. You have to give it a try by taking a few steps towards accomplishing your goal – that’s all I want you to do for yourself (for now.)
Now, one more pointer to ensure you get started in the first place…
If possible, chunk the task into bits or steps. Do one chunk at a time. It is likely that once you take the first step the rest will follow, and just like one drawer after another gets easily cleaned, one step towards getting something done produces the entire result.
Dr. Ines K. Roe has been helping women in transition rediscover themselves for over 20 years. If you’ve been feeling unfulfilled, are frustrated with your sense of accomplishment in midlife, or simply need guidance on your path to holistic well being, join her ecourses.