You see I recently discovered that I was a secret procrastinator! Secret because I HAD NO IDEA I regularly procrastinated. I consider myself a do-er – one of those people who does what they say they will, often going above and beyond what’s expected.
In the last 10 years I’ve changed careers, built a successful business from scratch, moved country, moved again to a small island, built a cottage with my hubbie and started a B&B business. I DO stuff. Finally facing the fact that sometimes I am a TERRIBLE procrastinator has been hard. Which is probably why I’ve avoided admitting it to myself for so long (oh – the irony!).
What does my procrastination look like? Well, I’m great at doing things with deadlines – things that HAVE to be done. But as soon as things get a little complicated, difficult or scary I stick my head in the sand and just don’t think about it. Like booking my root canal (OK, so many of us would probably procrastinate over that!). I regularly procrastinate over replying to emails which require me to do extra work or thinking (the hassle – sigh, do I HAVE to?). And most recently it took me 6 months to send a survey to my readers – because I was avoiding taking up people’s time, the tedious work of reviewing old surveys/questions and building the survey which is fiddly and time-consuming.
What woke me up to my procrastination was a business action I gave myself over 2 years ago, to contact the ICF (International Coaching Federation) to see about becoming an official business partner (for my coaching tools for coaches website). Then, a couple of months back, an email from the ICF went out to over 20,000 coaches with all the business partners listed in there – and I realised, that could have been me, if only I had got my act together. A great business opportunity missed because of a “Who do you think you are?” gremlin.
“Procrastination is like a credit card; it’s lots of fun until you get the bill.”
I could so easily blame this on my ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). But as I think about all the things (big, small, time consuming and over in seconds) that I have procrastinated over, the reason for my procrastination is always a fear of some sort. And often a fear I’m embarrassed to admit. A fear of what someone may think, or of feeling trapped doing something I don’t want to , or as with my root canal – just plain fear of the unknown.
When we’re conscious of our fears, we can do something about it. But when we avoid looking at our fears, then those fears control us. You can’t deal with something you’re not willing to acknowledge.
So since my procrastinatory(!) revelation, I’ve been really paying attention to what I avoid doing. And I’ve been facing my procrastination fears, then making a conscious choice of when to do it. I may do it now or later on today, but I could equally give myself permission to do it next week or next month. And the procrastination tips I learned are that 1) once I’ve admitted my fears, 2) when I give myself permission to do it later, and 3) set a deadline, I actually do it!
And that’s what it boils down to. There is nothing wrong with procrastinating – as long as it’s a CONSCIOUS decision. That means you have to know what you’re avoiding – and why – however silly the reason, and then simply make a choice. Choose to do it at a predetermined later time, or face it now and get it over with. It goes without saying that the relief and satisfaction you feel once you’ve done something you’ve been putting off is huge.
Here Are Your 3 Steps to Successful Procrastination Tips:
Before we start, I’m assuming this action is something you WANT or NEED to do, but if you’re not sure, you could use one of these 5 quick tests to check here >>
- ADMIT YOUR FEARS – HOWEVER SILLY OR IRRATIONAL
a) List all the sensible and rational reasons you may be avoiding it.
b) Now, list all the silly or irrational reasons. Just keep your pen moving after writing out the rational reasons and include whatever pops into your mind. Ask yourself, “What am I SECRETLY afraid of or avoiding here?”
- GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO DO IT LATER!
Before moving forwards, simply give yourself permission NOT to do it until you’re ready.
- COMMIT TO YOURSELF!
Finally, WHEN will you do it? Pick a date and time. A great tip is to make it FIRST thing eg. when you get to work, straight after lunch or when you get home – before you get distracted…
And the best of all the procrastination tips: DO what you said you’re going to do!
Oh – and there’s a bonus! Facing your procrastination and DOING the difficult stuff is good for your self-esteem too. I guarantee you will feel better about yourself.
So, stop unconsciously procrastinating and move to a CONSCIOUS procrastination – a commitment to yourself of, “I won’t do it now, but I WILL do it next week”. Just don’t wait too long – some opportunities once missed are gone forever.
“Procrastination is, hands down, our favorite form of self sabotage.”
If you liked this article on procrastination tips, you may also like:
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- Increase Your Productivity – Do Less and Be Happier With These 3 Simple Steps!
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