Are you plagued with procrastination? Do you find yourself scrolling through social media or maybe suddenly getting the urge to clean out your entire closet when you know you should be…well…getting other shit done?
Listen: we all do it. If you feel like you are always putting things off until tomorrow…this week’s episode is for you.
I’m busting myths, tackling the reasons why we do it and giving you real strategies and tools to get a handle on procrastination (and trust me, these are effective.) In the video below, I’m sharing what’s been really working for me in my own life to get stuff DONE.
Let’s start with the myths around procrastination. I think universally, there are some general ideas about what a person who procrastinates is like…and I can tell you from my years as a psychotherapist that most of these generalizations are just not accurate. I share this with you so that you can let go of some of the guilt or shame that can accompany chronic procrastinating and raise your awareness around why you do what you do, because only then can you make a positive change in your behavior and set yourself up to succeed.
People who procrastinate are lazy.
If you’ve ever beaten yourself up for putting something off and chalked it up to you being lazy or if you’ve judged someone else who procrastinates and categorized them as a slacker, it might be time to re-think those assumptions.
The truth is that procrastination is a process of motion. It is actually an action. Why? Because the act of procrastinating is in and of itself choosing a different activity instead of the task that you know you should be doing.
While that may seem counterintuitive, by contrast, being “lazy” implies lethargy, apathy or lack of action. In my experience, people who struggle with procrastination are rarely sitting around doing nothing. In fact, they are usually filling up their time with other actions that help them creatively avoid the thing they should be doing.
Only disorganized or unskilled people procrastinate.
What I’ve found in my practice is that many people who identify as high-functioning and have perfectionist tendencies are more likely to procrastinate.
For those suffering from perfectionism, they would rather procrastinate than do something imperfectly. So while they may be highly skilled at a lot of things, there’s a fear or anxiety around completing tasks over which they don’t have complete mastery, and so for the high functioning perfectionist, avoidance is better than doing anything less than perfect.
If you procrastinate, you don’t care.
Much of the time the opposite is true. Procrastinators, especially those with perfectionist tendencies, often care too much about the outcomes of their actions and may spend hours laboring over what they are NOT doing.
People who chronically procrastinate oftentimes also suffer from chronic indecision, which I handled in another episode a few weeks ago (click here to watch it).
Overwhelm, over-giving and over-functioning can also lead to procrastination on things for yourself.
So what’s the cost of procrastination? This might seem obvious to you because you wouldn’t be here reading this if it didn’t resonate with you in some way, but procrastination can have more long term effects than just feeling guilty at the moment.
If you are a chronic procrastinator, you likely spend a lot of time feeling bad about yourself and even beating yourself up mentally over this. You might feel ashamed for not coming through, or not keeping your word…even if it’s just to yourself. Over time, that kind of consistent shame can become internalized and affect your self-esteem, your personal and professional relationships, and your identity. You might find yourself asking on repeat, “What’s wrong with me?”
If this is you, I want to let you know that there is nothing wrong with you. You do have the ability to change your procrastinating behavior. Part of the reason I’m tackling the topic of procrastination is that I, myself, have struggled with this, and I know the pain and frustration it can cause. In this week’s video, I share personal examples and experiences from my own life with procrastination, so be sure to watch it for some solidarity. 😉
It’s important to note that there are some mental health issues that could increase and perpetuate procrastination. Some of these are:
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder
These diagnoses could result in debilitating procrastination so if you have an inkling that you might be suffering from something like this, I encourage you to seek out professional psychiatric evaluation and proper treatment.
What steps can you take to kick procrastination to the curb instead of kicking yourself for not getting things done?
Raise Your Awareness Around Procrastination
Each of us has a specific “brand” of procrastination and in order to stop this behavior, you need to become aware of what your unique “Procrastination Blueprint” is. This could include what you learned within your family of origin and what kind of behavior was modeled for you growing up. In this week’s cheat sheet, I’ve included some questions to help you uncover your personal blueprint when it comes to procrastination, and you can download it here now.
Take a Procrastination Inventory
Make a list of the tasks or actions you procrastinate the most. What are the items that are always getting moved to the next day’s to-do list? It might be helpful to approach this list categorically, as in, think through each different aspect of your life to get a really comprehensive view of your behavior.
What do you procrastinate when it comes to:
- Friendships and Social Events
- Work and Career
- Creative Projects
- Fitness and Health
- Love and Dating
- Home…and so on.
Time and Task Management
Once you have a better understanding of what you’ve been procrastinating specifically, you can put real solutions that are specific to your unique blocks and lifestyle in place.
- Create a schedule with tasks and timeframes and schedule your least preferred tasks FIRST.
- Technology is an incredible tool to help with task management. YES. Even if it’s been a source of procrastination for you before, you can always flip the script! There are apps that you can set up on your phone or mobile device to help you limit the distractions of social media, email, and text notifications. I’ve included links to some of the best apps to help you stop procrastinating (with the least amount of pain!) in the cheat sheet for you, so grab that right here.
- Use a timer to chunk out undesirable tasks that require focus into shorter time periods. I find this effectively cuts down on overwhelm, especially when you’re working on a big project. Think about it: it might feel nearly impossible to clean your entire house, but what if you set a timer for just 15 minutes and committed to clearing up clutter in just ONE room for that time? Much more doable.
Identify The Gains and the Rewards
It can feel AMAZING to complete the tasks you’ve been avoiding…so when you feel resistance and procrastination creeping in, try to focus on and visualize how you’re going to FEEL when it’s DONE. A little treat or reward for staying on task is always a good incentive too!
Be in it and really harness the power of your intention to actually get on this bandwagon of actually doing something different…I promise you, you can do this, and while it does take some practice, freeing yourself from procrastination has the power to open up your entire WORLD. Remember to be compassionate and patient with yourself. Small, mindful steps daily can lead to massive transformation.
I would love to hear what YOU have to say about procrastination, so if this resonated with you, please leave me a comment here or join the discussion over on our free Facebook group. I hope that this episode spoke to you and added value. If it did, please share it with the people in your life and on your social media platforms.
I deeply appreciate you and your sharing this episode because my goal is to reach as many people on Planet Earth as possible to uplift, to educate, to empower and to lessen suffering…no matter the cause. Thank you for joining me in that goal. I hope you have an amazingly productive week, and as always, take care of you.