I don’t think there would be anyone out there who at some time or other has put off doing something they know they really need to do by procrastinating – but did you know there are actually two types of procrastination?
1. Productive procrastination – which is an important part of the creative process.
2. Destructive procrastination – which is when you avoid tasks you need to complete.
Productive procrastination can be when you are waiting for creative ideas and they may not come to you straight away, so you need to spend time in the right head space for those thoughts and ideas to come through. The creative process is not something that can be rushed!
Destructive procrastination however, is when we avoid the things we NEED to get done and know that as a result there will be some sort of negative consequence. But what we need to understand is that for a lot of people, that sort of procrastination is not due to laziness; the inability to take action is due to feeling paralysed by anxiety. It is actually therefore a coping mechanism for stress. Some people feel unable to have control over this habit.
However. the stress is not caused by the thing you are putting off i.e. cleaning out the spare room or finishing the assignment, it is just a symptom of the BIGGER ISSUE that is causing you anxiety – e.g. money worries, relationship problems or just your life in general. So, it is easier to go and watch cat videos on YouTube or troll through Facebook because that gives you some instant sense of relief. The catch 22 of course is that after that, you start beating yourself up over what you SHOULD have been doing!
So, what steps can you take to smash this debilitating behaviour once and for all?
1. THE MOST IMPORTANT TO START WITH – FORGIVE YOURSELF – beating yourself up over it is pointless and just makes you feel worse!
2. PUT YOURSELF IN THE FUTURE – picture the sense of satisfaction you will feel when the task you have been putting off is completed.
3. DO THE THING YOU WANT TO DO THE LEAST FIRST – this is a game changer and has really worked for me. Once that is out of the way you clear your day for the things that do bring you pleasure!
4. BREAK THINGS DOWN into bite sized pieces and schedule them into your day and COMMIT to it. Doing something you have been putting off in say 15 minute increments instead of a 2 hour block can be lot easier to digest as long as you SCHEDULE it and COMMIT to it!
5. DON’T SET YOURSELF TASKS you know you are never going to achieve – what’s the point? Just another thing to beat yourself up over.
6. SIMPLIFY – clear the drainers. As Shannah Kennedy in her book “Life Plan” calls them. These drainers aren’t limited to physical “stuff” but also mental clutter. “Drainers are like tiny sandbags that are stacked at the back of your neck. Each sandbag on its own may be small and insignificant, but when they’re combined they weigh you down and make you feel tired, lethargic, stressed and chaotic. Your personal environment, finances, relationships and wellbeing are the key areas where you need to simply and eliminate drainers”. Simplicity brings clarity!
7. TREAT YOURSELF – once you have ticked that thing off your list do something that you really want to do!
Suzie de Jonge is a Transformational Coach/Mentor and the founder of Beautifully Selfish. She supports women who are ready to rebuild their lives, their careers and sense of self. She also loves to share her wisdom as an inspirational speaker and blogger. In her downtime she enjoys hanging out with her two furry daughters, puppies Daisy and Maggie and her two-legged daughter, Alex, as well as reading, meditating, laughing and making each day count! Visit her at www.beautifullyselfish.com