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Understanding Why We (I) Procrastinate



Relaxing was a primary topic we covered in last week’s blog as we kicked off the 3rd quarter. This week I want to switch gears and talk about a topic that can impact our ability to Reset. As I shared last week, resetting requires some examination and to examine, we have to identify what to examine and actually do it!


Getting started is a challenge that some of us face. Procrastinating (delaying or postponing) can take over to the point of never getting started. Today, I want to explore understanding procrastination.


“I am Jenn, and I am a procrastinator.” Procrastination is almost as debilitating as an addiction and it’s typically something we want to remain anonymous. If we admit we are a procrastinator, will someone trust we will get work assignments done or be someone that is trusted to deliver what we commit to in a contract?


I was the college student that would stay up all night to complete a paper, the manager that always worked late, and occasionally the blog writer that writes the blog post on the day it’s to be published. I find myself procrastinating even on tasks that are important to me and which will grow my business.


Working to understand why will support me in completing the things I desire to during the second half of the year. I hope as I share what I’ve been examining and learning, you’ll find it beneficial if you also suffer from procrastination.


Examining My Procrastination

Examining the many reasons why I procrastinate has resulted in a range from not knowing where to start, perfectionism, depression and fear. I’m also a self-diagnosed sufferer of attention deficit and can be very easily distracted.


I’ve learned that a project that is too big will prevent me from seeing the starting point. Friends that are excellent at project management can recount tales of projects that take years to complete. That level of planning and detail is really hard for me to fathom.


Perfectionism is another cause of my procrastination – I will tweak and fight to get something perfect, when in reality no one else would recognize that it wasn’t perfect. I want everything to be perfect the first time, first draft.


When things haven’t gone the way I planned, fueled by my desire for perfectionism; I will have periods of depression, sadness or disappointment that can create procrastination in beginning again.


I struggle with fear around judgement of my work and I’m fearful that my creditability or value will be questioned. What if I don’t deliver enough or fail to deliver what someone expects?


My mind needs order to be able to get down to business. I’m a self-diagnosed sufferer of attention deficit and as a result, I’m still creating and leveraging a lot of coping mechanisms to be successful in work and life.


Finding My Solutions

All of these confessions make it sound like I don’t get anything done and can’t be relied on. Although some days it might feel that way because I’ve started a dozen tasks (and didn't finish them), however, if I can get in my zone, I can really rock it. Here are a few solutions I use and some I’m still working on.


Creating Focus

To combat my attention deficit, I need to create order in my mind and many times that involves creating order in my surroundings. Some of my organizing which might be also viewed as procrastination activities include organizing files and cleaning counters. A clear space will help me give order to all the ideas running in my mind.


For the order and clarity to happen, I must also turn off any distracting devices or at least remove them from my view – the phone and television can become my biggest nemesis of getting started.


At workshops, I regularly have participants do a “brain dump” activity to get what’s swimming around in their mental to-do list on paper so that they can focus on the discussion. The act of writing it down quiets the mind enough to allow the person to be present in the moment.


I’m a big proponent of doing the same for myself. I set a timer for 3 minutes and just dump everything. If you try this exercise, don’t judge what you’re thinking, don’t edit, just dump. Once it’s down on paper, you won’t forget it and it will allow you to see where priorities lay.


Time Blocking & Timers

I have learned that on occasion a sense of urgency around a looming deadline provides clarity, however that can’t be relied on, especially if the project or task has many parts that require large chunks of time.


Over the years I have learned that by having a deadline in the calendar and being accountable to show up and deliver will help me see that I need to start planning. If it’s important, it needs to be in my calendar or on a task list with a reminder attached. This is not 100% going to eliminate procrastination but goes a long way to help me keep commitments and meet deadlines.


If I have limited time and need to jar my creative muscle into action, I will many times put on a timer to apply just enough pressure to keep working and resist distractions. Almost everyone can stay focused in 20–30-minute intervals and if you are racing the clock you might just make some progress.


A little progress each day adds up to big results. ~ Diana Martin

Chunking Down & Prioritizing

When a project is big, I will write a list of all the activities that need to be completed and then prioritize the order in which they need to be completed. Sometimes this can be done in a “brain dump” fashion I described above, but most often it takes time to more consciously think about everything that needs to be done to meet the project deliverables.


Being OK with Good Enough

Being OK with Good Enough is a work in progress for me. It’s true that we are our own worst critic. What we think of our own work is not judged as harshly by others nor do we have to be perfect for our work to be acknowledged as sufficient and effective.


I’m going to keep working on accepting myself, my work and my effort to help ease the desire to procrastinate because of the fears I have, my need for perfectionism and any depression that results from my mistakes or failures.


Life is too short to waste. Sometimes bravery is simply choosing to take the next step without fully knowing the path. ~ Glennon Doyle

A great tool I’d like to share with you that I’ve used and as you work to overcome procrastination is this 20-Question Worksheet from ISEI®. Use it to help answer the questions of why you procrastinate and how different your outcomes might be if you can overcome it.


20 Question Wkst for Overcoming Procrastination
.pdf
Download PDF • 194KB

Let us know how you’re doing with overcoming procrastination by becoming a site member and commenting below.


Part of my “Resetting” process is revisiting things I’ve read or written. Here’s a few other related blogs you might find beneficial:


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