DID I PROCRASTINATE WHEN WRITING THIS?
YOU BET I DID!
So, not that you might have noticed or anything, but I tend to put out a new blog every month. When I started writing blogs last year (September 2021), I promised myself that I would write a new one every month. For me, it was a goal to do this every month as I knew if I didn't set myself this time frame, I would probably never write anything, or take forever to do so. It was a way to boundary and structure myself-in terms of blog writing anyway!
And I must say, that since I made that vow, I have lived up to it. I do manage to put something up here on a monthly basis. This, not only gives me a sense of accomplishment and makes me more focused, but it allows me to also read up, review or discover new things when I search for material to write about. So, it's a win-win situation for me really!
But why did I feel the need to make a solemn vow to myself to do this?
Of course, it was to combat my own procrastination!
It's certainly something I still deal with naturally, but taking smaller steps in different areas in my life seems to have made an overall positive impact.
So, before trying to combat it, we need to understand why we do it in the first place.
WHAT IS PROCRASTINATION?
Procrastination is usually seen as laziness, postponing, delaying or leaving to the last minute, but is actually a very natural thing to do. Googling the word 'procrastination' gives us the definition:
'Procrastination is the act of delaying or putting off tasks until the last minute, or past their deadline. Some researchers define procrastination as a "form of self-regulation failure characterized by the irrational delay of tasks despite potentially negative consequences''.
The interesting part for me here is the idea that we tend to put off tasks despite the negative consequences.
Even as I am physically writing this, I find myself being distracted by tiny things around me. As I notice what I am doing, I quickly sit up, back straight, and resume typing.
In the time I have become more aware of my own procrastination, I tend to ask myself two questions:
What am I avoiding?
And why am I avoiding it?
What are we avoiding? - Something unpleasant, boring or just uninteresting might be the answer to this question.
It's most likely something that does not bring you or is unlikely to bring you any kind of immediate pleasure. They are tasks that we should be doing which can be anything from cleaning the house or doing the dishes, to making plans, socialising or even investing in self-development (exercising or meditation).
Why do we avoid it? - Usually, when we have a certain task in front of us, let's say, oh I don't know, having to write something(!), we may associate a certain kind of discomfort to it. Maybe it takes too long (so it becomes lengthy and boring), it may be too difficult (we may have a fear that we are not smart enough to write it), or it might require MORE not so interesting tasks (having exhaustion or frustration a having to do this).
So what actually ends up happening is that, if you find yourself being unable to tolerate any kind of discomfort ( for example boredom, frustration, fear, exhaustion etc), in a bid to avoid this discomfort, you switch to more pleasant activities (yes, I mean watching videos on youtube!). And by also distracting yourself with another activity, you are also receiving an immediate satisfaction, albeit you end up feeling guilty afterwards. Top this up with an excuse for not doing the initial task in the first place ( There's plenty of time left! ), and you most likely end up procrastinating the next time as you had a positive feeling from doing it this time.
Along with the excuses we make are what is called 'unhelpful conclusions', so when we say that 'There's plenty of time left!', a false conclusion may be that 'I don't need to do it now', and these further thoughts feed the process of procrastination.
BEGIN TO STOP PROCRASTINATING
So one of the first things we can do is to try and re-shape the way we think about these excuses. Instead of saying 'I have plenty of time and so I don't need to start now'. one could say 'I have plenty of time, but I can start a little bit today'. Instead of saying to yourself 'It's such a long and boring thing!', perhaps you can say ' But if I do it now, I can enjoy something that I like without the guilt and in the knowledge that it has been completed!'.
Below are some further practical tips to help you tackle your procrastination:
PRIORITISE - Organise your task into which one needs to be completed immediately to those which require less of your immediate attention.
CHUNKING - Break down that task into smaller more manageable parts instead of facing one big task.
TIME MANAGEMENT - Set a timer when working on these tasks, 20 mins to an hour is usually best. Don't set them for too long though, otherwise, you might feel that sense of boredom kicking in again, and remember to factor in small breaks too!
VISUALISE YOURSELF WITH A REWARD - Set yourself a treat or reward for completing this task.
HAVE AN ACCOMPLISHMENT DIARY - An accomplishment diary, journal or record is something that you can keep to keep track of all that you have accomplished. This can positively reinforce you when faced with another task, as well as remind you that you have several accomplishments to your name!
BASK IN THE POSITIVE FEELING! - And finally, revel in that positive feeling you get when you finally finish a task and try to remember it the next time you have to tackle something!
So, if you feel that you are struggling with your procrastination, contact me on the following details below:
or you can go to the Contact Form
Thanks for reading!
These figures is derived from the ‘Put Off Procrastinating’ InfoPax, see www.cci.health.wa.gov.au