12 May Why procrastination isn’t always a bad thing
I have a confession to make - I am a terrible procrastinator. Over the years I've tried forcing myself to do things, fighting against my instincts and giving myself severe talkings to. I’ve tried doing something else for a bit (distraction therapy) and then returning to important tasks, only to stare blankly at the screen, feeling grim. However, eventually the frustration became too great and I decided that enough was enough!
I decided to unpack my procrastination; exploring my resistance to certain tasks and attempting to figure out why I was procrastinating and if it was possible to beat it. I know that procrastination was often a fear response (fear is so sneaky, it almost never shows up as simply as just 'feeling scared'), but was that all there was to it?
I discovered that my procrastination tends to stem from three things: uncertainty – (the most fear-based of the three) when I’m not sure exactly what is expected of me, or I’m not certain of the outcome; boredom – when I find a task deathly dull or routine; and incubation – the most interesting of the three, this is when I don’t do something because I’m not ready, the idea isn’t fully formed or I’m subconsciously figuring out how I want it to turn out.
I've come up with a few tricks in order to circumvent the procrastination monster:
Ask questions; if the task is for someone else, double check exactly what they are expecting (remember: the only stupid questions are the ones you don’t ask); do your research. If uncertainty of the outcome is your problem, the only way to be certain is to do the task – you can always make changes later. If this is your biggest cause of procrastination, you might be interested in looking at my ecourse Make Your Mark to learn all sorts of nifty ways to deal with your fears and uncertainties.
The most difficult one for me! Ask yourself why you are doing this task – could it be that it’s no longer relevant? If so, put it to one side and forget about it. If it really does need to be done, the timer is your best friend. Commit to doing 5 minutes, set the timer and away you go. More often than not, you’ll find yourself absorbed by the time the timer goes off and you’ll be able to keep going. If you’re still struggling, go and do something else for an hour, then come back and commit to another five minutes. Eventually, what ever it is will get done!
Just relax – set aside a few minutes at the beginning or end of each day to jot down a few notes or developments, then let your subconscious do its thing. As long as you keep checking in and keeping track, you should find that the idea comes to fruition in its own sweet time. If not, could it be that you’re uncertain, or perhaps bored with the idea? Rinse and repeat as necessary…
So, there you go – I genuinely don’t think procrastination is always a bad thing; it’s just a necessary device to make sure you’re really doing the right things. Being aware of the reasons why you’re doing it is half the battle.