Procrastination isn’t necessarily laziness!
Life is relentless, it always has been, right down through the ages. Life happens second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour…you get the picture! We plan for the future, reminisce about the past, but we, kind of, tolerate the present? We’ve all heard (and said!) the words “I can’t wait for….”, wishing our lives away wanting that event in the future to come as quickly as possible. But if you’re reading this, think about now. Where are you? What are you doing? More importantly maybe, what did you plan to do when you sat down and are you doing it? Hopefully you’re reading this because you were interested in what I have to say, but maybe, just maybe, reading this is a little bit of procrastination creeping in?
Be honest with yourself, are you putting something off? One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given is ‘Do the worst first’, at least that way the one thing you’re dreading the most is over and done with so it’s not hanging over you like a cloud all day, and maybe even into tomorrow. I try to follow this philosophy but it’s hard to be disciplined enough to do it, especially if the worst thing you have to do is going to take a lot of time, easier to do the quick things first.
A lot of people advise making a list but I’m not the only person I know who forgets to look at the list, or even remember there is a list in the first place! Reminders on my phone don’t work too well either, I always seem to be driving or not in a position where I can act on the reminder whenever it pops up. Anyway, it’s probably something I don’t want to do so the excuse of not being able to act on the reminder probably suits me very well.
A strategy we’re all fond of…..
So why do we put things off? I’m pretty sure that there are a myriad of reasons, top of the list is probably the fact that our ‘worst first’ is something not very pleasant or slightly confrontational. Then there’s the stuff that’s just plain boring, and the stuff that is going to take hours to accomplish, and the stuff that we’re not really sure about how to tackle anyway. Add to that the stuff where the outcome is very important and we’re not sure how it’s going to go and we have a nice big pot of excuses to use to avoid the inevitable!
Or maybe….do it now!
How do I tackle procrastination? Mostly I don’t! I’m one of the worst I know for putting things off but one strategy that has helped me recently is sitting down with a coffee and focusing on that one big thing I don’t want to do and working out what the real reason is for me avoiding it. I might think that its lack of time but when I’m really honest with myself I realise it’s actually that I’m finding the task daunting and I’m not too sure how to go about it. Or, I’m afraid of the outcome but realise that any outcome is better than none because, at least with an answer, I can start to work out what to do next.
This might just work for you too?
Which leads me on to a nice contradiction of myself, I have actually started to have a list, the difference is that next to each thing on the list I’ve written the reason I don’t want to do it (if there is one). The advantage of this is that as I come to do things I already know what’s stopping me, so rather than looking at the task I can focus on what’s stopping me and start by working on that! It’s time-consuming, OK, when WILL I have the time and diarise it. I’m scared of the outcome, what’s the worst that can happen and prepare myself for that. It’s boring, OK, how important is it anyway? Tax Return? I HAVE to do it, however boring it is so let’s get it out of the way!
You get the picture? So far it’s working out pretty well for me, I got up this morning and knocked 4 things off my list straight away that I’ve been putting off for far too long, knowing why I was putting them off helped me to understand that the reason for putting it off wasn’t valid.
I’m so sick of this!
There isn’t one single strategy for tackling procrastination, not every solution works for everyone so if you want to stop putting things off you have to find out what works for you. All I would say is, if you’re a reluctant procrastinator, don’t procrastinate about finding a plan that works for you personally!
I’ll be here again at some point in the future when I get round to writing another blog!
My TED talk is here:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xts1F-PoUNA