Let’s procrastinate! Or maybe not…

In which I procrastinate for too long instead of writing this blog post…

I have a confession: I spent today procrastinating instead of writing this blog post.

So, I thought rather than struggle to churn something out for you, I’d ‘fess up.

Today, it’s cold and grey and wet and the words won’t flow and my brain is in hibernation mode and all the excuses and… it just didn’t happen – and I have no one to blame except myself.

I’m know I’m not alone in leaving something until five past the last minute… even when it’s something I usually enjoy.

But why do we do this to ourselves and what can we do about it?

Why procrastinate?

Why do we do this to ourselves?! We know it doesn’t actually help, but still here we are cleaning the skirting boards and redoing our website images, instead of getting on with the thing that needs doing.

I find there’s two main reasons why I procrastinate:

  1. The thing feels too important
  2. The thing feels too routine

And sometimes both of these apply!

Please note this is about how something FEELS, not how it IS.

Important things can feel very weighty and heavy. These things are not to be rushed – they’re too important and worthwhile for that. In fact, they’re a bit too big and scary to rush into. They really need us at our best, not at our everyday. And we should totally clean the house first to make sure we can give them ALL our attention later, when we’re better. Oh dear, now our brain is tired and we’ve run out of time. How did that happen?!

Routine things can start to feel stale and boring. It’s much more fun to do something else. And we’ve done them so many times before, it won’t take that long to do them. There’s no way we need the two hours it takes to do them every week. Half an hour should be plenty. Oh dear, now our brain is tired and we’ve run out of time. How did that happen?!

Hmmm…

What can we do about it?

The first step is to NOTICE what you’re doing (or not doing).

Then take a moment to investigate the situation. Why are you avoiding the thing? That’s what procrastination actually is: avoidance.

Once you know your why, you can start to figure how to work round yourself.

There’s lots of different ways to do that. Some of my go-tos are:

  • Chunking – break the thing down into smaller tasks that are less scary. Then actually do the smaller tasks.
  • Talk it through with a friend – see if a fresh perspective can help you face the thing.
  • Journal – start writing and see what shakes loose.
  • Make a list  – jot down all the things you want to do instead of the thing you need to do. Get them out of your head and onto paper for future reference (not to do right now!)
  • Make yourself start the thing – tell yourself you’ll do five minutes, then see how it’s going. Getting started is the key to getting finished – and it’s okay to do it this in chunks (see above).

Look! It’s done!

Make sure you take a moment to pat yourself on the back and appreciate yourself when you do get through the thing. You did good! You DID it – that’s good!!

And here we are at the end of this blog post 😀

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Resources

This highly relevant article by Tim Urban of Wait but Why: Why Procrastinators Procrastinate is the first of his fantastic three part series about procrastination (which I first read a few years ago when I was meant to be doing something else…)

If you’re prefer video, here’s Tim’s Ted talk: Inside the mind of a master procrastinator

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