You may have noticed this newsletter is a little late. Yes I’ve been busy but have I been putting this off?
I’ve been delivering training workshops most days this week and unusually, I’ve delivered several sessions on Time and Energy Management to different organisations. During discussions it became apparent that some people arrived thinking that their problem was “poor time management” when in truth, their bigger problems were either that they couldn’t negotiate time boundaries with their colleagues or they were struggling with procrastination.
Procrastination – leaving until tomorrow that which I know should be done today – involves a voluntary delay that we know is not strictly necessary and will have negative consequences. It’s certainly not the same as re-prioritisation because more important things have arisen.
Do you tend to get sucked-in by procrastination? On a scale of 1 to 10, where would you say you sit?
Many people think procrastination is about time management. It rarely is. Frequently we put things off because of the uncomfortable emotions associated with even the thought of doing certain tasks.
So what feelings evoke procrastination? Many are possible including:
- it feels overwhelming,
- just too vague and I’ve no idea where to start,
- too difficult and I’m shamed to say that (I should know better),
- I’m dreading doing this,
- this is just so tedious,
- why me? or this is so unfair!
Rather than enter the space of that uncomfortable emotion we’ll avoid the task, do it tomorrow and immediately experience that sweet salve of relief as we do something else instead.
When I coach clients on the issues they are procrastinating over, yes, there are specific twists and tweaks that we discuss to supercharge their better behaviour but one of the most surprising insights they learn is that they simply need to decide to do what they want to do. “Feeling like doing it” is mostly irrelevant.
Given that those uncomfortable emotions arise even at the thought of the task, we do need to non-judgementally acknowledge the emotion we’re feeling as it is there and it is real – but it is irrelevant.
It might help to label or name the emotion. It might help to understand the root of the emotion. The power comes in simply deciding, “Even though I’m feeling this, the next step I need to take is…” and that might be to sit at the desk and open the file, to work on this for five minutes…. whatever.
When it comes to procrastination, feeling uncomfortable won’t kill us. Yes, there will be that inner voice, the part of us that wants to run and hide or watch Netflix or eat ice-cream. The better part of us can choose to take the next necessary step.
If you’ve been avoiding any number of simple, short tasks – clearing out an inbox, tidying away letters, moving the accumulated debris littering the hallway – blitz them. Put on some good energy music and make it a game. How quickly can you zap them?! With my coaching clients I’d talk about needing a dose of the Warrioress energy, playful, focussed and out to win.
For longer, more overwhelming tasks you might need a more Queenly energy here – a plan, strategy, matching output with resources. Maybe something deeper looking at the real source. Do I really not know where to start? Do I not understand the scope? If you don’t – who does? Who could you ask?
Do you just need to dump it all out on paper/Post-It notes and have a sort through your options?
If the task is too large to complete “in one sitting”, identifying the chunks, small pieces that you can control and eventually complete while giving yourself permission to do just one step… Remember that the lights from your torch never illuminates your whole journey, it simply shines enough light to get you to the next safe place…. We often don’t need to see the clear route to the end, simply the next best step will do.
If you know that procrastination or avoidance is holding you back, drop me a line, ask me a question… I’d love to help!
Here’s hoping you have a lovely weekend planned – and don’t put it off.