A common problem is knowing what you need to do, but then just not seeming to get around to it. Or, more usually, doing it, but waiting until the last possible moment. Its that age-old problem, and there is a whole ass-ton of advice on the web telling you how to overcome it.
Thing is, most of these magic pills don’t work, for two reasons – they are either scam-like junk, some nifty little trinket that’s designed to sell you on the easy route that ultimately leads nowhere, or they fail because they aren’t based in the knowledge that people procrastinate for good reasons. If it wasn’t self-maximizing in some way, people wouldn’t do it.
Its one big resistance – and remember, “what you resist, persists”.
Thus, the key to beating it is to look at the outlook that is making it “best for you” to procrastinate, and accept it. By accepting it, you release its power.
But, which outlook do you have that is making you procrastinate, and how do you go about accepting it? Let’s have a look.
People procrastinate for one of three reasons:
Lies – A lot of times, you just don’t want to do it. You’re telling yourself you want to do it when you really don’t. Thus, you wait until the consequences of not doing it make it a have to instead of an option.
Boredom – This is most common when people perpetually put things off until the last minute. In reality, the task is too easy, and you’re using cramming and a means to make the task harder, and more entertaining.
Fear – When someone just never, ever gets around to it, or drags each step out like George W. Bush snorting a line of coke, fear is always the problem. Most often, it’s a fear of what will happen when the task is complete, not the task itself. Of course, sometimes, it’s fear of the task itself.
Now, you can have different combinations and mixtures of these three reasons, but that pretty much covers it. If you’re procrastinating, these are the culprits. We will look at each in turn and cover how to deal with it.
The key to detecting this little snarker is that often, the person will deny that they are procrastinating. They’ll blame traffic for making them late, or complain that the task was too hard with too much work in too little time, or sometimes even, they will blame themselves, saying they’re just not cut out for the task.
The key is to simply accept that you don’t want to do whatever it is. Face up to it. Say it out loud. Tell your friends and family. Just releasing it sometimes actually clears it out.
The lies are just wasting energy and not in your best interests. You could be doing something else.
If you have to do this to get to some other step that you truly do want, then it becomes a discipline issue, and that’s much easier to do. Often, its just a sign that you needed to remind yourself of what you were in this for.
If you’re procrastination is a put-off because you don’t want to be an Accountant, or a Plumber, or whatever – admit it, and take one small step in a better direction, any better direction.
Now the procrastination will shift, and you can see it for what it really is – resisting what you don’t want.
You’ll catch this one in action because you will simply wait with things. Usually, you’ll do the task well, at least up to standard, but you’ll wait to the last minute. And, you’ll do this regularly, almost pathologically.
Admit it. You’re bored. You don’t mind doing it, but its just too easy.
You’re using the time crunch to make things harder. You want a challenge.
But here’s the thing, why challenge yourself with time, which in the end no one notices but you?
Instead, why don’t you do more than what is required, and reap the rewards that come from outperforming others?
For example, if you have to write a report, challenge yourself to write an additional, related analysis.
This procrastination is not using your energies to your full benefit, and is not optimal for you. Be proactive. Go the extra mile and get the extra benefits.
Stop resisting that things are easy, and make them more difficult, which is what you really need.
You see this one because the person actively just avoids doing the task. They don’t do it until something external forces them too, they purposely fail at the task, or they have a conscious anxiety when doing the task. They’d rather just die first.
Generally speaking, this can be overcome by repeated exposure – but if it persists, it is because the person is afraid of what would happen if they succeeded.
Both can be solved by the Clowning Technique, that is, intentional failure.
If you’re afraid of the task itself, or the end result – you’re just going to have to do it. But why not take the edge off?
First, you have to figure out what you’re afraid of – its never the thing itself, its always the end result. Is it rejection? Humiliation? Pain? What? Sit down until you know exactly what it is that you’re worried about.
Now, you have to face it – but what if you had no fear of this result? You would no longer procrastinate.
Its what clowns are for, they are kinda scarey, but like the Harlequins or Heyokah’s of old, they’re trying to mock us to show us our illusions.
Clowns always fail to show us about ourselves.
But, to make it easier, take it out of context, fail on purpose. If you procrastinate social interactions because you’re afraid of rejection, then go out and get rejected, one hundred times, on purpose. Don’t stop until you get all 100. If you procrastinate going to the dentist because you don’t like the tools, then get yourself some magazine pictures and give yourself permission to scream and freak out, in a purposefully over the top fashion, each time you look at them. Walk up to people with nice smiles and ask them if it hurt to get the work done. When they tell you their story, be dramatic about the bad parts. I mean, like REALLY DRAMATIC.
Fear always fades when it is exaggerated.
It works the same way if you’re afraid of actually succeeding….
If you procrastinate asking for a promotion because you think you might mess something up and get fired, then mess something up now and see what happens. No matter what does happen, I guarantee, in the end, you’ll see it wasn’t nearly as bad as what you thought. I’ve been fired, it happens, you recover – its no big deal. Mess up everywhere you can – stumble in front of people and say “Holy crap I failed walking! There is no hope for me!”. Or, if you procrastinate starting a business because you’re afraid you might not know what to do with all the money, then get yourself some money and walk into a store, approach the clerk and say “Excuse me, I know this is stupid, but I don’t know what to do with all this money, can you please help me, I’m so desperate, please, just help me…I need help”.
When you hit the point that the thing you’re avoiding starts to make you laugh, you’ve solved the problem. Be creative with this – the point is that in the end, you’ll realize its just not so bad.
These big red shoes were made for walking, you know.
That’s all folks. And remember. An improved you is a better world.