Many associate procrastination with a lack of self-discipline. Procrastinating is a symptom, not a problem. Believe it or not, you have a really good reason for procrastinating, but you’re not listening! Usually, we’re too busy criticizing ourselves!
We all carry outdated behaviors that no longer serve us. These old habits may have worked long ago to help us postpone discomfort and feel safe. They might have enabled us in the past to get our needs met indirectly, but if you allow negative thought patterns to control you today, you’ll feel frustrated and disempowered.
When we allow ourselves to get curious instead of beating ourselves up with criticisms, wonderful things happen. The burden is removed, and we breathe a little more freely. When we take the time to explore with compassion what’s fueling procrastination, we discover insightful answers previously hidden.
Take a moment right now and choose a task you’ve been procrastinating or a time of day that you tend to put things off. Follow the four simple steps below. Your answers will give you powerful and practical solutions toward effectiveness.
Steps for Overcoming Procrastination
STEP 1 Create a sense of safety by replacing judgment with curiosity. One of the most important shifts we can make when exploring procrastination is to observe ourselves with acceptance and self-compassion. Judgment and criticism only keep us stuck. Get curious and lose the judgment.
STEP 2 Explore what's in your way. What legitimate need might be competing for your time, attention and energy?” When we are delaying a task or project that we desire to complete, there is often a legitimate need fighting to be fulfilled. Check in and see if you need something. It might be exercise, a drink of water, rest, or to resolve a personal conflict.
STEP 3 Meet your need!
You’ve been working long hours on a very important project. Your body is aching, there’s static in your mind, and your actions are ineffectual and scattered. You find yourself avoiding the last leg of your project. You alternate between surfing the Internet or reading Facebook posts but you can't ignore the harsh self-talk aimed at “guilting” you back to work. Let's look at the possible needs and reasons for procrastination.
Possible Needs Competing with Your Project:
1) Your body is aching for change in the form of movement and exercise, and this need is competing with your mind and your desire to finish.
Stop and exercise. You’ll be far more productive! And you’ll be happier because you’ve made yourself a priority.
You may be saying, “I just don’t have time
to exercise!” There are situations where
this could be true. Take whatever time you have available. Anyone can walk down to the water cooler, or get a new perspective by running up and down a flight of stairs a few times to get the juices flowing. Then
commit to an extended exercise time later—and do it!
2) You’ve been ignoring your spouse and have canceled two lunch dates already for work. Check for a gnawing feeling inside you may keep stuffing.
Stop and connect. Call your spouse and have a short but loving conversation or go for lunch and get refreshed. Productivity is highest when all parts of us are fully on board! Listen and take care of yourself in the middle of stressful times.
STEP 4 Reward and celebrate yourself.
Our brains are pleasure-seekers. The more
you reward concentrated work and celebrate accomplishments—even small ones—with fun and pleasure, the more productive you become! Invoke your “super brain” with this very concept and try it for yourself. It works!
So how to overcome procrastination? You don't overcome anything; you listen to what you need.
Self-care is foundational to all truly sustainable productivity. And sometimes, taking care of yourself means saying "no" more often! When we follow our heart, self-discipline becomes unneeded. Self-discipline is only a cape on a person aligned with what's important to them. Commit to what really matters to you—then you won't procrastinate and you’ll have time for taking care of YOU!
Just in case you're thinking procrastination is a time management problem, think again. Read our blog: "Procrastination Is Not a Time Management Problem."