Procrastination is as natural to human beings as eating. It’s easy to do things we want to do, but the things we find difficult or unpleasant are what we put off And sometimes delaying a little bit here and there is not a big deal. But if procrastination is habitual for you, and is causing things to happen in your life that you don’t want to happen, it’s time for a new sheriff in town.
Simply, procrastination is just a habit of making the wrong choices. It’s choosing to take a nap instead of mowing the lawn It’s deciding to watch “Friends” instead of working out. It’s opting to socialize with a co-worker instead of working on a project. It’s cleaning off your desk instead of getting prepared for a meeting. It’s “I’ll do it later”.
Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these choices. As an adult you have the luxury of choosing how you behave, and choosing your own responsibilities. And we all have responsibilities that we don’t particularly care for. But if you allow Procrastination to make choices that aren’t good for you, or that you don’t really want to make, then it’s time to put your Procrastination Buddy on a leash.
“Just Do It” may be a great marketing slogan, but in real life we often need a little bit more to work with. To conquer Procrastination, you will need to change the behavior that works against you achieving the desired results. Remember that you are changing a habit, and it will feel uncomfortable and unnatural at first. But with practice, you can teach Procrastination that it is not welcome in your life. Here are three ways to do this.
1. When you recognize a particular task is difficult for you and that you continually put it off until the last minute, try designing a system to handle it, instead of just “putting out the fire” when it becomes a problem. For example, if you’re always putting off or talking yourself out of your gym time, consider setting up a buddy system, so that you know you’re going to meet someone. Or make a date with someone to come over to your house to work out with you – a trainer, or a friend. By doing this, you have set up a system that will pull you forward when you’re willpower is low.
2. Determine if Procrastination is signaling you that you have made a mistake in your choice. If you find it difficult to go to work in the morning, perhaps you are in the wrong job. If you find that you don’t want to go home in the evening after work, it may be that you are living in a place that is not healthy for you. Don’t continue a mistake. Admit the mistake to yourself first and others (if necessary), and make the necessary arrangements to make it right. One of my clients was a senior in college receiving a degree in Electrical Engineering. He was having difficulty finishing projects, doing homework, studying for tests. His parents believed that he was afraid to go out into the “real world”. But as we talked, it became apparent that he had never wanted to be an engineer and had allowed others to make those choices for him. He was spending all his time working in a restaurant where they were teaching him how to cook. As soon as he recognized that he had made a mistake, he was able to tell his parents how he really felt, and make the change to get the training to be a chef.
3. We all have things we’re good at and things we prefer to do, and Procrastination can also signal that it is task that you really don’t like to do. Ask first, does it have to be done at all, and second, does it have to be done by you. Consider delegating the task to someone who would enjoy it, so that you can concentrate on things that you would devote more creativity and energy to. Personally, I struggle with keeping exercise in my life. So instead of learning things I didn’t find interesting, I hired a trainer who shows me what to do and helps me move forward consistently. I delegated that job to him, and now, I don’t have to think about it anymore.
Finally, REWARD yourself for a job well done. This is very important and a step that a lot of people ignore. A reward can come in any form you choose, from a simple affirmation to yourself, to buying yourself a treat. Realize that the ultimate reward for taming Procrastination is that by being in control of what you do, and finding ways to do it efficiently, you have given yourself more time to enjoy your life.
Kathy Gates, Professional Life Coach, works with people who are unorganized, underappreciated, and lacking direction or focus on their goals. She can be reached at 480.998.5842.