Coping with Procrastination
Last week, we looked at all the reasons for procrastinating. Now we discover some strategies for coping with procrastination.
- When there is a task or project you know must get done, first focus on what can be gained by its completion. What are the benefits to you?
- Try a Self-awareness Journal at the end of each day:
- Did I procrastinate today? In what activity did I procrastinate?
- What was it about the work that caused me to procrastinate? What excuses did I make about it? Make a list of them. (Yuen and Burka)
- How long did I procrastinate? What was the impact?
- What was the catalyst that stopped it?
- How did I feel about procrastinating?
- What were my thoughts when I finally completed the task?
- Self-monitor. Notice when the excuses occur. Verbalize the excuses – hearing them has a way of weakening them.
- Affirmations. Use phrases like “Do everything immediately”, “Don’t procrastinate”, “Just do it!”, “Perfection is impossible”, “Just do the best that I can”. Place them where you cannot avoid seeing them (screensaver, poster, etc.)
- Catch yourself. When you catch yourself procrastinating, acknowledge it, and give yourself permission to do so in 15 minutes time, then work on the project till then.
- Commit to small chunks of time. Instead of committing to completing the task, commit to five minutes only. Then decide if you want to do another five minutes, and so on.
- Swiss Cheese Approach. Break the project down into small chunks that can be done in five minutes – instant tasks. Pick the instant tasks off five minutes at a time. Poking holes in that huge chunk of work makes it seems less daunting. (Lakein)
- Project Approach. Break the project down into sections and set mini-deadlines and milestones, leaving extra time at the end to let it sit for rumination time.
- Reward Completions. Do something you LOVE doing now.
- Don’t Expect Miracles. Procrastination is resistance to change. Research has shown that there are three phases to overcoming procrastination:(Yuen and Burka)
- Phase One is optimism. You believe procrastination can be beat quickly, painlessly and forever.
- Phase Two is despair. You get discouraged when lifelong habits don’t change quickly.
- Phase Three is insight. You gain insights about how long and what changes in self-talk are required to change perfectionism and your natural style.
An excellent way to ensure that you get a project completed that you have been putting off for some time is to have An Integrity Day. You connect with 2 to 4 others who have a project to complete as well. You agree on a day and start time that you will work on your project.
What happens: At the top of the meeting hour everyone comes into the video room and each person states what their project for the day is. There is agreement on the time frame (what time will we finish). Then each person says where they will begin and how much they hope to accomplish in the next hour. Encouragements and laughs are exchanged – make it fun! At the top of the next hour everyone checks into the room again and this time reports what they achieved. Others make congratulatory noises. New goals are set for the next hour. This pattern is repeated until the finish hour when everyone celebrates their accomplishments.
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An important way of preventing procrastination is to gain some clarity about what you want to achieve. There are a couple of times in the year (September and January) when it’s useful to take stock and re-define your direction.
Consider creating a mini-retreat for yourself. Find the right place to relax, spread your materials out, listen to some inspiring music and spend the day. Gather materials that work for your own style:
- Visual – lots of magazines with pictures, coloured pencils & pens, poster.
- Auditory – inspirational tapes, music, a tape recorder for recording your thoughts.
- Kinaesthetic – a journal to write in, music to move to.
Begin by making a list of the gifts you bring to the world. List at least seven. Then give them a title and find an object that represents each gift. Play with this – make a poster, write a story, create a desk arrangement – have fun. The fun part is what helps us overcome procrastination in the future.
Now you are ready to review your values and contemplate what you want to achieve and how you want to show up in the coming year. This is what I call spending quality time with myself.
Mindset Monday Challenge
- Recall a project that you just dove into and completed with enthusiasm.
- What kind of project was it? What was it about this project that made you enthusiastic?
- Describe the environments (physical, relationships, ideas/information, intangibles, self, network, nature) that this project occurred in.
- How could you apply these insights to future projects?
This Mindset Monday post is presented by LowellAnn Fuglsang, Business and Career Coach, especially for solopreneurs.
In my workstyle-lifestyle coaching work I love helping solopreneurs find direction, stay motivated and build systems that both support and promote their business. One support that I like to emphasize for them is the Google experience. Two great places to begin are my Weekly Being Your Own CEO Success Circle and The Portable Business Coach (a tool that will tell you where you need to put more time and energy)