This post is inspired by the launch of my new monthly programme, The Clarity Hour…Defining Work-Life Balance. At the first event, almost 80% of the attendees had sited procrastination as their biggest challenge when it comes to work-life balance. Further findings uncovered the various situations that made procrastination stand out more and I thought it might be useful to share my philosophy on procrastination as there may be some gems here that you may not be aware of.
Quite frankly, procrastination sucks the life out of life. Procrastination tends to be based in fear. Fear of the unknown or fear because of past trauma.
Whatever it is that you’re procrastinating about, you need to first work on changing your mindset towards the tasks/events. For example, focus on the outcome rather than the activity. Say you need to do housework, you may not want to do it, you put it off, you feel terrible. Instead of focussing on all the things you have to get done, focus on how you feel once the housework is complete. Focus on how accomplished you will feel. Focus on how lovely your environment will feel. When you focus on the outcome, you shift the reasons for getting the task done from negative to positive.
If it was a work-related procrastination, the same rules apply. Focus on the outcome. Decide what outcome you want and then work backwards with a plan about how you can achieve it. If the outcome makes you happy, you’re more likely to do the task. If the outcome doesn’t make you happy, try to see what you can do to affect that or decide how you will feel if it doesn’t go to plan. When procrastination occurs in a task that includes others, you must always plan for the various outcomes – you can only control yourself – therefore, you need to know how you feel based on each possible outcome. Careful informed planning ensures that you can practice getting out of procrastination when something is uncomfortable.
Another very common time procrastination can take over is when you are exhausted. You know you have lots to do but every time you start something, you end up distracting yourself. If this goes on for a few hours, it’s because you are exhausted and you need a break from doing. So stop right there and take that break. It may mean that you don’t get your work done on time, it may mean that there are dishes in the sink for the day – it’s ok, the sky will not fall in, you will not be sent to laundry jail and your boss will not fire you. It’s imperative that you stop and listen to your body however that may appear. We all tend to be in a doing state most of the time, we must take stock and take the breaks when we need to.
A note on procrastination with home tasks. Sometimes, feelings of being unappreciated by others in your home will lead you to procrastinate about your home tasks. That’s perfectly understandable. To move from this, remove the other person/people from the task and just focus it back to you. For instance if it’s a lazy partner who doesn’t contribute enough to the housework and you do everything from school run to making dinner and come your day off you’d like to rest but they won’t allow it because they don’t support you enough, you must delete them from the equation in the first instance. Think only about the importance of completing the task for you. How you will feel, how you will be able to rest afterwards, how you will be able to enjoy the environment. You can then more rationally think about your partner and whether the relationship works for you. Also, DELEGATE! I cannot stress this enough. In our ever increasing busy lives, we must delegate tasks. If you can afford to spend £20 on a weekly cleaner, DO IT! If it buys you some rest and sanity, do it.
Procrastination is essentially a sign that you’re not happy with something. And most of the time, it’s not related to the task you’re procrastinating about. It’s either something from a past trauma that keeps manifesting in different guises as an adult because you haven’t yet addressed it or something that right now, does not make you happy. Dig deep and ask yourself how you really feel and why you feel like you procrastinate. You may be surprised with the answers and may need to address those core challenges instead. This can be a tough task but so worth it in the end to help you stop procrastinating and start living.
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