Lately I’ve found myself contemplating procrastination. The reasons are twofold. One – the topic seems to be at the forefront for a lot of my clients right now. And two – I also seem to be in a bit of a procrastination trap right now. You may have noticed that there has been a significant gap since my last blog post. At first, I told myself that I didn’t have anything worthwhile to say and I should wait until I was inspired. Then, I decided that I was so busy with clients that I didn’t possibly have time to spend on blog posts. Now, I’ve realized that it was probably the end result of a good bout of procrastination.
As I chat with clients about their procrastination, the underlying meaning, and strategies to get out of the trap, I’m forced to look at myself in the metaphorical mirror. Perfectionism certainly plays a role in my procrastination, as does a desire to seek out pleasurable tasks over more challenging or boring tasks. Luckily, I’ve found a few strategies that seem to work for me when I am trying to regain my motivation:
- Schedule time. If I have things that need to be done, I will schedule a time of day to complete it. Just like I would never miss an appointment time with a client, I make sure that I don’t miss a scheduled activity for myself. Yes, I make appointments with myself!
- Break activities or tasks into small manageable tasks. I actually like to do this for everything (as all of my clients can likely attest!). It feels so much easier and more successful if you are able to achieve multiple steps.
- Use a lot of positive self-talk. I totally talk to myself when I’m trying to get motivated. Mostly it is internal dialogue (though sometimes I’ve been caught speaking aloud) and encouragement is the name of the game. I have to encourage myself to move forward with tasks, as well as recognizing when I’m making excuses or justifying the avoidance of a task.
- Involve other people. Other people are really good at keeping me accountable. It never feels good to have to admit that I didn’t complete a task for absolutely no good reason at all. Enlisting the help or accompaniment of another person can really help to keep me on track.
- Let it go. This one is deals directly with perfectionism. Rationally, I know that there is no such thing as perfect. And yet…I still catch myself striving for it and I will put off tasks that I believe won’t be done perfectly. Not ideal. Letting go of doing things perfectly and transitioning towards doing something well or to the best of my ability can be a difficult transition, but I’ve found that it really reduces my stress in the long run.
So, obviously I’m back to writing blog posts (well this one at least!), which must mean that my procrastination period is over. Wrong. I’ve been procrastinating in a few areas of my work/personal life (cue my slow Twitter feed and cluttered home) and I’m working on getting everything back on track. I’ve noticed that, while it can be quite easy to sink into procrastination, it’s much tougher to come back out of it. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve used a lot of the above strategies even in writing this post. I scheduled time, used positive self-talk and let go of perfection. And look at that…a post has been written!
Do you ever find yourself procrastinating? Sure you do. Everybody does it! I’m curious though – how do you pull yourself out of it? What are your strategies for getting through procrastination?