GET OFF OF SOMEDAY ISLAND AND END PROCRASTINATION
I once heard Brian Tracy say that all of our long term unhappiness and regrets live on “Someday Island”. On Someday Island are all the things we truly want to do, and all ways of becoming the person genuinely we want to be. We just never get there. We haven’t planned the trip. Perhaps unconsciously we think that many things in life will just magically happen … some day. We put off things that are very important to us, the things that we want. We’ve all done it, we all do it, and we’ve all experienced that ugly, heavy weight of … procrastination.
Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished. It is habitually or intentionally delaying the start or finishing of a task despite its negative consequences.
When we procrastinate, we act against our better judgment. Many times we lie to ourselves, (because it’s convenient and it’s what we want to hear) that we have plenty of time. We tend to value immediate rewards more highly than future rewards. We put off what we don’t want to do in the moment and opt for something more fun. Because procrastination is easy to do and is the default behavior for most of us, a bit of awareness around procrastination can be insightful.
10 DRASTIC EFFECTS OF PROCRASTINATION:
1. LOW SELF-ESTEEM / INADEQUACY - Your self esteem is the “reputation you have with yourself.” You always feel better about yourself when you do your very best and when you do what you say you’ll do. Your confidence will definitely not be at it’s peak when you are avoiding and putting off what needs to be done.
2. SELF DECEPTION - Procrastinators typically argue that they perform better under pressure, but research shows that is not the case. More often than not it’s a way to justify putting things off.
3. RELATIONAL STRESS – When we don’t fulfill our word to others, either by missing a deadline or by doing sub-par work, it creates a strain on our relationships. When we procrastinate, it appears that we are not doing what we said we would. People lose trust in us and our relationships can be damaged through our procrastination.
4. GI DISTURBANCES AND LOWER IMMUNE SYSTEM – Our stress lives in our gut. Procrastination leads to a stressed out gut and lowers our immune system. Why go through the havoc of diarrhea, constipation, added cortisol and other inflammatory hormones in the body because we love to avoid and will do it “later”?
5. INSOMNIA – Yep, it’s hard to sleep when you have a pressing deadline and a nagging voice in your head. Not to mention when you do finally fall into a restless sleep you’ll probably be dreaming about what you need to be doing.
6. DEPRESSION – Procrastination and depression often feed off of each other. You feel down, don’t have the energy, can’t be bothered to do anything, and would rather avoid it. Procrastination can make you feel more depressed, and being depressed can make you want to procrastinate further. Taking action helps to break the downward cycle.
7. GUILT AND SHAME – When we procrastinate, we often feel guilt and shame because we are not doing what we intended to do. We can’t even enjoy the activities we are procrastinating with, because deep down we know we are making a weaker choice of avoidance.
8. DREAD – We stop loving life and we take any potential joy out of the task at hand. We experience only a heavy trepidation for what we must do.
9. PANIC – The closer it gets toward your deadline, the more the panic monster comes out to torture you!
10. IT’S PAINFUL! - Being in the middle of procrastination is often more painful than doing the actual task. The negative feelings and anxiety that you experience while procrastinating are usually worse than the effort and energy you need for the task at hand. The problem is not doing the work; it's starting the work.
WHY DO WE PROCRASTINATE?
There is a vagueness of what is really involved. We actually don’t know what we have to do, what the steps are, and why we are doing it.
We see a mountain. Most of the time we blow the task out of proportion, making it much bigger than it actually is. Perceiving that the mountain must also be “perfect” is deadly.
Lack of purpose. We don’t see the deeper reason behind what we are putting off.
We just plain don’t want to do it. We rebel and take in-action instead of figuring out a different way.
We are “Yes” people. We tend to say yes to everything and don’t put any limits when others request things from us. Later we realize we never wanted to do it and are stuck doing something because we “have to.”
We want easy and fun - NOW!!! We prefer the short term game with immediate rewards. We want the immediate kickback for our time right now.
We lie to ourselves. We either say we have tons of time (when we know we really don’t), or we say we work better under pressure.
We are stressed or tired. When you are overwhelmed with life or have immediate fires to put out, it is easy to let things fall to the wayside.
We think we will fail. When we don’t expect to be successful, the more likely we are to procrastinate.
12 TIPS FOR TRANSFORMING A PROCRASTINATION LIFESTYLE:
1. Know exactly what you need to do. Brainstorm and list out the specific things you need to do. This will help the task seem easier as you see small actions steps to take.
2. Order your steps. Breaking down your mountain or mile into steps and putting them in order increases your expectancy of success. You can do well with one small step.
3. Your WHY. Find the bigger reason behind it. How will doing this activity get you towards your bigger goals or help you to become the person you want to become?
4. Focus on doing only 10 minutes. You will see that 10 minutes is not such a bad thing. There is a quick end point in time and you will be making progress. Momentum often effortlessly takes hold of you. You may end up spending more than ten minutes or you will be pleased with some progress and look forward to the next ten minutes tomorrow.
5. One small step. If you prefer a specific action verse time (the 10 minutes), do one small step. Keep moving forward. Small actions of progress help to maintain momentum, which means you’re more likely to finish larger tasks. The sooner you are productive, the more quickly your day develops an attitude of purpose and effectiveness.
6. Set the bar low. Lower any high, unrealistic expectations of yourself. Focus on taking action verses perfection.
7. Reward yourself for completing a task. Since we seem to respond well to the quick payout, make the benefits of choosing the long-term more immediate by rewarding yourself. You can also bundle your task with a reward. Such as listening to your favourite playlist while tackling a mound of paperwork.
8. DON’T do it, and still get it done. Delegate or pay someone to do the tasks you don’t want to do or know you never actually will.
9. Be distraction free. Make sure that your environment is free from distractions. It’s amazing how interesting everything else can suddenly be when you want to avoid doing something. Put your phone on silent and get off of Facebook. Concentrate on finishing one small step or doing ten minutes of your task.
10. Focus on future consequences and rewards. Ask yourself, what will happen if you don’t get this done? What are the pains of procrastination? (See the list above). What are the rewards of getting it done?
11. “EAT THAT FROG!” This is an excellent book about procrastination written by Brian Tracy. The premise is to discipline yourself to get the hardest, most undesirable task (eating a frog) out of the way early. Make it the first thing you do each day. When you get into this habit, you will by used to tackling things you don’t like and your effectiveness will multiply.
12. Have a Buffer - Create earlier deadlines. Life happens, things come up. This is why it’s good to have some fudge room and complete your tasks early. It’s also quite marvelous to coast at the end or even be done early.