Why the Traditional Techniques for Combating Procrastination Just Don’t Work…

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Admission time – I, Angela Winfield, am a chronic procrastinator. That’s right. I’ve managed to get a lot done and continue to accomplish a great deal, but, no doubt about it, I am a chronic procrastinator. It creeps in less and less, but it’s something I still deal with from time to time. IN fact, I procrastinated writing this very post!  And, if you’re wondering, yes, it is the very reason I’m writing about procrastination. Do you want to know my secret for putting an end to procrastination and getting it done? Then, read this!

First, let’s take a quick look at some of the reasons you might procrastinate. There are three common reasons.

1.  You work better under pressure

2.  It’s a difficult, boring or downright dirty task and you have zero desire to do it

3.  It’s a big, important task and you don’t know where to begin and don’t want to screw it up or do it wrong

Any of these sound familiar to you? They most certainly do to me.

Then there are the outright lies you tell yourself: “it won’t take that long to do”; “I’ll get to it right after I finish this thing I’m doing right now”; and the list goes on. I’m guilty of this too.

Ultimately, when you procrastinate, you end up feeling stressed, disappointed, angry, guilty and a whole host of other self-directed negative emotions. I’ve been there and even though you feel this way when you procrastinate, the bad feeling isn’t enough to stop you from procrastinating the next time no matter how convinced and committed you are when you declare “I’m never going to do this to myself again!”. And, you always declare that- don’t you? I know I did.

The traditional advice for stopping procrastination includes publicly declaring your goal, getting an accountability buddy, putting some skin in the game by making a stretch investment so there’s money at stake, breaking the task down into tiny doable pieces, and so on. These are good techniques and can help at times, but they simply won’t work for putting an end to procrastination in the long run. The reason they won’t work is because they don’t get you started. Isn’t that what procrastination really is – delaying getting started or restarted on a task?

The traditional techniques are aimed at adding more pressure. This is a problem because, not only might pressure be one of the reasons you procrastinated in the first place, the traditional techniques are based on choosing to be driven by avoidance of fear, embarrassment, shame and disappointment. When you avoid what you don’t want, you lose sight of what it is you do want to create and experience. Too often, people spend their time, energy and actions running from and avoiding what they don’t want that they never get clear on what they do want. Without connecting to what you want, you will never connect to the energy and emotions that naturally, motivate, inspire and fuel you to start. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for harnessing what we typically think of as negative or draining emotions we want to avoid. But, quite frankly when it comes to dealing with procrastination, I don’t want a technique that makes me feel pushed, obligated or shamed in to doing anything – who does?  And, I especially don’t want to feel pushed into doing something I know I have to do or even something I want to do, but don’t know where to start.

So, how to put an end to procrastination? Get yourself started and propel yourself forward by generating constructive, fueling energy and emotion like motivation, inspiration, enthusiasm and excitement. How you ask? Launch my 2-step procrastination power plan? It takes less than 5 minutes.

Step 1: Get quiet for 30 seconds to 1 minute and connect with what you’ll gain from completing the task. Ask yourself questions like, “why did I put this task on my list?”; “what type of person will I be or what characteristics will I have/demonstrate by completing this task?”; “how can I express myself and my core values by completing this task?”

Step 2: Remember your theme song from my earlier post? Sing it baby, in your head, out loud or play the song if you have it at the ready.

Keep this easy 2-step plan at your desk, near your computer or where ever you do your work so it’s ready and waiting for you when you need it. Do it now, no procrastinating! Trust me it comes in handy and will jumpstart you out of procrastination and into action! Let me know how it works.

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