They say that Procrastination Is the thief of time, (Edward Young – it is also a sign of stress and anxiety.
Often when we procrastinate, we avoid doing the thing that we most dread by engaging in random activities. For instance, when I had to write my business plan, I started watching Dog Whisperer. Every day I would sit poised at my desk ready to plot world domination, only able to manage a couple of paragraphs. The words were whirring around in my head but for some reason I was not able to commit these words to paper.
I would reason that my new fascination with the Dog Whisperer, was just the distraction I needed to get the creative juices flowing and alleviate my stress. I even managed to convince myself that binge watching episodes of the Dog Whisperer was an integral part of my self-care package.
This cycle of denial, continued for two weeks, whilst in the background, I was becoming agitated and fearful that I would never complete the task; something we in the business call catastrophising. You know the drill; guilt, anxiety, self-flagellation, doubt, the ‘I can do this tomorrow’ conversation to OMG what is wrong with me, I am never going to be able to do this.
It’s worth noting that I DO NOT HAVE A DOG – which begs the question, what was I afraid of?
l decided that it was time to channel my inner coach. I asked myself, what’s the problem here, what am I avoiding, what am I telling myself, is this helpful behaviour, and more importantly is this defeatist self-talk based on fact? The answer was a BIG FAT NO!
Once I realised that I had allowed procrastination to become my Kilimanjaro, I set about putting a plan in place.
- I broke the task down into bite sized pieces and blocked out time in my diary to complete each section of the business plan
- I scheduled in ‘Planned Procrastination Sessions’ (one in the morning and one in the afternoon), this allowed me to indulge and embrace my penchant for the Dog Whisperer without guilt or recrimination.
- At the end of each day, I would reflect, acknowledge my progress and reinforce my target for the following day
These small steps helped me to gain traction, commit and complete my business plan. I found the ‘Planned Procrastination’ helpful as I was giving myself permission to meander and distract myself from the task at hand in a controlled and measured way
The key to mastering procrastination is to own your behaviour. You can either choose to procrastinate and accept the consequences of your inaction or commit, by creating a plan that enables you to meet your deadline/complete the task, with the added bonus of a little time for ‘Planned Procrastination’
BTW – I have taken ‘Planned Procrastination’ to a new level. I have taken to perusing power tools in DIY shops!