Getting close to the October 15th tax deadline reminds me about the epitome of procrastination. No one really wants to do their taxes anyway, but the ones that hold off all the way until the end REALLY don’t want to deal with it.
But this isn’t just about taxes. Let’s face it – we have a chronic problem in our society that starts at school and waiting to do your homework at the last minute (or write that paper at midnight the night before) and continues at work, at home, and in pretty much any area of your life.
The thing is that the papers have to be written, the power point has to be ready, and the laundry has to be done.
So what do we do about it? Here are a few tips:
I know this sounds simple, but it’s like Amelia Earhart said “The best way to do it is to do it”.
The idea of doing it is usually much worse than the act itself and the longer you put it off the more you are actually stressing about it. I’ve never met a procrastinator that wasn’t worrying the entire time they weren’t doing what they were supposed to be doing.
It’s as if a black cloud is following you everywhere you go and the reality is that you can’t really enjoy your time because you know it’s there.
You know how runners or cyclists always say that the first ten minutes isn’t fun at all, but then the adrenaline kicks in?
Well the same is true with procrastination. Once you start on your project, and get about ten minutes into it, something goes off in your head and you start feeling a bit of a rush. My thought is that it’s the dissipation of the black cloud that you are feeling, rather than an actual rush of adrenaline, but the end result is still the same.
I find, and have read, that playing soft music in the background, weeds out distractions and helps focus.
Although a lot of these studies are targeted to ADD and ADHD people, the truth is that soothing, mediation or massage like music does help people focus, whether it’s on the computer or you are listening on your headset while doing household chores. It’s definitely worth a try and you have nothing to lose.
So put your music on and dive in!
Think about the last time you had a task to do, and remember how you felt when it was done.
Didn’t you actually feel good and accomplished? Doesn’t the end result, the paper, the product or organization make it worth your time? A simple visualization technique will remind you of how good you will feel when you are done with your task and I can’t stress enough how much more you will enjoy your free time. It’s so much easier to relax without that testy black cloud following you around.
It’s definitely been proven over and over again that procrastination is caused by a root fear of failure.
By not doing the task at all you are failing on your own terms. My personal feeling on this is to talk out that fear with your closest ally – one that you can trust to divulge this confidence to.
The truth is that most of the time, in a short conversation that you have out loud, you will talk your self out of that fear. When we hear ourselves talk, and we hear our own insecurities, we often times talk our own selves out of the thought process that lead us to the procrastination itself.
Remember, your mind is very creative, and 99% of the time, the task at hand is not nearly as hard as your imagination has made it!