Okay, who hasn’t done it?
Who hasn’t stared at their to-do list and thought, “Nah, not today. It can wait.”
Who hasn’t boosted their excuses and lack of motivation with:
- It’s not that important.
- I can do it after I’ve… (had a nap, watched the game, had a snack etc.)
- I’m not in the mood.
Procrastination gets in the way of life, doesn’t it? Or does life get in the way of procrastination?
And there are two main types of procrastination:
- Avoidance—not doing the task because of feelings of overwhelm, fear, stress, and other reasons.
- Arousal—not doing the task because it feels better to do something else, such as watch a movie, check your Facebook feed, gossip with your friends.
Some procrastination, though, is good. Yes, to procrastinate on the non-important, non-urgent things is fine.
But to procrastinate on the things you know you really should be doing or really want to do is not quite so fine. Especially if it’s costing you money, time, stress, and impacting your relationships at home and at work.
So what’s procrastination costing you?
If the cost of procrastination is too much, what can you do about it? How can you get around the barriers stopping you from doing what you need to do?
Glad you asked 😛
Here are 3 Key Questions to Ask Yourself to Stop Procrastinating and Be More Effective
1. Am I procrastinating?
This may sound paradoxical, but I’ve had people attend my workshops and say they don’t procrastinate and yet during the course of the day they say:
- They have feelings of overwhelm, or
- They’re perfectionistic, or
- They have a fear of failure, or
- They have a lot of self-doubts, or
- They get easily distracted.
Say what? These things are the very causes of procrastination and they are very often a mask of it.
As Jack Canfield, bestselling author of Chicken Soup for the Soul says;
“Fear is the number one cause of procrastination.”
So, if you acknowledge any of these masked feelings, then the chances are you have procrastinating behaviour.
This is an important first step because without acknowledging there’s a problem, you can’t or won’t look for ways to unmask or solve the problem.
2. What is the real reason I’m procrastinating?
Conversely, a lot of people are aware of their procrastinating behaviour, but they’re not so aware of the underlying reasons for it.
They know what they’re doing, but not aware of what is making them do (or not do).
There are, in fact, 3 underlying reasons for any procrastinating behaviour:
- Your beliefs and thoughts about the task.
- Your emotional response to the task.
- Your natural inclinations and instinctive reactions to the task.
At least one of these reasons, and often a mix, are responsible for your procrastinating behaviour.
Therefore be curious and delve into the reasons behind your procrastination.
Are your beliefs about what you need to do stopping you from doing it?
Do you have a negative emotional response to this task stopping you from doing it?
Is your natural reaction to run away from doing this type of task, or to fight it?
This an important next step because without investigating the cause of your procrastinating behaviour, you can’t or won’t look for ways to counteract it.
3. How can I solve my procrastinating behaviour?
This can often be an overwhelming question in itself.
Even the thought of trying to solve your procrastinating behaviour can be so overwhelming it causes you to procrastinate!
But if you’ve got to Question 3, you’ve already done 66% of the work you need to do to solve your procrastination. There’s only this last bit to go, which isn’t so hard.
All you need to do is identify your main cause (Question 2)—belief, emotion, or natural instinct—and then reframe it in a positive, self-empowering way.
For example, if you lack self-confidence or have a limiting belief of “I’m not good enough to do this,” then you can reframe that self-doubt like this:
- “I’m not good enough to do this BUT I know who can help me get it done (or what tools will help, or where to look for information e.g. YouTube, Google).”
If you feel emotions such as stress or anxiety about a certain task, such as the fear of failure, then you can reframe that fear like this:
- “I don’t like failing BUT failure isn’t the end of the world and the most successful people learn from their mistakes and fail forward. Success is invariably the reward for failing first.”
If you naturally react with anger or run away from confronting tasks, then you can override those ‘fight and flight’ instincts by reframing and honouring your values like this:
- “I value a strong work ethic (or peace of mind, or harmony, or respect, or other’s perspective) and will honour those values by doing what is right in this moment.”
This is an important last step, because without implementing effective solutions to your procrastinating behaviour, you can’t or won’t stop procrastinating.