Most of us suffer from procrastination from time to time… Yes, even me. So I thought it’d be a good topic to tackle in this month’s blog, but felt it only fair to lead by example. I’m going to share the formula that I used to ‘get it done’.
We all tend to see procrastination as ‘the enemy’ – something that stands between us and the doing process. An important first step when overcoming procrastination is to change that perception. Stop seeing it as an impediment or a faulty behaviour and begin to view it as an important part of the process of ‘doing’.
When procrastination is perceived as a useful step in the doing process it feels easier to expect the transition to the next step. If we view procrastination as ‘being stuck’, there’s a good chance of staying stuck. Why is it useful? Because the discomfort of ‘not doing’ lets you know that you want to do it. Don’t try to get rid of it, work through it.
Before you read any further, it’s important to realise that there is no magic bullet. Procrastination is a mental and emotional attitude and the only person who can change that is you.
When dealing with my own feelings of procrastination, it seemed vital to examine and then challenge the perception of the experience in order to create the movement into action.
Most of the reasons for ‘not doing’ will reveal a state of resistance. The focus of the mental and emotional attention is on “I don’t want to do it because…..” Resistance is a state of pushing against something. It is not possible for you to flow in the direction of the task while you push against it.
Generally speaking, most people who are in this state of ‘not doing’ are stuck because when they imagine themselves doing the task, they are imagining the aspect of it that they least want to do and this thought launches the emotion that is causing the resistance. (Fear, dread, resentment, lack of confidence, etc.).
Example: A person who has to make a sales call but is fearful of failure. When that person imagines making the call, they are likely to imagine the difficulty of success followed by the emotional dejection. Perception of failure and dejection is not the springboard into action. The task stays on the ‘to do’ list day after day after day, and the pressure mounts. The longer it goes on, the more ingrained the perception of being stuck.
So, how to move into action? You have to move your mental and emotional attention away from the perception that is causing resistance. As with any action, motivation is the key. Motivation comes more easily when you indulge your mental and emotional attention with the pay-off. How will you feel when it is done? Relieved? Satisfied? Accomplished? Proud? Excited? Capable? Happy?
Here’s the formula that I used.
- Give yourself permission to not do the task until you felt inspired to do it. This instantly reduces the feeling of resistance and stuckness. This doesn’t mean ‘letting yourself off’. It is necessary to continue to consider the task to be important but with the emphasis on finding a useful way to feel motivated to action.
- Stop allowing the unhelpful thoughts and feelings of resistance and the thoughts about beginning the task. Stop thinking (and feeling) about the reasons why you are reluctant, it only makes it worse. Adopt the mantra “I am looking forward to getting it done.” Let your thoughts ‘leap over the doing’ and take your imagination to the place where the task is complete.
- Visualise success. Indulge your emotional attention in the feelings of having completed the task. This is a very important step. When you use your imagination to focus on the good feelings you will have when you have completed the task, the brain will eventually fire off pleasure chemicals at the thought of doing the task.
- Meanwhile, break the task down into very small chunks. Using the above example of a sales call, here’s how that works.
(i) Find the phone number of the person to call.
(ii) Dial the number and listen to ring tone.
(iii) Ask to speak to the person.
(iv) Speak to the person.
(v) End the call.
Breaking the task down lets you know where the problem is. In this case, chunk (iv) is the problem because it has the biggest amount of resistance. In isolation, all the other chunks are do-able. After identifying your own problem area, set about changing the emotional response to it.
In my own case I used EFT to lower the unhelpful feeling (fear). I identified how I would feel once I had succeeded. I did a 5 minute meditation/visualisation where I moved my attention to the end of the task and immersed myself in the thoughts and feelings of completion and success. I repeated this process for a few days. I did the task.
My own particular area of procrastination was a mammoth task that had been around for a number of years, so it took some work. Even so, using the above strategy it took me about a week to shift my energy. Procrastination about a task like the above example can be shifted almost instantly with this formula.
You might realise when you break the task down, that none of the chunks are causing the problem. It may be that you have some strong limiting beliefs that need to be tackled. For example, if you are procrastinating about doing things to make yourself more successful, you may find yourself thwarted by the belief that you aren’t good enough. The most effective way of changing those beliefs is by using EFT. If they are really strong or deep seated, you might respond well to Matrix Re-Imprinting.
A final note… If your point of procrastination is about a major life-changing event, or a step toward achieving your potential, consider very carefully the words of Pablo Picasso:
“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone”
Good luck with beating that procrastination. Let me know how you get on and if you need any help, get in touch.