Have you ever found yourself facing a deadline with nothing actually done yet?
It could be as simple as folding laundry or as complex as finishing a book that you started 5 years ago. Procrastination is a common human experience, and it's natural to put off certain things that we don't enjoy (like tax preparation, or let's face it, folding laundry).
However, procrastination becomes a problem when it becomes our default response to stress, adding more stress to an already stressful situation. This can lead to a cycle of guilt, self-doubt, and shame.
The first key point to understand is that not all procrastinators are the same. Some people need a deadline and accountability to take action or be productive, while others need a longer runway. Understanding your own tendencies is key to establishing better habits. Have a think for a moment, what are yours?
Here's an idea: Reframe procrastination as "pre-creation." What? Well, consider whether you need time to let ideas marinate, as there is ample value to be had when you allow your sub-conscious to consider the issue over time. Or, determine whether you're avoiding something unpleasant or you are simply not ready to dive in. And then be honest about which one it actually is!
Then, try the following tips to establish new, more fulfilling patterns and avoid the procrastination situation:
Add accountability: Set up a structure of accountability with a coach or accountability partner. This can help wean you off last-minute pressure and establish earlier deadlines.
Eat the frog: Do the task you least want to do first, such as an unpleasant task like eating a frog :). This can help alleviate procrastination and save time and energy. You'll also feel much better for the rest of your day, knowing you honoured your hardest challenge and completed it. If you'd like more information, there's a book called 'Eat that Frog! 21 ways to stop procrastinating and get more done in less time', by Brian Tracy.
Set a timer: Use a timer to keep yourself accountable and avoid overestimating the amount of time a task will take. Try The Pomodoro Technique, setting a timer for 25 minutes with a two-to-five minute break in between, or experiment with your own time blocks. For me, I find 40 min on any given task / brain work is about right. After that time, I can distract myself easily with all manner of things (wiping down kitchen bench 3 x comes to mind!)
Practice discernment: Are your To-Do lists running your life? If so, cut down your daily priorities and focus on the most important tasks. And do them first!
By reframing procrastination and establishing new habits, you can break the cycle of guilt and self-doubt and become more productive and fulfilled.