Do you ever procrastinate?

Are you a procrastinator?  Better question – do you procrastinate sometimes?

We need to be careful not to just “pick up” unwanted identities and start wearing them like our most comfortable pair of shoes!  I think everyone has procrastinated at something, sometime in their life.

If you find yourself doing this regularly, it’s worth a look.  In my case, it seems I procrastinate on the “important” stuff or maybe that’s just when I really notice I’m doing it.  This topic of procrastination is a close relative of the question “What are you tolerating?” Asking myself that question a while back led to a lot of profound discoveries and also, eventually, a lot of completed projects!

Understanding the “WHY” behind my aberrant behavior often helps me confront and overcome the problem. So now I’m asking myself, “Why am I procrastinating on things I really want to do, enjoy doing and feel are important to get done?”  Joyce Meyer did a talk on fear being the root cause of procrastination. I don’t disagree, but personally I need to break that down into something I can wrap my mind around. Why would I “fear” keeping my work area neat and organized or putting the final touches on a project I’ve been working on for years and have dreamt about accomplishing?

Let’s go back to the concept of wearing an identity like a pair of comfortable shoes. Who will I “be” once I’ve completed the major project or accomplished that coveted goal? The fear of the unknown is a very subtle motivator and one we often don’t admit. Getting out of our “comfort zones” especially in the area of personal identity, is more uncommon than you may think.

But let’s bring this back down to earth and my cluttered desk. When I look at it, I know I always have something to do – cleaning my desk (and all the little “mini tasks” each of those papers represent) is something I am familiar with! By the time I finish that task, I might not have the time to tackle the more uncomfortable tasks of learning that new program on the computer, or making the calls to potential customers or an old friend or relative that’s been on my mind but I haven’t spoken to in years. Hence keeping a little clutter around provides that “buffer zone” of familiarity and a good excuse not to launch right into the more uncomfortable tasks.

Here are just a couple things I’ve found to do that help me “cross the line” and get some of these things done – FINALLY.

  1. Write down on a piece of paper just 2 or 3 things you have procrastinated doing.
  2. Identify what you think it would mean if you actually did the task and how it would make you feel once it was completed.
  3. Afraid of failure or success? Would it launch you into a whole new way of looking at yourself?
  4. Once you’ve identified some of these possible emotions, there is nothing to do about them, just take note.
  5. Then break the task down into bite size elements of 15-30 minutes increments.
  6. Identify one thing you can accomplish in the next 15 minutes, set a timer and START!
  7. If you didn’t quite complete it in the first 15 minutes, set the timer for another 15 and go at it again. You’ll be surprised at what you can get done!

For me, the hardest part is just starting – especially if it is a huge mess or complicated process. Just identify a couple things you can do and dig in. There is a great sense of satisfaction in getting at least ONE thing done you set out to do! You’ll be surprised at how much fun you have and how quickly you move along. The main thing is kicking out that sense of guilt or shame that haunts you when you think about or see the “_____________” (fill in the blank) that you have been putting off.

One last thing, if you struggle with your desk and paper clutter along with me, here is a little technique a friend shared with me that works great. Take all the papers in the area you are trying to unclutter and sort them into three piles.

  1. First pile represents those things that will take a minute or less to accomplish (relating to that piece of paper)
  2. Second pile represents tasks that MUST be accomplished this next week
  3. Third pile represents things that can be put off for 2 or more weeks. You can start over with that pile the following week and pull out the next week’s important business.
  4. Go back to your first pile and get those handled. You can then plan out your week to accomplish the second pile and get the third pile out of sight, to address later. VOILA! A clean desk!

I would love your feedback! Was this helpful? Have any ideas or tips that could help the rest of us?  Please share!