How to Deal with Procrastination
Procrastination is a major drain. It generally feels terrible while you're doing it. It feels terrible to deal with the consequences. It feels terrible to know that I am a procrastinator.
So why the heck do we procrastinate?
We do it to avoid something even more painful.
So the key to dealing with procrastination is to reduce the pain of the activity -- and the imagined pain of the outcomes.
Here are three of my favorites:
- Chill out your lizard brain with physical relaxation. Put a caddy in your tub and write while soaking, invest in wonderful slippers, robes, candles and throws, massage your feet while you work -- whatever calms your lizard brain enough to allow you to move forward.
- Make the goal to start, not to finish. A classic lower the barrier to entry strategy. There isn't danger in the start... there is danger in the finish. If I aim to finish a blog post, it might be bad (laughably bad) or maybe no one will read it, etc etc. If the goal is simply to start it, nothing can really go wrong, as even brainstorming bad ideas is a start!
- Just do one. Similar to the strategy above, it lowers the bar on chores, cleaning and errands. Rather than getting overwhelmed by my whole list, I'll just do one. Simple & easy. Usually, the burst of feel good "I can't believe I've been putting this 5 minute task off for 3 months" sparks the next item... but even if not, that's one thing crossed off.
- Connect with why. Why do I WANT to do it? If I don't really want to, than I probably don't actually have to (and I can cross it off). And if I actually have to, there must be some reason that I want to (even if its because I want to make someone else happy or to check off one step on the way to something bigger that I want). Getting clear on my motivation can kick my but into gear.
I fall into the procrastination trap all the time. I use these strategies embarrassingly often.
One thing that almost never works for me? Yelling at myself, putting myself down and generally acting like a big bully. It worked when I was younger - and it was easy - but I'm really glad that I have to be (get to be) nicer to myself now.