love, life, and the pursuit of liberation
I am an extreme procrastinator. I have problems with making deadlines and have not followed through on commitments. This has caused a problem in my personal and professional lives, and though I “know” better, I have had challenges with getting through it.
Before I share my solution, let me share what didn’t work to fix procrastination.
I know I’m not the only one that has tried everything to no avail. I realize it was because I was mislabeling the symptom as the problem. Procrastination is not the actual root of the evil itself. I had to get clear about what was truly going on deep beneath the surface in order to figure out a way out of this habit.
I’m a true introvert and my energy is my most precious commodity.
I started to analyze what I felt whenever I was faced with a task that I wanted to avoid whether it was something easy (sending a text message), emotional (telling someone no), or labor intensive. I discovered that all of those tasks made me feel like I was too needed, that everyone wanted to suck the life force out of me with their needs and that I would have no energy left for myself. Somehow, I convinced myself that by avoiding certain tasks where other people needed me, I was able to keep some of ME for ME.
I’m a true introvert and my energy is my most precious commodity. To feel “on” and “needed” all the time makes me want to run and hide. Obviously this cannot work for most life and work circumstances, so I’ve developed three techniques that have been working consistently.
1- Change my mind:
I decided that the only way to change this habit was to change the mindset at the root. Instead of seeing tasks, responsibilities, and projects as someone taking the life force out of me, I’ve begun to remind myself that those situations are opportunities for me to shine and show my talents and professionalism. I repeat those words as an affirmation when I notice that anxiety and avoidance of inbox numbers or task sheets creeping up.
2- Pay attention:
I began to take note of when those anxieties and avoidance start to escalate.Usually, I’ve been working through lunch, eating poorly, and prioritizing other people’s needs. I now realize that when it’s happening more frequently, it’s a sign that I need to recharge. I might take a break in my car at work or treat myself for a mani/pedi (accompanied by a glass of champagne of course).
3- Create bite sizes:
Like most people, my weekly to do list can grow exponentially in a blink of an eye. When that happens, I just want to give up because it seems like I’m never going to get ahead so why try only to fail. Two weeks ago, I’ve been spending a moment each morning to highlight only three things in my “essential work column”* to complete for the day. I find that to be much more realistic for what I can accomplish, and I feel successful when I achieve that goal. The next day I highlight three more things in a different color. Success begets success.
That’s it and that’s all! I’ve found my productivity to have greatly increased (and I’ve gotten some compliments from folks who’ve noticed) and more importantly, I feel so much better. My anxiety is decreasing and I’m feeling more empowered to advocate for my needs and my truth. I hope these tips can help someone else.
*I have a weekly task sheet that has a section with my “big rocks” and “upcoming deadlines” at the top, a row with my week at a glance and two columns of tasks— those that are essential to my work and those that can be delegated or are administrative. At the bottom, I have a space to jot personal things. I type up my list on Mondays and hand write any additions as the week goes on. Then I file it away the following Monday when I start a fresh one.