Procrastination, like anything else, is in the eye of the beholder.
I tend to think people use procrastination as a tool for self-sabotage by the way they perceive it instead of through the actual act of avoidance.
Come with me as we go down a windy road towards the truth about procrastination.
Emotions are created by a bunch of neurochemicals responding to external stimuli. When we’re in danger, our brain releases adrenalin and other chemicals which prepare our body for either ‘fight or flight.’
Some of us have an overactive fight or flight mechanism, whether due to past trauma or just a slight imbalance, which can lead to persistent feelings of anxiety.
A full-blown anxiety attack can make you feel like you’re dying. Seriously, not fun. But a lower level of anxiety can have a similar effect as any mild stimulant. Given my addiction to mocha lattes I’m guessing I’m not the only person with a mild-stimulant addiction. Not by a long shot (or venti shot as it were).
Is it a far stretch then to believe we can become addicted to procrastination? Can we learn to crave that special cocktail of neurochemicals fired off when we’re in a panic? When we haven’t done everything we’re supposed to do? When we’re a failure yet again? When we’re [insert whatever self-debasing message you prefer]?
Obviously we must conquer this procrastination monkey on our collective backs!
We must kill it where it lives! We must extrude it from our lives like a painful splinter!
In truth, the actual act of procrastination is very often a smart decision. Typically, when our instincts are telling us not to do something there’s a damn good reason for it.
However, the act of distrusting our instincts and using task-avoidance as a tool with which to engender panic and beat ourselves up certainly does need to be addressed.
Therefore, I’d like to present the radical notion of transforming your procrastination into a tool which strengthens your productivity, creativity and spiritual well-being.
Over the next couple days or weeks, depending on your “panic habit”, when you find yourself procrastinating make note of it. Don’t judge it or react to it. Just note it. At the end of the day, or week, take a few moments to quietly reflect and get some internal communication going around whatever it is you’ve been avoiding.
1. How will doing this thing I’m avoiding get me closer to my goal?
If you can’t answer this clearly and relatively quickly, move on to question 2. If you do have a concise answer here, move on to question 3.
2. How does not doing this thing take me farther away from my goal?
So if this thing won’t get you closer to your goal, why are you worrying about it? Really examine the impact of not doing this thing on your life and the lives of those around you. Don’t judge it, just be with it.
If you find yourself hung up on things that are not relevant to what you’re working towards it’s probably time to sit down and get a clearer picture of what your goals are.
Goals are dynamic and can change from time to time even without our noticing. It’s always valuable to check-in with ourselves to see what’s really important to us in this moment right now.
3. Why am I avoiding doing this thing?
Again, don’t judge. Just listen quietly to what your inner self is telling you about this thing. Are you afraid to fail? Overwhelmed by the thing in some way? Or is the thing simply not completely developed in your mind and will some additional time, information, coaching, whatever resolve the issue?
Instead of procrastinating, try dreaming.
Honestly? When I find myself putting off doing a certain thing it’s usually because I haven’t nurtured the idea of that thing enough. I haven’t spent enough time dreaming about the thing or getting to know exactly how this thing will help me get closer to my goals.
And that’s OK! It’s nothing a few hours of dreaming won’t cure. While dreaming may look suspiciously like procrastination it’s more fun, loads more productive and will leave you feeling infinitely more satisfied.