Struggling to get things done? Delaying or putting off those tasks? completing things at the last minute, or getting things done once the deadline has already expired? Join the club,
The good news, you are not alone, and it might not all be your fault. Getting things done now as opposed to some time next week is akin to swimming through mud for some, but help could be at hand.
Procrastination is like swimming through mud
When I was at University, sharing a house with 2 other students, I was the only bona fide procrastinator in the house, at a time when the word procrastination was not exactly known to me or my social circle, so I was just known as unbelievably lazy by myself and a paper shuffler by my friends.
My revision strategy was simple, I would spend around 30 minutes looking for the right book to lean on, something with pictures in it. Getting down to the real work just as the clocked edged towards 11pm in the final moments before deadline.
I have been in the mental space of beginning a essay assignment for the next day, when my friends were going off to sleep. Each time, I vowed never again, and there I was, repeating that same mantra the next time.
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My mate Tom was not a procrastinator, up Saturday morning, breakfast, few jokes, then back to his room to what would be a 7-9 hour shift of study and assignments. My other house mate, less so with the humour, would get up in what was a pre-set mood, a mental state of what had to be achieved that day. A few nods of acknowledgment if lucky before disappearing back into his cave for another study day-shift. Then there was me, same course, but not allot to do, well rephrase that, not allot to do at that moment, other than work out what to have for breakfast. In fact even breakfast was an unplanned random event.
The day would pass, and like a whistle from a factory, signalling a shift change, my 2 house mates would emerge, transformed, hyper, chatty, surprisingly fresh looking and content. Work ended and play could begin.
In contrast, I on the other hand having done very little throughout the day, all I could do was join in the banter and to conclude that I was not in the right head space for work, so I think it will be better tomorrow after a good night out. I actually felt an uplift in mood in that I had planned to do something the very next morning. That was my university life cycle.
Finding the Procrastination off Switch?
Most written material online on the subject of procrastinators make note that procrastinators can miss deadlines what ever the consequences. I would agree in part with this, but like much you read on-line, especially when written by writers without the benefit of personal experience, the text falls victim to the google paradox of search engine research, for the purpose of relisting on the same search engine.
In my own experience, there is a threshold to which procrastination type behaviour can and does take a back seat. I believe the level at which procrastination goes into pause mode is different for different folks, but it does exist.
It was this self discovery that lit a candle of hope of finding a work around to this deliberating condition. When we feel threatened our sympathetic nervous system is activated, fight or flight. If you were teleported back to the trenches of World War One, you would learn the skill of keeping your rifle serviceable and operable, you would respond to orders, if you where on the plains of the Serengeti, you would be wired to respond to a charging animal. All these moments you would not delay or put off action. In part we are hard wired to do something.
Feel the fear to pause procrastinating over important tasks
So my theory goes along the view of utilising of understanding what our personal fight or flight responses to a given situation. Channel the fear factor in to doing the task NOW!
A real world example of this in action, mine was public speaking, the fear of being unprepared on stage was greater than the dream of procrastinating over preparing for the speech at the last minute. If I had a big speech to make next Tuesday I spent the weekend rehearsing for it.
If my wife asked me to take the bins out tomorrow, it still would not get done. Spend some time learning a new skill, I am afraid that also still takes the back seat.