“Procrastination is a real problem for me and I intend to do something about it. Starting tomorrow.”
Often the reason I put things off is related to a problem with knowing how to do something or feeling like it’s too big of an undertaking and I’ll somehow have more time later.
But that’s the obvious way procrastination manifests itself. In reality the problem for me is the more subversive procrastination that shows up as a feeling rather than a thought. That feeling can be described for me as fear – fear of not being able to do something as simple as find a place to put something away, or as complex as marketing my coworking space.
Or let’s take something a lot more current: writing my blog post about procrastination. I’m not kidding – since I started this post I’ve deleted one paragraph and started practically from scratch, thought about stopping to change the phone number on the Fuse website, glanced at the blinking notification light on my phone and reached out to check my e-mail. On my phone. With my computer open right in front of me.
Distractions are how we justify avoiding the things we are fearful of doing. They’re how we keep ourselves safe from that feeling – that nervous simmer in our stomach that feels like nervousness and smells of fear. It’s the feeling that is usually preceded by thinking “I really should do this” and followed by “I can take care of it later.”
Looking at myself and how/when that feeling shows up for me I’m reminded of this quote about how “Fear is an emotion. Danger is real.” I recognize that most of the time when I feel fear about doing something it’s because I either don’t think I’ll do it well or I don’t think I know how to do it.
There are certainly times when I don’t do something because I’d rather do something else, but those aren’t the times that I’m most concerned about. Those are times I could probably prevent with a little better scheduling or self-rewarding. But procrastination that comes from fear is something you can rarely reward yourself out of.
A friend of mine just suggested something she does: Structured Procrastination. As she explained it, the idea is that if you have something you’re really not wanting to do because it’s super important you find something else that’s even more super important so you want to do the first thing.
I feel pretty strongly about addressing issues head on, though, so for me it’s really important that I find a way to start doing things BECAUSE they’re important and I’m scared of doing them. So what I’ve been trying to do is really pay attention to how I feel every time I’m deciding whether to do something.
If the decision to not do something is based on some sort of logic, I let that slide. If it’s based on a feeling then I try to stop myself from making the decision until I’ve acknowledged the feeling. It’s kind of like shoplifting – statistics show that it decreases just by asking each customer if you can help them.
I guess that’s how I feel about procrastination: it’s shoplifting my productivity. So if I just pay some more attention to my decisions about how to use my time, maybe it will slink away with an awkward “Um … no thanks …” and walk out with empty pockets.
At least I got through writing the post on procrastination even though I feel like it’s pretty lacking … it’s a start.
Me – 1 / Procrastination 1 bajillion
But I’m trending in the right direction.