Procrastination is a real point of struggle for a lot of people. Myself included.
There are all sorts of reasons people procrastinate. Fear. Uncertainty. Sleepiness. Overwhelm.
It’s useful to know why you’re procrastinating.
But it’s even more useful to know how to catch yourself in the act.
Let me ask you if this is familiar…
You sit down at your computer to write… let’s say a series of email messages for a client.
You open a new document in your favorite word processing program, and you type in “Subject Line” and then you freeze.
You don’t know what to put there.
While you think about it, you pop over to your favorite social media or news site… and then an hour later, you realize you’re no closer to having a subject line, and oh-my-where-did-the-time-go?
Here’s the thing… at least part of your mind, while you’re doing the thing other than what you intended to be doing, is saying, “Hey… weren’t you going to write an email message?” In my experience, it starts saying that almost as soon as I make the decision to do something else.
We’re very good at ignoring that rational little voice.
What if instead of ignoring it, you learned to hear it sooner?
That’s a thing I’ve been working on… and I’m noticing that not only do I realize sooner when I’m procrastinating, but I’m also uncomfortable with staying off task.
When you’re good at ignoring that voice, even when it does get through to you, you often respond by thinking, “I’ll get back to that in just a minute.”
Train yourself instead to engage with that voice, and the response becomes more along the lines of, “Yes, that’s right. I’ll go do that now.”
So how do you train yourself to hear that little voice and engage with it? I’m not going to lie… it takes practice.
This is essentially a type of mindfulness, so meditation helps. (I know, I recommend mediation for just about everything.)
But there are other things that help, too.
I’ve found tuning into my physical sensations is also useful. When I’m about shift into procrastinating mode, I usually have a feeling of resistance, a little tightening in the stomach.
When I get that feeling, it’s uncomfortable, which is why it’s so tempting to move off to something easy… like social media. But if I just sit with it for a moment, it fades, and then I stay on task.
I’ve also found that saying what I’m doing out loud any time I transition from one thing to another is really effective. There’s nothing like saying, “And now I’m looking at Facebook,” to make me realize that’s not what I should be doing.
Give these three things a try — paying heed to the rational voice in your mind, noticing your physical sensations, and speaking your transitions out loud. And then let me know how they work for you. Share your own experiences and anti-procrastination techniques in the comments below.
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That’s all for now. Make it a great week!