Have you ever procrastinated?
Okay, that’s probably a silly question. Almost everyone falls prey to this time-wasting practice at some point, some of us often.
So, what’s that about? Why do you get tempted into doing anything but whatever it is you know you need to do, but somehow don’t want to?
Procrastination as a coping mechanism
An interesting answer I heard to this recently was stress.
I’d thought about procrastination in terms of fear before now, and feeling divided. There’s a part of you that is afraid of failing at that task, so it gives you reasons not to do it, while another part of you gives you justifications for why you deserve to do something else, anything else.
Still, the idea that procrastination is a coping mechanism for stress fits within those ideas, and expands on them. It explains more forms of procrastination, without negating the parts model. After all, sometimes you may procrastinate because a task seems boring, rather than because you feel you can’t do it. It still makes you feel uncomfortable, even if it’s not difficult.
Whenever something feels overwhelming in some way – too hard, too boring, too uncertain, not enough time to get it done – a part of you wants to avoid it. And that’s when procrastination kicks in.
Does it matter if you procrastinate?
Dilly-dallying when you have something you need to get done can lead to serious problems.
It’s like the old saying: ‘A stitch in time saves nine’. If you sew up a hole when it first appears, it’ll take a minute, and a tiny bit of thread. If you leave it to get caught on things and cause a serious rip, you may not be able to fix it at all.
In the same way, at least here in the UK, if you pay a parking fine straight away, it’s far cheaper than if you drag it out. And if you don’t pay it until you’ve been taken to court, you’ll also be paying fines, interest and legal fees!
All told, it is really helpful to understand what causes procrastination, and to learn some techniques to help you beat the push to dawdle and defer what you know you need to do.
So, what can you do to overcome procrastination?
Top Tips to Stop Procrastinating
Give yourself a countdown
Mel Robbins talks in her book ‘The 5 Second Rule: The Surprisingly Simple Way to Live, Love, and Speak with Courage‘ about how our decisions and actions depend on what she calls ‘push moments’. These are times when you hear a voice, feel a push, to do something different. Yet, most times you just fall back into what you always do. So, you might know that you need to write a particular letter, but instead you just go to check your social media ‘only for a second’.
Mel Robbins suggests that if, in that moment, you give yourself a countdown, you can listen to that wise inner voice, and make a change. She likes a countdown from five to one, because it’s very quick – that’s how much time you have to make a change before habit drags you back into your rut. Also, once you get to zero, there’s nowhere else to go: you’ve got to ‘lift off’!
Doing even a short amount of movement, HIIT-style, gives you a quick boost to your focus and willpower.
For example, you could get up and run up a couple of flights of stairs as fast as possible. Or do ten burpees. Or jog on the spot for a minute at top speed.
All of these get your blood flowing, your mind activated, and give you a boost. Then, it’s much easier to make a start on something difficult.
Release the emotion
Using EFT or tapping is a great way to release the emotion that is blocking you from getting on with whatever it is you feel hesitant about.
If you can recognise what the emotion is that is fuelling your procrastination, you can use the basic recipe to tap it away, or at least get yourself unstuck.
For example, tapping the side of the hand (karate chop point) you could say: ‘Even though I feel bored at the thought of this task, and it feels like it’ll take so long, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.’
Then, tapping round the points, you can either use a reminder phrase like ‘This boredom’ or ‘This procrastination’. Or, just say whatever comes into your head in the moment.
Once you feel calmer, it may suddenly be a lot easier to make a start on whatever you’ve been putting off.
Schedule the task in the morning
It’s been shown that you have a set amount of willpower each day. So, if you have something you know you are resisting doing, scheduling it first thing means you have the highest amount of willpower when you make a start.
Break things down
As mentioned above, one of the main reasons for procrastination is if a task feels overwhelming. Breaking it down into manageable chunks is a great way to ease into it.
It’s also good to start with the easiest chunk, if possible. Achieving a quick success gives you a boost in motivation that will help you through other harder parts.
Be compassionate with yourself
Beating yourself up for procrastinating just stresses you out more. Negative self-talk can become a vicious cycle: the more you berate yourself, the less capable you feel of doing anything differently, and the more everything feels like a struggle.
Instead, take some time to acknowledge that you’ve been struggling, and offer yourself forgiveness. When you feel less stressed, it will be easier to actually get the task done.
Ask for/find help
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, then getting a bit of help can be the perfect antidote.
Consider who might have skills or knowledge that would be of assistance to getting your task done. Or who might have a bit of time to lend a hand. Asking for help is a way to achieve the needed results, and shows awareness of the issue, and the strength to take a step outside of your comfort zone.
Obviously, if it’s a task at work that has been assigned to you, it may not be possible to ask for help (though don’t totally discount this). Still, there may be other resources that will help you: software or tools, either physical or perhaps online. Taking a bit of time to find something that will make your job more manageable, so it actually gets done, is a good investment. As opposed to going and surfing social media again 😉
Talking of asking for help, here are some other ways that you can make your task easier:
How coaching can help
A coach can help you with procrastination by helping you to get clear on why you’re finding a particular task so challenging. They can also encourage you to break down tasks into manageable chunks and to start with the easy stuff, so you get a little dopamine boost for having succeeded.
A coach is also there as an accountability partner, to keep you on track. And they can help you formulate your why: why it matters that you get this thing done. Having some positive motivation can be the little extra push you need to make a start.
How hypnosis can help
In a hypnotic state, it is easier to find a sense of calm. That can help relieve the stress so that you can see things more clearly, and think more creatively. Coming up with alternate solutions, or innovative ways of getting a task done, or simply boosting your feelings of resourcefulness, will all support you in getting down to things.
In addition, a hypnotherapist can guide you through some parts work. In this, you can find out what the positive intent of each part of yourself is, and negotiate with them to achieve the best possible outcome for the whole of you.
You can also bring in your highest motivation, and visualise achieving your goal, building more energy and enthusiasm for the task ahead.
How tapping can help
Tapping can not only be used to help get yourself calm enough to see things clearly. It can also release the difficult emotions and preconceptions around a task. And perhaps even more importantly, you can also tap in resources that will help you get the job done!
If you’d like some help getting over your procrastination, why not get in contact? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07561 231281.