Part II of a 4-part series on: Procrastination
Procrastination is a cruel thing, isn’t it?
Regardless of the reasons we do it, the outcome usually ends in tears.
We make these little deals with ourselves and breathe a sigh of relief as we buy more time.
We’re off the hook …for now.
And that’s part of the very issue: the false sense of relief.
The truth is, the task hasn’t gone anywhere. In fact, it’s now disguised as a form of torture that will sit on our shoulder all day, all week or however long it takes until we finally do something about it.
Until then, we take several hits like being in a boxing ring:
- We’re not able to fully focus or concentrate with the distraction of the looming task hanging over us.
- We suffer unnecessary stress and anxiety.
- We beat ourselves up over and over for not stepping up to the plate, though we continue to not step up to the plate.
- We don’t even enjoy the bartered time. Nor do we feel we can fully enjoy the day.
- We suffer unpleasant consequences: late fees, reprimands, lost opportunities.
- We even berate ourselves when we finally perform the action and realise it wasn’t half a fraction as bad as we thought it would be.
Any of these sound familiar? They certainly ring true for me.
It’s a frustrating rut to be in, and I appreciate there are many complexities to procrastination. But there are also practical ways to retaliate and I’ve found that timing helps enormously.
Why timing – particularly the time of day – is everything.
We’ve spoken before about knowing your peak energy time of day, or as I like to call it – our prime time.
For most people it’s usually sometime in the morning. It varies from person to person, but if you can identify your window when your energy is at its best you’ll have identified a secret weapon.
Matching our toughest mental tasks, as well as our most dreaded or difficult tasks, during this peak energy zone has several benefits:
- Ease of Action. Performing tasks is generally easier, since we can motor through them with higher energy.
- Saves Time. Working with greater clarity and efficiency reduces time needed.
- Increased Satisfaction. We experience greater satisfaction having completed, or at least progressed, something important early in the day.
- Overcome Imagined Obstacles. We dispel myths that cause us to delay in the first place, for example, thinking a task too time-consuming or imagining a task to be overly tedious and unpleasant.
- Empowerment And Control. When we develop the habit of diving in and taking action at our best time of day, not only do we see results we also feel more empowered and in control of ourselves and our actions.
In the previous post of this series, we looked at how our choice of words and phrases can make us feel powerless or empowered. The same principle applies here.
We don’t want to feel powerless or ruled by our tasks and to-do’s. We went to feel a sense of empowerment that we can handle anything thrown our way.
It’s important to build the confidence that we can, and the resourcefulness that we’ll figure it out no matter how menacing the task appears to be.
Part of breaking the cycle is taking action to prove that’s the case.
I also argue, one of the best reasons for taking action is to simply be kind and respectful to ourselves. There is no need to put ourselves through the rigamarole of delaying now what will only nag and taunt us in the minutes, hours or days that follow.
The only way to make these things go away is to do them.
And, the sooner the task is done and dusted, the sooner it’s off our minds and we can move on with clear conscience to the next greatest thing. No time like prime time, I say!
No bartering today. Your assignment is to put paid to a task or action you’ve been delaying.
- Face the task head-on during your prime time, using the benefits above to power you.
- Be kind to yourself, stop prolonging the suffering and misery of the inevitable.
- Aim to complete, or at least start work on, the task by midday.
Enjoy a rush of relief, a jolt of productivity and a boost of energy to cue up your next action.
When’s your prime time?
Watch this space for Part III when we look at the habit of little and often.