This morning I set aside time to begin an assignment for my studies as a life coach. With a cup of coffee in hand I approached my computer spilling a bit of coffee on the desk, as I cleaned the spill I decided to clean and organize the total work area including the book shelf, fax machine and printer.
Upon completion of the task I decided I would work more efficiently if I ate breakfast, I poured a cup of cereal only to find no milk, I went to the store for milk and while there shopped for more items I might need, on the way home I stopped for gas and talked to a neighbor. When I finally arrived home I was in no mood to do the assignment, so I gave the dog a bath.
Procrastination is a psychological effect. It happens when we replace high-priority and urgent activities with less important tasks, therefore putting off the important matters to a later time (which, by the way, may never come). For example, we might have an important report to write, but writing the report is boring, so instead we tidy our desk. We associate pain with writing the report and pleasure with tidying up the desk and our brain will always lead us to pleasure and avoid pain if left un-checked..
Procrastination can be a result of anxiety. We may be worried about a poor performance in a task, or, perhaps we just don’t know where to begin or how to get the help we need.
Procrastination can also lead us to a place of stress or feelings of guilt, which can be compounded if our lack of action impacts others who are depending on us.
The problem procrastination causes when it develops into a habit is these feelings of anxiety, stress and guilt can be the cause of further procrastination becoming a never ending cycle.
For most people procrastination is normal to a certain extent and can be overcome by a few coaching tactics. Listed below are a few simple things I do when I feel procrastination setting in.
1) I visualize completing the task and the benefit I receive when I know it’s complete and don’t have to worry about it any longer. I form a vivid image of me completing the task. This helps me perceive the immediate benefit
2) Don’t be afraid to ask for help, it always amazes me what someone else’s prospective can do. It can result in greater understanding of the project and make it much easier for me to complete.
3) Time management can be a problem with procrastinators. Set a deadline and hold yourself to it.
You may find that committing a deadline to some one who will hold you responsible, helpful. I do.
4) Instead of looking at the big picture all at once, break it down into smaller pieces. It’s far easier to focus on a small task than a big one. Identify the sub-tasks, prioritize them into a logical order of importance and start from the top to complete the project.