Do you sometimes find that you struggle to get around to some things? You put them off and find other more pressing priorities? Procrastination is the action of delaying or postponing something.
These days I am super driven and enjoy ticking things off my to do list. In my recruitment consultancy days, we were rewarded by achieving targets and there was a culture of “cracking on”. Running my own business, I am full of ideas and aspirations and love achieving things and often get the feedback that I get a lot done.
But that wasn’t always the case. Certainly not when I think back to school and university when I was supposed to be revising. First, I tidied my stationery drawer. Then I used said stationery to create a beautiful colour coded revision timetable. Then I highlighted my notes and used sticky tags to create sections. Then I was tired so had a little snooze in the sun using my folder as a pillow and hoped my notes would miraculously float into my mind.
Why do we procrastinate? Why do we put things off even when we have identified them as our goals?
In the case of my revision, in hindsight, I don’t think I was particularly interested in the subject and if I had my time again would have studied a different Degree. Certainly I was far more interested in my coaching books when I was a student again a few years ago as an adult.
In my recruitment days some people were labelled as “lazy”. However, I have learned that there are many different reasons people procrastinate and it isn’t always straightforward.
Here are just a few:
- Not wanting to do something unless we have the time / information to do it perfectly.
- Not knowing how to do it and not wanting to ask for help.
- Not knowing where to start with it.
- Lacking confidence.
- Fear. Of failure. Of getting it “wrong”. Of negative feedback.
- Going round in circles with something and getting frustrated, so stopping.
- Struggling to find the time to fit it in.
- Preferring to keep our options open because the situation or the requirement might change.
- Wanting to do more research and gather more information on the thing.
- Hoping someone else will do it instead.
- A lack of energy for the task, or a lack of energy generally.
- Prioritising other things.
- Feeling stressed or anxious and not feeling able to focus on the future.
- Feeling indecisive about what specifically to do.
You can think of the challenge like a seesaw:
On one side you have your goal: the positive intention, your self-control and motivation. The energy to get the thing done.
On the other side you have your blockers: a selection of the things on the list above. The things that are standing in your way.
To be able to move into action the seesaw needs to be weighted towards the former. Your motivation needs to outweigh the blockers.
So how can you tip the seesaw towards action?
If you find yourself procrastinating, think about your own reasons for putting the task off. What are your blockers? Be honest with yourself. It may help to write them down and reflect on why. How can you break them down? Can you break the goal into smaller more achievable tasks?
Also think about what energises you. Ensure you are focusing on the right goals for you. If you really don’t want to do something, why is it on your list at all? Can you delegate it? Can you outsource it? Maybe you should let it go. There is something hugely freeing about removing things from the to do list!
In my role as a Coach I help my clients achieve their coaching goals. I pride myself on helping them get to action. It’s OK that for some people it takes longer than others.
For more information about working with me visit my Invest page.