The warm, lazy days of summer can be the perfect season to foster procrastination. Do you, like me, identify as a procrastinator? I used to call myself a functioning procrastinator. I always turned out quality work, got things done, and was convinced the impending doom of a deadline was the only way I could be motivated.
My go-to procrastination move was and is cleaning. If I’m deep-cleaning, chances are I’m avoiding something. Now, instead of beating myself up for this activity, I have reframed it as a necessary step in my process. Cleaning allows me to declutter my mind, move my body, and prepare me for the action that will follow. Cleaning is now a welcome step in my creative process.
How is procrastination affecting your life? Are you a miserable person to be around leading up to deadlines? Do other projects or tasks get in the way? Does motivation without time pressure feel impossible? Do you constantly beat yourself up for delaying? What would your life look and feel like if you didn’t procrastinate?
Words like joy, peace and calm come to mind. Where there is procrastination there is often resistance. Bringing awareness to that resistance allows us to create a plan to conquer it.
It is also important to look at the relationship we have with procrastination. My relationship with it created a verbally abusive inner voice. It was negative and unhealthy. I was constantly frustrated and didn’t trust myself to change. Is that the kind of relationship you want to be in?
Personally, I want to be in a loving, trusting and supportive relationship with myself. Before I could create a plan to tackle my procrastination, I had to change how I viewed it. We are much more motivated and energized to execute when we have a positive connection, rather than a negative one. How can you change your relationship to your procrastination to be more loving and positive?
Sometimes we avoid things because we straight up don’t like what we’re doing, and we dread the entire process. Sometimes we delay things because we don’t actually care about what we’re doing. And sometimes we procrastinate because we care deeply. Is there a theme or a pattern you recognize to the things you put off accomplishing?
If the thing you are avoiding is something you dread or don’t care about, is it something you need to be doing? Can you outsource it, or get rid of it completely? Be honest with yourself as you answer these questions. If you can’t get rid of it entirely, how do you give yourself the support you need to complete the task? Maybe you don’t love the task; can you pair it with something you do love?
If the thing you are avoiding is something you care deeply about, how do you step back from the outcome and focus on the process? So often we get tied up in the result — what we want to do or what others will think puts us in a holding pattern. We have made the outcome so big we don’t even know where to start to achieve it.
When we put more weight on the process than the outcome, we take the pressure off ourselves. In the process, we can ask ourselves how do we want to feel, what is important to me, why am I doing this? By asking yourselves these questions, you get more intentional. Making the time to check-in with yourself during the process gives you room to center yourself and your needs in the moment. If all else fails, my favorite question to ask is how can this be more fun?
Last, we have to drop the Nike method. Being told by others and ourselves to “just do it” is entirely unhelpful and in fact can be harmful.
You know yourself better than anyone. This is an invitation to get curious and experiment with what works and doesn’t work for you. It is important to honor what you need and give yourself permission to release the pressure and guilt you’re putting on yourself. Being someone that procrastinates does not make you a bad person who needs to be fixed. Remember, whatever action you take or don’t take, you are a beautiful, imperfect human worthy of joy, peace and success — whatever form that takes.
Arissan Nicole is a certified life coach and speaker specializing in women’s empowerment. She lives in Lakebay.
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