Today's post is going to be short and sweet. In honor of getting 'er done. I've ironically delayed this post for five days, but, as fits the argument to follow, I had actually valid reasons for doing so. It started with realizing that Friday was not a day that most people are wrestling with their procrastination habits. And nor would that be Saturday or Sunday. And, Monday is the day I write about Healthy Habits for the week. So, that got me to today, Tuesday.
What's the point I'm driving at?
There's a reason behind my - and your - procrastination. Ignore it at your peril.
Procrastination often leads to feelings of guilt and frustration. Why am I doing this to myself? I really need to do that thing...yesterday...but, I'll do it tomorrow...seriously, I will...but, also, seriously ugh, I probably won't. I need to be more on top of my life, more like [fill in the blank with friend/coworker/person who comes across as incredibly put together and proactive].
I have realized that this level of guilt is unwarranted and, unsurprisingly, really not helping anything. You are procrastinating for a reason. And if you can delve into your motivations for delaying, you can address the driver of your procrastination.
Okay, so how to do that? Here are some examples that have worked for me.
My first favorite things to procrastinate are things that feel daunting. I find myself delaying and delaying doing X - say, sending wedding save the dates, and then I realize, I'm delaying this because it feels too big. My reason is simply this-feels-too-big-to-do. For these, I like to think of one of my favorite books, Bird by Bird, and break the work into steps, and take it step by step, or bird by bird. To take off the pressure, I start by saying, all you have to do is the first step today. That's it. Or, if I have to write something, I say, you just have to write for 15 minutes. Almost across the board, once I'm rolling, I keep going and I've beaten the issue.
My second favorite things to procrastinate are to dos that I'm not sure how to actually do. I find myself putting these tasks off and then eventually say, okay, what's the deal? And the deal is that I don't know how to do this thing - that's my reason for delaying. Usually once I drill into it I realize there's a straightforward question or tension I'm battling. Like, I'm feeling this conflict between wanting to be helpful to a friend and needing to operate a business, and am not sure which instinct to indulge. For these, it depends what I'm procrastinating but my favorite solution is to dial in a friend or coworker who might have a perspective.
So, here's to skipping the guilt phase of the procrastination cycle. Instead, recognize that we are putting something off for a reason, and that once we understand that reason we can unblock ourselves better than any guilt could.