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Procrastination 3

So, you have read the other two blog posts about procrastination and you have decided to do something about it. Where now? A good place to start is to forgive yourself for past procrastination. Draw a line under it and commit to change.

As Napoleon Hill (American Author) said, “Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday”. And it’s important to remember that procrastination is a habit (deeply ingrained pattern of behaviour) and as a result it will take time and practice to break it. But here are some strategies to help you break the habit and open up a world of decisiveness, alacrity and élan.

Firstly, prepare for the task. Make sure you understand what needs to be done and that you have all you need to complete it. Write down all the sub tasks and how long they will take. Once you have this you can commit to the task wholeheartedly.

How do you feel about the task? Do you feel put upon or obliged to do the task? Reframing the task or rephrasing the internal dialog can help. If you need to or have to do something that suggests you have no choice. This can result in self sabotage or feelings of disempowerment. Saying ‘I choose to’ do something means you own the project, have control and are invested. What are the long term benefits, meaning or relevance of doing the task? Will it make your life easier, or your home nicer or get you a promotion at work?

Try to keep distractions to a minimum – turn off the phone, social media, etc. It’s OK if you like to work with the TV or radio on, but that can’t be the focus of your activities. You may want to have someone check-up on you. Never underestimate the power of peer / social pressure or not wanting to disappoint someone. This is at the heart of how support groups work.

When you have completed something promptly and on time, give yourself a small reward yourself. Remember how it feels to have accomplished something – pride, relief, etc. Try to act in the moment and tackle tasks as they come up rather than doing them another time and risk them building up.

Now we all find some tasks less enjoyable than others. Rather than splitting these tasks out and putting them to one side, a mix of nice tasks and less interesting or unpleasant tasks will help to keep things moving. If there are many unpleasant tasks, then perhaps get these out of the way first thing. This will then allow you to concentrate on more enjoyable tasks.
Now, I don’t agree that being disorganised is the same as procrastination. But as we are here, I am going to suggest some strategies to overcome this. Firstly, have a prioritised To-Do list. This will give you an instant view of what you have to do. It will prevent you from forgetting about tasks and will help you decide what to do next and what can be left until later.

It’s key to understand the difference between urgent and important. An important task has severe consequences if it’s not done, but is not necessary urgent. An urgent task needs to be done soon, but it not necessary important. Sadly, some tasks are both.

Think about when are you at your best? Perhaps in the morning or just after lunch. If you are not sure, take some time to find out. When do you have most energy or focus? Tackle your hardest or the most complex tasks at your peak times .

Set yourself deadlines to do specific tasks. These time-bound tasks will keep you on track to achieve your goals, and will cut down time for procrastination. If you feel overwhelmed or disheartened a useful idea is to break the task down into smaller, more manageable chucks.

What is the limit of your concentration? Perhaps try ten to fifteen minutes periods of activity. These quick / small wins will boost your confidence, make you feel less overwhelmed and give you a sense of achievement.

One final suggestion is to use technology. There are many task / time management applications depending on what you are doing. Becoming better at scheduling and project planning will have many benefits. And these sorts of tools can help you be more effective.

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Procrastination2

I wrote a little while ago about procrastination. And while I thought it was a bit of fun, after some feedback I see it’s a real problem for some people. So, I have decided to write a new blog to help you decide whether you are really procrastinating or is it something else. I will then write a new blog with real advice for procrastinators. Don’t worry, the irony is not lost on me that it will take three blog posts to get to the good stuff.

The first thing is to realise you are procrastinating. Changing prioritises are a fact of life, but if you keep putting things off or switch focus because you want to avoid doing something, then you are procrastinating. Other signs are filling your day with low-priority tasks, having important items on your to-do list for a long time, starting a high-priority task and then stopping or if you need to be in right mood or wait for the right time to tackle something.
Next you need to understand the reasons why you are not doing the task. Note, I did not ask why you are procrastinating. Perhaps there is another reason. For instance, are you avoiding a task because you find it boring or unpleasant? If so, take a deep breath and get it out of the way quickly and then focus on the aspects that you do enjoy.

Poor organisation can lead to delayed tasks and missed deadlines. Well organised people successfully overcome this by using prioritised to-do lists, plans and schedules. Even if you’re organised, you can still become overwhelmed by a task. If this is the case, seek help with the task.

Another factor to consider is poor decision making. If you can’t decide what to do, you can’t start. Or you put off taking action worried you might do it wrong. Maybe you doubt your abilities and worry you might fail, so you put it off and stay in your comfort zone. But this lack of confidence is denying you the chance to learn and grow.

Also, it can be easy to confuse perfectionism and procrastination. As Jen Sincero (US Writer and Coach) said, “Perfectionism and procrastination have such a fine line. You say, ‘Well, I want it to be good. I want it to be perfect.’ But what you’re really doing is not doing your work. You’re putting off showing up and being visible because then you’re going to be judged, and it might suck”. Many perfectionists are also procrastinators. They would rather not do a task than do it imperfectly.

For some, procrastination is not a bad habit but a symptom of a serious underlying health issue. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), anxiety and depression can make you procrastination. If this is the case, then these causes need addressing.

If you are suffering from low confidence, anxiety or depression then Hypnotherapy can help. Contact me to find out more.

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Procrastination

I have been meaning to write about procrastination for some time now, but haven’t got around to it. So, for those of you that don’t know what procrastination means… Postpone, delay, put off, hesitate, dawdle, protract, dilly-dally, haver, tarry, avoid, duck, elude, dodge, sidestep, evade, shirk, dither, shilly-shally.

OK, enough now. I think you get the message. I was never the sort of child who would do their homework at the start of the holidays. I would inevitably do it just before I was due to go back to school. We are probably all familiar with the creeping sense of dread as a deadline approaches. If we delay long enough, perhaps this will be replaced by a rising panic as we realise just how little time there is left. The prospect of embarrassment or failing finally gets us to start focusing and working on the task at hand. And, ultimately, that’s OK. There are no prizes for doing it early as long as it gets done, right?

Well, this applies to many tasks. But what did you do with the time you procrastinated? If it was something useful or productive then you could argue it’s not procrastination merely prioritisation. Or did you use the time to create a Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) bee photo and post it on social media? As Christopher Parker (British Actor) said, “Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill”.

This is bad enough, but what about tasks that don’t have a deadline? Things you should do or would like to do, but no one will pick you up on it if you don’t do it. Perhaps learning a skill that will help you change careers or taking up a new hobby. Mark Twain once said, “We regret the things we don’t do more than the things we do”.

Now procrastination is not laziness. Procrastination is an active decision in that you choose to do something else instead of the task you should be doing. Laziness, in contrast, implies apathy, inactivity and an unwillingness to act. It normally involves delaying an unpleasant task in favour of one that is more enjoyable or easier.

Giving in to this impulse can have serious consequences for you. Minor cases of procrastination can make us feel guilty or ashamed, effecting our self-esteem. Longer periods can over time lead to demotivation and disillusionment with our work, which can cause burnout, depression and even job loss, in severe cases.

Procrastination is a trap we can all fall into. In fact, according to researcher and speaker Piers Steel (Professor at the Haskayne School of Business), 95% of us procrastinate to some degree. While it may be comforting to know that you’re not alone, it can be sobering to realise just how much it can hold you back.

Now when I get a chance I intend to write a follow up blog post about how to overcome procrastination. But then I did get so many likes for that bee photo, perhaps I will try to surpass that first.

If you procrastinate or struggle to focus on key tasks then Hypnotherapy can help. Hypnotherapy can help with exploring the root cause of a problem, breaking habits, will power and support. If you feel this could be for you, then contact me.