I’ve been meaning to write about procrastination for a while, but I couldn’t seem to get around to it.
Now you’re wondering, “Was that a joke?” Or did she mean it? The answer is yes to both questions. But procrastination isn’t always amusing; it can cause real problems in our lives.
I don’t need to tell you why people procrastinate. If you procrastinate, you already know. In fact, making a list of reasons why we put things off is a fun thing to do. It’s much more fun than doing whatever we’ve been putting off. Come to think of it, pretty much anything is more fun than doing the things we’re putting off.
There’s an interesting tidbit, isn’t it? We seldom procrastinate about things we want to do. We don’t put off, “Let’s go for ice cream!” Procrastination kicks in for, “I need to get that paperwork done” or, “I need to have that uncomfortable conversation.”
Sadly, procrastination can diminish any satisfying feeling of having control over our lives. Those annoying undone tasks sit in the back of our minds, disturbing our peace.
If you want to shake off your procrastination, here are a couple of suggestions.
We’ve all heard that a journey begins with a single step. Sadly, it’s true. To get started, we have to start. What if the task seems so daunting that we don’t want to start? My suggestion is to think of the smallest possible step that you could take toward getting this nasty thing done. Then take it.
For example, say you are putting off making an uncomfortable phone call. The first step could be to write down the main points that you want to make. That may be enough for the first day.
The next step could be to anticipate objections that might come up. How might you respond? That’s the second day.
The third step is to contact the person and say, “I’d like to talk to you about xxx. Do you have a few minutes now?”
If they respond, “Yes” then this is your opportunity, isn’t it? Your notes are already prepared; give it your best.
The response might be, “No, not now.” Not a problem. Ask, “When is a good time?”
Of course, the response could be, “No. And I never want to talk about it.” OK! You have new information now, don’t you? Whether or not you choose to pursue the issue, you have learned something you wouldn’t have known without taking those first steps.
A second suggestion is to create a new habit. Choose a specific small timeslot to work on procrastinated tasks every day. If you do this consistently, even 10 or 15 minutes a day will inevitably have you making progress. I’m not suggesting you’ll get all of your procrastinated tasks done in 15 minutes a day, but you’ll be further along than if you didn’t spend that 15 minutes, won’t you?
Work your way, step by step, toward completing the task. You don’t need to take big, dramatic steps. When you take small steps consistently, in the right direction, you’ll have progress. It’s when you take no steps that you get nowhere.
Does procrastination have an impact on your life? How do you deal with it? Don’t put it off—let me know
Welcome to Reality Check:
articles and observations inspired by the work of Dr. William Glasser
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