Why you should break up with your frenemy: 'Procrastination'.
By Veronica Merry.
Lately, a lot of people that I speak to who have taken on the challenge of study in an already busy life seem to have one thing in common: a toxic friend or ‘frenemy’ called ‘procrastination'. You know who he is. He’s the thought that pops into your head just when you’ve sat down with your steaming cup of coffee, ready to work and says: "you’ve got time to watch the latest episode of ‘The Bachelor’ you’ll be more refreshed and relaxed if you watch it – DO IT!". Or worse she's that meanie who says - ‘'you can’t do this, you don’t even know where to start..." 🙁
Before you know it, a couple of hours have passed, and you still haven’t started.
Why do we Procrastinate?
To open up this old chestnut it helps to look at the 3 main types of procrastinators: the adrenalin junkie, the work avoider and the decision dodger.
1) The adrenalin junkie: this procrastinator waits until dangerously close to the due date to start working because they like feeling the pressured rush that comes from leaving things to the last minute.
2) The work avoider: this procrastinator avoids starting the task like the plague and will come up with ANY excuse not to. So better not to even start... just in case.
3) The decision dodger: this procrastinator cannot make a decision, because not making a decision enables an avoidance of responsibility for the outcome of events.
Procrastination and the addiction to busyness
Another catalyst of procrastination is society’s addiction to busyness. ‘I know I need to get started on that massive project, but I’ve got all these other jobs I need to do first or I won’t be able to concentrate’. I have fallen into this trap, more times than I care to admit.
Tricks I use to break up with Procrastination
I have gotten much better at identifying and breaking the habit of procrastination by using a prioritising technique I have combined from two different sources:
According to David Rock, it’s crucial to spend time at the beginning of each day writing down the most critical tasks to achieve, and prioritising them in order of importance. This enables the brain to be cleared as you don’t have to ‘hold’ the information in mind anymore and boosts performance.
I take this process a step further by allocating the tasks to ‘to-do’ and 'not-to-do' lists, numbered in order of priority which is underpinned by Tim Ferriss’ 80/20 rule (80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts). I think about the reasons causing procrastination and write them down under the ‘not-to-do' list. E.g., I might have the motherload of washing to fold and it just keeps on piling up. But, it is a lower priority than starting my project – so it goes on the ‘not-to-do’ list. Or it could be an emotion I am feeling about the task- like not knowing where to start. I continue doing this until I have accounted for every urgent task that is clouding my thinking and causing the procrastination.
Once I identify the root causes of procrastination and write it down, it’s a great and weird feeling. My brain says ‘you haven’t forgotten about it Veronica, you will get to it - it’s just a lower priority than your project right now’.
What methods have you used to break up with your frenemy Procrastination?
About the Author
Veronica Merry (MerryCoach) is passionate about helping people and organisations learn, adapt and evolve to achieve their vision. Veronica has over 17 years’ experience in designing and delivering learning programs across a broad range of disciplines including organisation development, change management, leadership and performance development, mentoring and coaching. Contact Veronica to help you design and deliver your next organisational development program.