Monday, February 4, 2008

Serenity Tip: Facing Procrastination

We've all done it: We've cruised around our favorite message boards and silly Web sites, organized our desk, done laundry--anything but the task in front of us.

And then, if you're the least bit conscientious, you spend another few hours beating yourself for your lost productivity. Obviously, this can kill your serenity, and become an endless cycle.

So my gentle nudge of the day is to embrace your procrastination.

There are a few reasons to do this: First, if you're in a creative field, chances are your procrastination is part of your process. I have to constantly remind myself can also be another way of saying that I'm working out fine points or organizing thoughts subconsciously. It'll pass.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, if you don't accept it, your resistance will be worse than the procrastination itself.

So how do you get comfortable with it--and then overcome it? Start by getting to know why you're resisting in the first place. What's the fear? What's the anxiety?

Face it. And then assess what's realistic. It may also help to track your time to see what's taking you the longest and how you're really spending your time. You may find that what feels like procrastination to you is actually a reasonable amount of time to spend taking care of other, important items, like your spirituality or admin work.

If you find you still can't get yourself to work, procrastination might be a serious problem for you. In that case, consider these tips care of Procrastinators Anonymous:

Break It Down: Break down projects into specific action steps; include preparation tasks in the breakdown.

Visualization: Plan what to do, then imagine yourself doing it. The more specific and vivid your visualization, the better. See yourself doing the task, and doing it well.

Focus on Long-Term Consequences: Procrastinators have a tendency to focus on short-term pleasure, and shut out awareness of long-term consequences. Remind yourself how panicked and awful you'll feel if the task isn't done, then imagine how good it will feel when the task is finished.

Avoid Time Bingeing: One reason procrastinators dread starting is that once they start they don't let themselves stop. Plan to work on a task for a defined period of time, then set a timer. When the timer goes off, you're done.

Use Small Blocks of Time: Procrastinators often have trouble doing tasks in incremental steps, and wait for big blocks of time that never come. When you have small blocks of time, use them to work on the task at hand.

Avoid Perfectionism: Procrastinators have a tendency to spend more time on a task than it warrants, so tasks that should be quick to do take an agonizingly long time. Notice this tendency and stop yourself. Some things require completion, not perfection.

Develop Routines: To help structure your day and make a habit of things you always need to do, develop routines for what you do when you wake up, regular tasks of your workday, and what you need to do before going to bed.

Bookend Tasks and Time: Use the Bookending board on the P.A. Web site to check in throughout the day, or at the beginning or end of specific tasks you are dreading.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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