How To Overcome Procrastination and Relieve Stress
November 24, 2016
One of the common issues that many of my clients want to overcome is procrastination. When the important things aren’t getting done and the to-do list keeps growing, it is frustrating to feel like you will never be on top of things.
Is life driving you or are you driving your life?
As the holiday season approaches, it is a time of year that can be far too busy with a “to-do list” that seems way too long. Tasks, responsibilities, and demands keep piling up, and sometimes it is easy to loose perspective.
If procrastination is a pattern that is familiar to you, chances are that when responsibility piles up, you may find yourself putting things off to cope. However, in the end, this is the cause of a world of overwhelm. Being, mindful of this is important to create change.
Is procrastinating a habit in your life?
Habits are patterns that we adopt and do over a period of time that become familiar to us. They are the way that we end up ‘doing life’ because our brains are hardwired for following these. Yet when something is not working of us in our lives, like procrastinating, it is important to step back and reevaluate. It takes awareness and courage to interrupt old patterns and change them.
Let me tell you a story where procrastination created an enormous amount of stress in my life.
In my college years, I had to learn how to deal with the demands of my studies, the endless school work--- term papers, requirements and exams. I had the best intentions to stay on top of things, however the to-do list often was overwhelming and I fell into the trap of putting things off. This led to me cramming to get everything done right before the deadlines. Year after year during each semester, I found myself procrastinating and doing the same thing over and over again. Cramming to get everything done into a short block of time was intense and stressful. Why was it that even though I had vowed that I would not let history repeat itself, it did! While it came at the huge cost of lack of sleep, stress, anxiety and overwhelm, why was it that this was something I continued to repeatedly do?
It was years later that I acknowledged that I had developed the habit of procrastination. It was showing up in various areas of my life
When examining why I continued to repeat this detrimental behaviour I discovered that there were underlying beliefs driving it. Perfectionism, needing to get things right, a fear of failure and self-doubt were some of the underlying causes. Realizing this was not working for me, I knew I had to make changes in my life.
Is this something that you can relate to? Have you found yourself in situations where the habit of procrastination interferes in your life?
Many of the habits in our life are something that we repeatedly do that we aren’t even conscious of.
Possibly you may have found yourself in a situation where you were dealing with a task that was difficult, so you put things off not knowing why. Or there were too many things on your dreaded to-do list that you didn’t want to do, so you chose not to do them. Maybe you were dealing with a task that demanded too much time so you decided to put it off and do it ‘someday’. Maybe you found yourself in a situation where you were unsure of yourself and uncertain that you would ‘get it’ or ‘do it right’, so you procrastinated to avoid the discomfort.
When we procrastinate is something deeper going on?
What I discovered is that there were reasons for my procrastination. Often the issue is not so much about the to-do list--- it is about our perspective and how we choose to deal with things.
For example, let’s go back to my college years. As history kept repeating itself, what was really going on? I was pushing things off because I was fearful, felt insecure and doubted myself. At times, I did feel incompetent and struggled with a lack of self-confidence. At the root of the procrastination issue, there was definitely something more going on.
That is why it is important to examine WHY we procrastinate and to take responsibility. Procrastination is a psychological behaviour that has an impact. It can be a major source of anxiety and stress and it is important to have the courage to change it!
AWARENESS IS KEY
At this busy time of year, with the endless amount of things there are to do, be aware of how you procrastinate. We all do it in one way or another. Catch yourself when you procrastinate, and be willing to make changes to avoid going down the path of overwhelm.
Be mindful to:
See it in the moment when it happens.
Identify the beliefs that drive it - Is it fear, insecurity or doubt? What is it?
Evaluate the cost - Is procrastinating working for you or is it actually working against you? What is the impact?
Think about how to deal with things and choose not to procrastinate - How does this benefit you? What is the reward?
Make a choice to be empowered - Commit to a plan that works for you to stay on top of your game and keep moving forward!
For me this means making a list of the priorities that need to get done and to simplify things by remembering what is most important.
How I do this--- I have a timeline of when I will do it and I schedule it in my calendar.
I make a solid commitment to follow through with my commitments no matter what. When there are too many things on the to-do list, I realize that it is important to admit it. I remind myself that asking for help is not a weakness, it is a strength. Delegating responsibility is a wonderful strategy and people really do love to help.
What will you do to help you through this busy season?
Take responsibility to be your best and not allow the ‘procrastination gremlin’ to distract you. There will be less stress through the holiday season and the load will feel much lighter.
Life Is Short - Live It