The main benefit of holding back from completing a task – particularly if it entails writing and submitting an article or a social media post – is that more time can result in a wiser and wider perspective.
I think of it as allowing something to 'percolate' in the mind and become more tasteful and potent.
Hurried eleventh hour or last minute jobs might stimulate our sense of challenge as we ride on the wave of adrenalin – but do they produce our best work and show us in the best light?
When I write a blog or article nowadays it takes time for at least three drafts – along with shuffling paragraphs and correcting any spelling and syntax errors which weren't even apparent to me earlier!
In this way, waiting and putting something off by allowing time to revisit, reflect and revise it can be a good thing!
However, if you've noticed that chronic procrastination has become a problem for you in different areas of your life, then you'll need to look a bit deeper and unearth the underlying reasons that you have been getting in your own way of getting a job done.
Why do we procrastinate?
There are several reasons, such as:-
Self-doubt – 'I'll probably make a mess of it anyway so I'll just leave it and see what happens.'
Fear – of the shame of failure if it's not done well enough.
Fear of being judged and maybe being ridiculed or even rejected.
Fear of success – 'What if I do a really good job? What will then be expected of me after that?'
Overwhelm – 'I just don't have time to do this today – maybe I'll have more time for it another day.' We all make time for what is important to us!
Perfectionism - 'It might not be perfect right now, so I'd better wait until I'm completely ready to do a perfect job of it.' That day can never come because there is no such thing as perfect!
Laziness and abdication of responsibility - 'I just can't be bothered - if I leave it someone else will do it instead.'
Ego and narcissism - 'It's beneath me...I shouldn't have to do this'; or 'I'm in charge and I'll do it when I'm good and ready.'
Learned behaviour – 'That's just what we all do in my family, and it doesn't really matter anyway.'
How do we manage it?
Become aware of, and understand, your own reason and make the firm decision to change an unhelpful pattern.
Put things into priority order each day – particularly if there are deadlines
The 5 Ps - allocate plenty of time to Plan, Prepare, Produce, Polish and Present your work or task.
Have someone to be accountable to. We are more likely to complete a task if we are reporting back on our progress.
Clear away distractions and minimise interruptions. These break our productive state of focus and 'flow' and it takes a while to get back into it.
No matter how humdrum the task or how resistant you are to completing it – remind yourself of the pleasure and relief that comes from crossing another thing off your to-do list!
Mind Over Matter – if it matters set your mind to doing it!
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy) MIND HEALER & MENTOR
If your tendency to procrastinate comes from your troubled childhood and perhaps difficult or even toxic shaming parents, you can get lots of FREE RESOURCES from this website to help you to understand, and begin to change that pattern and to heal and re-parent your inner child– www.maxineharley.com/free-resources
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