I’m a life coach who struggles with procrastination.
Not with everything I do — but with enough that sometimes I feel like a fraud advising my clients on their procrastination problems. But after working with some very successful people and talking to several well-known coaches, I realize that many of us suffer from some form of procrastination, frequently.
There’s a lot of internet advice on beating procrastination most of which works for me for a few days or a week and then I’m back to procrastinating. So what am I going to do?
I’ve come to think of my procrastination like an alcoholic thinks of their alcoholism. My procrastinating behavior will always be with me. I will always need to be mindful — but I can learn to manage it.
Sometimes we know exacting what we’re procrastinating — filing taxes for instance or cleaning the house but other times we procrastinate and we’re not even in touch with it. We’re checking our email telling ourselves we’re doing business when in fact, we’re procrastinating some task.
So how do you get in touch with your procrastinator?
Start with several basic questions:
- What are you procrastinating? Why?
- Ask yourself again, why? Whatever your answer, ask yourself why, again?
- What is your procrastination doing for you? Are you afraid of something?
- Often, procrastination is keeping us safe from some emotion. What?
- Are you afraid of being found out? Being vulnerable? Is your ego at risk?
- Are there any patterns in your procrastination? Do certain tasks or people trigger your procrastination?
- How does your procrastination show up?
Getting in touch with the real answers to some of these questions can help you manage your procrastination.
If you know — or suspect — you’re a procrastinator, I’d recommend getting a copy of Dr. Timothy A. Pychyl’s Solving the Procrastination Puzzle: A Concise Guide to Strategies for Change.
I rarely privilege one book, but in this case I urge you to get this short missive. It’s about 100 pages and worth every cent. (I owe thanks to my fellow coach and mentor, Tim Brownson at CoachTheLifeCoach.com for turning me on to this book.)
A combination of practical advice based upon clinical research, Pychyl’s book is exactly what it says it is — a concise instruction manual with practical tips for anyone struggling with procrastination. It’s a gem — well-worth the investment if you want to begin to understand why you’re procrastinating — and do something about it!
Dr. Pychyl is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada where his research is focused on procrastination and its relation to personal well-being.
Solving the Procrastination Puzzle is based upon a series of blog posts Pychyl wrote several years ago for Psychology Today. His book is divided into 10 brief chapters covering the following ideas:
1. What is procrastination? Why does it matter?
— “All Procrastination is delay, buy not all delay is procrastination.”
2. Is Procrastination Really a Problem? What are the Costs of Procrastinating?
— “Procrastinating is failing to get on with life itself.”
3. What’s the Most Important Thing We Need to Know About Procrastination?
— “I won’t give in to feel good. Feeling good now comes at a cost.”
4. Why We Won’t Feel Like It Tomorrow
— “I won’t feel more like doing it tomorrow.”
5. Excuses and Self-Deception: How Our Thinking Contributes to Our Procrastination
— “I need to be aware of my rationalizations.”
6. The Power of Getting Started
— “Just get started.”
7. Why Getting Started Isn’t the Whole Solution
— “I need to be prepared to deal with distractions, obstacles, and setbacks.”
8. Willpower, Willpower: If We Only Had the Willpower
— “Willpower is a limited resource that I need to use strategically.”
9. What’s Bred in the Bone: Personality and Procrastination
— “My personality might put me at risk, but I can adapt.”
10. Cyberslacking on the Procrastination superhighway
— “ ‘It will only take a minute’ puts me on the slippery slope toward procrastination.”
If you’re still procrastinating and not sure you want to invest in the book, here are additional resources to check out — though be aware they may feed your procrastination!
Dr. Pychyl Lecture: Helping Students Who Procrastinate (video)
TED Talk video I’ve mentioned before: Tim Urban’s: Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator. It is sooooo worth the procrastination!
Are you procrastinating? Send me an email at Heidi@TheLiterarySalon.com