If something was going to cause you to suffer, you wouldn’t choose to do it, right?
Maybe you’d just put it off, think about it, mull it over, pop a wash on, make a brew, walk the dog, decide you’ll do it tomorrow, think “maybe it’s not even that important”?
Hello, Queen of Procrastination here and I’ve just described my morning!
Yep, I have been procrastinating about the very act of writing a blog on procrastination. WHY? Because I’m so passionate about the topic and the impact it has on our work happiness, I’m scared I won’t do it justice.
WHAT ACTUALLY IS PROCRASTINATION
Is procrastination just a fancy word for being lazy, will a time management course sort it or does it in fact, go a bit deeper than that?
Let’s turn to the world of psychology where experts define it as:
“the voluntary delay of some important task that we intend to do, despite knowing that we’ll suffer as a result.”
WE KNOW WE WILL SUFFER, BUT WE DECIDE TO DELAY ANYWAY?
WTF, that’s bonkers, right?
Yet despite studying this phenomenon and knowing the techniques that help us overcome it, I even run a 20 minute session every week to help others overcome procrastination and plan a happy and productive week…..there are tasks in my business where I majorly procrastinate – writing this bloody blog being one of them!!
I’m pretty sure I’m not lazy. I’ve worked through all the productivity techniques, apps, lists, bought all the fancy planners, timers…you name it, I have it. So, what is going on?
A BIT OF BRAIN GEEKERY!
Our brains like to keep us safe. It’s their primary function. We run from things we deem will make us suffer and we seek out the things that feel good. That should mean that we realise that procrastination will make us suffer and get into action, knowing that will make us feel better, right?
Not always. And herein lies the problem…The negativity bias of our thinking means we are much more likely to ruminate about what may go wrong, than envisage what may go right! So, returning to my writing of this blog, my thinking could determine that it may flop! That no one would be interested, or good old imposter syndromemay kick in thinking “who I am to write about this?”. Perfectionism traits could appear thinking “is this the very best piece of writing I can do, perhaps I need to read/learn more”.
Back to the brain. This negative thinking or rumination can trigger the limbic system, activating the fear response. You have probably heard of the fight or flight response to fear, they also have another unhelpful partner in crime…freeze. So, when we feel fear, often at a totally subconscious level, we freeze.
The executive functioning part of our brain shuts down – it’s the powerhouse that aids concentration, helps you prioritise, make decisions, think clearly, plan and self-regulate. The stress hormone, cortisol is released and suddenly, we are feeling pretty crappy.
So, we run, we avoid and we seek out things that will make us feel better. We pick up our phones and scroll, decide we need to urgently have a brew, we lean towards something that feels comfortable and safe.
The result being the job doesn’t get done. Then, not satisfied with feeling a little bit shit, we go all in and invite other unhelpful emotions to the pity party…guilt and shame bringing their awkward friend anxiety. Round we go stuck in an unhelpful cycle of feeling rubbish!
Research boffins suggest that 20% of the population are what they term “chronic procrastinators” turning putting it off until tomorrow into a way of living spanning all domains of their lives and often having significant negative impacts on well-being. Whilst I don’t identify procrastination in all domains in my life or my business, I can see a pattern where I am just getting in my own way, and I also see how that impacts my sense of work happy well-being!
Expert, Joseph Ferrari goes as far as to say here “to tell the chronic procrastinator to just do it would be like saying to a clinically depressed person, cheer up.”
WANT THE GOOD NEWS?
Thanks to our good pal neuroplasticity, we can change how we think, feel, and behave, but the spoiler here, as I am learning all too well is that it isn’t easy. But I am on a mission to prove that overcoming procrastination is something that can be ticked off the things to do list!
I am passionate and committed to helping my clients (and my kids!) get out of their own way and achieve their goals. I do this through my 121 coaching, taking a cognitive behavioural coaching approach. Together we’ll work out where your thinking patterns are getting in the way, determine your procrastination type and I’ll support you both in session and with interventions that you can work on (alongside me!!) to kick procrastination in the areas where it is standing between you and what you really want!
Click here if you want to have a quick chat about how I can help!
Goal Getter’s Gang is my way to kick start my own working week with an inspiring gang of women – think of it as a team huddle with an ace team, where I prompt you to shine a light on the good stuff from the week gone by, reflect (kindly) on the tricky moments, pick your focus for the week, break down the overwhelm, ask for help and set some exciting rewards! In just 20 mins you will have a plan of action, with prompts and ideas inspired by positive psychology, be inspired by the gang and ready to kick into action. If you fancy staying on, I then run a 30 min Co-Working Sprint. Come and join us….
Pop to Insta and have a look at this quick video where I explain how to sprint work.
For a funny, inspiring take on procrastination…I think this Ted Talk is the BEST!