The Honest Truth About Your Procrastinating

Procrastinating-Maybe Tomorrow

Procrastinating – we all do it from time to time on tasks that feel hard, confusing, challenging, or uncomfortable. However, if you find yourself engaged in a pattern of procrastinating then it’s time to dig in, investigate what’s motivating that pattern, and address it.

As I observe my six grands, it’s obvious that they love playing and creating. It’s not uncommon for them to become so absorbed in what they are doing they don’t even realize that you are asking them a question or, even worse, suggesting that it’s time to put everything away. When they do grasp that it’s time to clean up, it’s something they would prefer to delay!

As adults, in many ways we are very much like my grands although much more sophisticated in our methods of putting off what we don’t want to do. For my grands, interrupting the fun they are lost in – the playing or crafting – and cleaning up is often devastating.

While adults may be less dramatic in their putting off, we too resist doing important tasks, yet procrastination is often costly. It may even result in…

  • The failure to meet critical deadlines.
  • Missing out on opportunities.
  • Having to complete a task under pressure causing unnecessary stress.
  • Negatively impacting your happiness, confidence, and how you feel about yourself.
  • Triggering your fears.
  • Putting learning and growing off…sometimes indefinitely!

The Word

According to Merriam-Webster, the English word procrastinate is derived from the Latin prefix “pro-,” which means to move forward, and “crastinus,” which means moving or acting slowing so as to fall behind. In other words, procrastination is “putting off until tomorrow,” and we all know tomorrow never comes!

Big Questions: Awareness

In solving problems, awareness is a powerful first step! In your own life or work, what have you been putting off, avoiding, or procrastinating on? Here are some other questions to ask yourself:

  • What patterns have you noticed when it comes to the procrastinating in your life and work?
  • Are there specific tasks you procrastinate at or are there themes to your procrastinating? For example, do you put off tasks that are big and require multiple steps or do you resist doing tasks that are solo in nature?
  • Do you drag your feet when it comes to tasks that you aren’t sure where to begin?
  • What tasks have you been putting off because you fear failing?

Knowing what it is about the task that causes you to procrastinate is helpful!

The Real Problem

According to Dr. Pychyl, professor of psychology and member of the Procrastination Research Group at Carlton University in Ottawa, “Procrastination is an emotion regulation problem, not a time management problem.” That suggests that you aren’t lazy or apathetic, which is probably music to your ears, but what is “emotional regulation” and how do you solve that problem?

Emotional regulation is the ability to recognize, manage, and respond to your emotions. So, when you lack the ability to push through challenging emotions, resisting tasks that evoke unpleasant feelings follows. Thus, you procrastinate!

The Solution!

What’s the key to procrastinating no more? Practice! Doing hard and uncomfortable tasks, noticing the feelings, accepting them, but not allowing your feelings to keep you from doing the necessary tasks. And keep on practicing!

While that sounds simple, I won’t pretend that it’s easy!

The Fear Factor

If you are like most people, fear is one of the negative emotions you would prefer to avoid. There are a host of fears that fall into that bucket including the fear of…

Of course, your Fear Monster fits in this bucket too!

What fears that are contributing to your pattern of procrastinating? How might you challenge the beliefs that are fueling those fears?

Less Obvious Procrastination

While you may appear to be ultra-productive, that doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t a procrastinator. I know – I’ve operated under the illusion of dutifully doing the tasks on my list, yet not actually doing the difficult tasks that would contribute to the bottom line of my business. In others words, it’s possible to keep busy while choosing to do lower priority tasks over more important tasks.

Procrastinating is also allowing non-essential emails, texts, and/or social media to divert your attention from what’s truly most important. While you are getting work done, there’s plenty of room to increase your productivity, especially on more important matters!

Busy is procrastinating on your priorities/values – what’s supposed to be most important to you.

Some Food for Thought

I challenge you to dig deep and explore where procrastination is showing up in your life. As you do that, here are some enlightening questions to ask yourself:

  1. How do I feel about the tasks that aren’t getting done?
  2. What “rewards” am I getting from delaying action?
  3. What opportunities have I been missing out on as a result of procrastinating?
  4. Do I really want/need to do the tasks I’ve been putting off?
  5. What makes the tasks I’ve been putting off important to me?
  6. What do I need to learn that would make the tasks I’ve been avoiding easier?
  7. What resources, assistance, etc. would make the tasks more possible?
  8. Who could I delegate or source out this task to or is it something only I can do?
  9. What would make this task more fun or enjoyable?

Procrastinating Is A Choice

“Time is a created thing. To say, ‘I don’t have time’ is to say ‘I don’t want to’” – Lao Tzu

Essentially, when you put something off, you are choosing in that moment to not feel the negative feels. However, by delaying the task, you may actually be compounding the negative feelings you’ll experience later.

Procrastinating is a choice. Is it time to coax yourself into taking a baby step and starting whatever you’ve been putting off?

Do Yourself A Favor!

If you determine that what you’ve been putting off is ultimately not that important to you and the cost of not doing it is minimal, maybe it’s time to remove that task from your list. Lingering tasks are discouraging while proactively choosing to eliminate something on your list – that’s empowering.

On the other hand, if what you’ve been putting off is something you deem worthy of your time and effort then fight for it!

Life is full and making excuses is easy! Unless you make the choice to confront the truth, whatever is holding you back will remain invisible. It will continue to keep you from embracing all that God has for you.

Next Steps

After pondering the questions above here are some next steps to take:

1. Set A Goal

Be sure to write your goal down. At minimum, make sure it is Specific, Measurable and Time-Bound – especially time bound! Or make it SMARTER (Specific, Measurable, Action, Risky/Relevant, Time-Bound, Evaluate, Re-Adjust) Without a deadline you are likely to keep on procrastinating.

2. Make a Plan

Create a strategy for completing your task. Break your goal down into manageable steps and plot those milestones on your calendar. If you aren’t sure how to break down your goal, that’s an ideal opportunity to get the help of a coach!

Don’t forget include some ways to make the task more fun and enjoyable in your plan, including the way you choose to think about the task. How will you reframe your task – get crazy creative and see whatever you’ve been avoiding from a whole new perspective?

3. Track Your Progress

Tracking the action steps that will ensure steady progress is key! Here are some examples of what you might consider tracking:

      • Time: The hours devoted to the big task.
      • Prospecting: The number of calls you make or people you reach out to.
      • Specific steps: Create an outline, write the 5 chapters, create the cover, etc.

It’s helpful to track in a visual way – something you can glance at and see the progress you are making or are not making.

4. Create Accountability

Enlist the help of a friend, family member, or coach – someone who knows what you’re trying to accomplish that will periodically check-in on your progress, encourage you, and celebrate with you.

5. Include God

I need God’s help all the time, but especially with tasks or projects that I’m procrastinating on. Trusting Him allows me to get started and let go of the outcome because I know that no matter what happens I’m deeply loved by Him.

Where would you be if you weren’t procrastinating?

“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” -Mark Twain

Marvae Eikanas

Marvae Eikanas is an author, entrepreneur, ICF certified coach, Career Direct Consultant, DISC consultant, and HBDI practitioner. She helps her coaching clients sharpen their skills, face their fears, eliminate funky mindsets, hone their habits, and cultivate clarity so they can THRIVE personally and professionally. Schedule a consultation with Marvae here.

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