Meet Jessie. Jessie has a major project on the go. She was feeling excited and motivated to freshen up and paint the front entrance. She bought the paint, got her kids to clean out their shoes and winter gear, and she even recruited her partner to tape the edges. She was full of “piss and vinegar”, as my dad would say.
Then something happened. As she dug in, she began to feel overwhelmed with all of the “stuff”. So much “stuff”. She found toys from years past, Halloween decorations, a gift from a dear friend, old report cards, mismatched gloves and shoes, and pictures that she wasn’t sure if she should throw out or keep.
As she got deeper into the chore, she began to lose motivation. Should she keep that spring jacket that was a bit snug but sooooo cute and cost a fortune? What about the trendy shoes that she’d only worn ONCE, keep or donate?
It was all too much.
Jessie became paralyzed and beside herself with indecision. Stuff piling up around her, it seemed like things were getting messier, not cleaner. And the messier her house became, the mucky her mind was. Swirling. Overwhelmed. Feeling sick.
Her partner found her sitting on the floor, tears in her eyes, unable to explain why she was so emotional. It was a simple chore. Or was it?
Jessie is not a specific person that I know. Jessie is you and Jessie is me. Raise your hand if you know what I’m talking about.
I’m sure you’ve been in this predicament. You start off with great intentions and full of energy and then something happens. You lose steam. And, become paralyzed to finish (or maybe even start) a task.
Procrastinators make the important unimportant, and the unimportant, important.
Most people who procrastinate tell me they feel like they are lazy. Or, they say something is wrong with them.
Procrastinators are anything but lazy. Research shows that procrastinators often do more work than non-procrastinators. The only difference is, they spend most of their time doing the unimportant or less urgent tasks rather than the more time-sensitive and more important tasks first.
Procrastinators often under-estimate the amount of time something will take.
Jessie probably thought she could get the entire task done while the kids were at school and her partner was at work. When you begin to run out of time and steam, and panic sets in, it becomes harder to complete the task. Most of your energy becomes tied up in the worry and fear, rather than focused on the task.
Research shows that procrastinators think they can fit more tasks in a short time than non-procrastinators. I’m definitely guilty of trying to send a text message to someone when I’m supposed to leave the house in two minutes.
Procrastination is a very close cousin to perfectionism.
Jessie, rather than just painting the entrance, chose to clean out the deep corners, storage bins and other crevasses, rather than just focus on the painting. She wanted it done “RIGHT”. She wanted to be thorough. And, she thought it had to be done in a specific order: gut out stuff -> sort -> donate/ sell -> get sucked into Facebook Market Place -> organize -> clean -> wash walls -> tape -> primer -> colour coordinate -> cry
You get the picture. Again, raise your hand if this sounds like you? So how do you beat procrastination?
Just do it. Just start. Anywhere. Any small, tiny, itty bitty step. Know that it won’t be perfect and that’s ok. This is just a “first draft”, so to speak. You can go back later and fix anything that needs fixing.
Don’t wait to FEEL like you’re in the mood. It may never come. If it’s housework, the mood will never come. It’s only with taking ACTION that energy and motivation builds. So, go back to Step #1.
Don’t worry about doing it in a particular order. You might have to get someone to step in and just start the painting for you or better yet, paint with you. A helper can be someone to chat with to GET YOU OUT OF YOUR HEAD and into taking action. So, go back to Step #2.
Know that whatever amount you do is GOOD ENOUGH. Whether the chore is done or not, does not determine your worth. If you don’t finish the task, it means you are probably tired, or have done enough. It doesn’t mean you are less of a person. Make sure you separate out your behaviour from who you are as a human being.
Drop a note and let me know if any of this sounds like you. If you’re stuck in the spiral and beating yourself up, here’s a FREE GIFT to help you bring a bit of kindness to yourself: ESCAPE THE SELF-JUDGEMENT SH*T STORM: 4 Transformational Steps to Deeper Self-Compassion.
If you’d like to book a counselling or spiritual life coaching session to work on the deeper roots of procrastination, you can reach me at:
Create an AWESOME day!