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Procrastination; here I am, once again, agonising about a few measly sentences.
Why is it so hard? Why can’t I just write and be satisfied that it will be fine? What exactly is my problem with just getting this quite small thing done?
Procrastination is so painful. It makes you boil with anger or frustration. Or it makes you anxious and depressed. You feel so inadequate for being unable to just do it. I know it happens to everyone. But surely we should have learned or been taught at school how to overcome it if it is such a universal problem?
Every time it happens to me, I vow that I won’t agonise this time. I won’t put it off. I will just do it and feel much better about the world.
But I don’t.
Why is it so hard? Why can’t I just write and be satisfied that it will be fine? What exactly is my problem with just getting this quite small thing done? I need 4 or maybe 5 sentences. That’s all.
Surely that is no harder than writing a shopping list?
The Delusion: Taking the First Step into the Coils that Kill
I need a bio for the book I’m writing. Hmmm. This morning, I told myself that I was going to do it. Just as I have done on a weekly basis for the last, well, maybe 10 months. I gave myself a break when I had Covid – that seemed like a reasonable excuse. Before that it was how long?
A couple of years? Surely not?
But today is different. I do make a start. I get together a few sentences. That’s all I need. And what’s more I do it all. Yes, the whole thing!
After all these months, I have FINALLY got somewhere. All I have to do is give it a bit of a polish. Much better to do that with fresh eyes of course. I leave it for tomorrow. It’s going to be easy just to knock off the last rough corners.
I feel so happy as I go to sleep. I’ve cracked it at last. I’m so proud of myself. It was hard but it’s done.
But is it REALLY done?
I even feel good when I wake up. Such a load off my mind.
Until I read it.
How did I think that such garbage would hack it for me?
I keep it to remind myself of my mistakes. I look at it a few times during the day. What was I thinking of when I wrote this?
I feel useless. I can’t face going through that agony again. Not today. I leave it. I don’t need it just yet. Maybe I’ll feel better next week.
And the Coils of Procrastination Wrap Tighter
It’s so many weeks later that I decide once again that I have to stop procrastinating and get it done. My friend Carrelyn told me to imagine that somebody would give me €100,000 if I did it. So I tried again. Yes, I really tried. And with her encouragement as motivation, I did produce something.
But it was once more assigned to the rubbish bin, without the benefit of a night to feel good about it. I went back to the one I did months ago, even though I didn’t like it.
So here I am again. Agonising and procrastinating. Does this happen to you? Do you have a secret way to overcome that fatal hesitation when you need to do something?
More Doing, Less Dithering?
I made myself sit down and think about solutions, actions that I can take to get myself across the finish line. I thought about Carrelyn’s suggestion. Does it really motivate me to be offered that much money? Probably. But it’s never going to happen. But it made me laugh and and it made me think. What was important in her suggestion? Why, it was Carrelyn herself. She is chipping away at the coils, turning procrastination powerless. Carrelyn is encouraging me to free myself and I don’t want to let her down. That’s far more of an incentive and motivation.
I think about my routines. Ideas are great but to stop procrastinating, each of us has to turn our ideas into actions. There are lots of things I do faithfully every day, but not very many that I actually finish. I decide that I must develop a new habit – a finish it habit. I will strike a killer blow against those grasping coils of procrastination by concentrating on finishing things off. Once the job is done, procrastination loses its power to squeeze your emotions into self doubt and despair.
And there are two more stalwart friends, Kerstin from Bike and Soul and Merry from Good Morning Midlife who support and encourage me. They are great at taking action. Kerstin writes and publishes straight away. And Merry recently did a recording of a conversation the three of us were having about how we each use X-mind (the mind mapping tool). Lo and behold, she had it up on her FB page just a couple of hours later! We agreed to be accountable to each other for getting things done. So I have another source of support and motivation to get on with taking action. Can I do it?
With the encouragement and examples of each of them ringing in my ears, I finished a first draft of the bio and now I’m writing this article. My very first actions in my new anti-procrastination campaign.
Escaping the Coils of Procrastination with Your Actions.
Have you had problems with procrastination? Do my struggles in the coils resonate with you?
Procrastination is a hard habit to escape from. I’m trying out these two actions: asking my friends to hold me accountable and creating a new daily habit of allocating time to finishing things. How about if you tried them too?
Imagine that your friends were calling you and asking whether you have done what you committed to? And how proud of yourself you would feel to say you had indeed done just that! Such a good feeling and a step closer to your dream. And maybe you now feel that the coils of procrastination are loosening since you started spending 10 minutes a day on finishing what you began.
I’d love to hear what you have tried and how it has worked for you and what doesn’t work for you too. So many of us struggle with procrastination. If we share our experiences and learn from each other what works and what doesn’t work, then maybe each of us can find which works for us.
Please let me know your ideas and the actions that you have taken to escape the coils of procrastination and you will have done your good deed for the day.