Procrastination is not Laziness • Problem Procrastination does NOT come from: • Laziness • Lack of Willpower • Lack of Ambition • Problem Procrastination is self-inflicted and stress-related
When is Procrastination Good? Procrastination can be good when: • Lack a Resource and must Wait • Suspect an Assignment is not really important • You need to Think it Through more • Your EnergyLevel is wrong (not Mood)
Awareness or Mindfulness • Even before you begin to beat procrastination, you can start to increase your awareness • Step back from yourself – observe your feelings as you feel them • Notice your actions as you do them • This sets you up for success
Stress Worsens Procrastination • Chronic Stress changes the Brain • NY Times article 18-Aug-2009 • Problem-solving and Goal-seeking areas of the brain shrivel • Rote and Habit areas blossom • Doing old things and expecting new results
Stress Relief can Restore the Brain • With four weeks of vacation, the brain returns to normal • Problem-solving and Goal-seeking areas re-grow • Rote and Habit areas shrink back • Other stress-reduction habits help
Stress Behaviors • Difficulty making decisions. • Angry outbursts. • Forgetfulness. • Low energy level. • Constant worrying. • Propensity for mistakes. • Thoughts about death or suicide. • Trouble getting along with others. • Carelessness. • Withdrawing from others. • Hiding from responsibilities.
Stress Enhancers • Isolation • Uncertainty • Feeling of Lack of Control • Fatigue
Notice Stress Behaviors If you are showing behavioral signs of high stress: • Do not blame or shame yourself! That enhances stress • Instead, realize it means: • You really are under a lot of stress • Your behavior will improve as you reduce subjective stress
Attack Stress Enhancers • If you are Isolated: • Eat meals with friends • If you are Uncertain: • Seek certainty – analyze, ask • If you Feel a Lack of Control: • Focus on what you can control • If you have Fatigue: • Get good sleep – prioritize it
Procrastination Journal • Increase your awareness of your procrastination thoughts and behaviors by keeping a journal of: • The date and time of the impulse • What you were doing • What you were tempted to do • What you told yourself • What you chose to do and for how long
Procrastination Triggers • Procrastination is often triggered by: • Resentment • Confusion or Uncertainty • Fear of • Failure • Success • Criticism • Skill Deficit • Unrealistic Time Estimates
Resentment Your procrastination might be triggered by Resentment if: • You have a hard time saying “no” • You’re a people-pleaser • You are often bullied into things • You fear confrontation • You feel taken advantage of • You say “I shouldn’t have to…”
Resentment Example • Dilbert cartoon about Low Standards: • Wally tells Asok to use the “power of low standards” and leave his dirty dishes on the floor • Alice walks by and says “once again I have to clean up after slobs”
Resentment Non-Fixes • Anti-procrastination advice that may NOT work with Resentment: • Break it into smaller chunks • Instead of one large task I resent, now I have ten small tasks I resent • Reward yourself • The reward may bring up the same negative emotion as the task and become non-rewarding • Clarify Goal or Next Step • If the problem is not a lack of clarity, time spent clarifying is wasted
Resentment Fixes • Defer (mindfully) – pick a higher priority task to do instead • Ditch – Just say “no” • Dilute the impact – Focus on your Worthy Goal • Delegate (when appropriate) • Just Do It – “Put on your Big Boy Pants” – sometimes we all have to do things we dislike; grow up
Procrastination Cycle You Feel Anxiety Which is temporarily relieved by An Empty Promise or a Self-Criticism or a Distraction Which leads to Non-performance and more Anxiety
Confusion or Uncertainty Is Your Procrastination Triggered by Confusion or Uncertainty? • Do I have a Clear Vision of my desired outcome? • Do I have a Clear Understanding of my Next Steps? • Do I have a sense of hopelessness? • Do I feel Anger because it seems someone wants me to Read their Mind?
Confusion Fixes • Create a Vision First • Analyze – what is unclear • Ask – sharing a burden halves it • Find Someone Who Did It • Almost any successful person will gladly give you 30 minutes to tell you how they succeeded – just offer to buy them coffee • Work Backwards from Result • When the Process is unclear, specify the Outcome
Don’t Remember Things When experimental subjects had to memorize seven (7) digits instead of two (2): • Their self-control dropped by half (50%) • They were twice as likely to pick chocolate cake over fruit salad Use your System to Remember Things “The Weakest Ink is Stronger than the Strongest Memory” – so write it down
Fear Is Your Procrastination Triggered by Fear? • What emotions come up when I consider this task? • Have I eliminated Resentment? • Have I eliminated Confusion? • Am I mad at myself, or consider myself cowardly? • Do I envy people who do this easily?
Faces of Fear The three major kinds of fear are: • Fear of Failure • Does doing badly hurt more than not trying? (Perfection or don’t try) • Fear of Success • Will success push us out of our comfort zone or create new work? • Fear of Criticism • Who might be critical? Why do we care? Tackle each one differently!
Fear Fixes • Create a Vision First • Find a passion greater than your fear • Deadlines • The fear of missing the deadline can overcome the fear of doing the task • Find Someone Who Did It • Sometimes the role model gives you courage • Create an Unshakable Sense of Worth based on Facts • Re-Interpret Fear as a Reason to Act
Skill Deficit Procrastination Triggered by a Skill Deficit • What emotions come up when I consider the task I’m putting off? • Have I eliminated Resentment, Confusion, and Fear as causes? • Am I self-Critical / see myself as Stupid?
Skill Deficit Fixes • Break into Sub-Steps, then check Skill • List Skill needed for each sub-step • Go find/hire each skill you lack • Identify the Real Outcome • Guy who couldn’t Read – went with Audio Books instead • Re-Interpret your Reluctance – treat the skill deficit as a challenge
Unrealistic Time Estimates Is Your Procrastination Triggered by Unrealistic Time Estimates? • Do I even make time estimates? • Have I eliminated Resentment? Confusion? Fear? • Am I Chronically Late?
4 Time Management Tricks Keep a Time Log Pomodoro Technique Power To-Do List What, Why, Est, Actual Toodledo.com Plan each Day the Night Before
Three Steps to Beat Procrastination Become mindful – notice when you do it Analyze – identify your triggers Treat – use the right fixes for your triggers