“Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day-after tomorrow just as well.” Mark Twain
It’s a breezy Sunday evening and you’re sitting by the window, taking in the wonderful view. Trees sway against one another. Birds sing to their little ones. The scent of wet earth fills the air. You are relaxed and calm. Sure, you have a report due in a week, but that’s 168 hours away. Today is just too beautiful; you’ll do it tomorrow.
It’s been 5 days. The report is due day-after and you haven’t begun. The panic sets in. You can feel your heartbeat against your chest. You begin to realize just how much work it really is. You realize you have no clue where to start. You sit at the computer but you don’t know what to type. Oh, how you wish you had started earlier!
If only this wasn’t every other person’s tale. Be it a school project, an office target to be met, a broken tap that needs looking into, a career switch to make…we’re all stuck in the pattern of procrastination.
In his widely known TEDx talk Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator, Tim Urban talks about his adventures as an expert procrastinator. All hilarity aside, he explains how procrastination becomes problematic.
We don’t just delay action in our professional lives but in all other aspects of our lives – romantic relationships, familial connections, health, and so on. We may procrastinate leaving an abusive relationship, or talking to our parents about what upsets us, or going to the doctor for a noticeable ailment. All these aspects of our lives are significant, and delaying action with respect to them can be emotionally and physically fatal.
While the initial stages of procrastination are stress-free and pleasant, the latter stages are not. These are the stages when you realize the magnitude of your task compared to the limitations of your time and energy resources. You feel a sense of fear and panic. Your stress sparks instantaneously.
Your dread of the future is counterproductive.
You are unable to concentrate on your task.
You may be trying to focus with all you have, but all your mind keeps saying is,“What if you don’t make it? There’s no time! WHAT IF YOU DON’T MAKE IT? THERE’S NO TIME!”
I’ve got you covered.
After working for years with procrastinators from all over the globe, I have put together for you 3 things to keep in mind when you’re at stuck in the patterns of procrastination.
1. Accept Where You Are
This is it. This is a reality. The time that’s gone is gone and no amount of worry will bring it back.
It’s very tempting right now to think retrospectively: “What if I had worked instead of watching that movie?” “If only I hadn’t wasted time on that video game.” This is called ‘Counterfactual Thinking’ – wherein you imagine situations that could have occurred to produce an outcome better than your current one.
You have a set amount of work and a fixed number of hours. All that Counterfactual Thinking will give you is the same amount of work but fewer hours and a whole lot of stress. Not something you can afford right now.
2. Be Kind to Yourself
Don’t be so harsh on yourself. I know this can be difficult right now. With the panic may come a sense of guilt for not beginning earlier. I know that right now you are cursing yourself saying, “I do this every time! Why can’t I learn from the last time this happened?” But be patient with yourself.
‘Tapping’, also known as ‘Emotional Freedom Techniques’ (EFT), is a technique that combines tapping on acupressure meridians while saying statements out loud. The technique is designed to help you accept those statements even if you didn’t initially believe them.
While procrastinating, tap on the side of your hand and say aloud: “Even though I find myself procrastinating, I am open to the possibility of accepting myself anyway.”
This will help you truly accept this statement and consequently accept yourself in the moment.
Download a free booklet here for a more thorough understanding of Tapping.
Right now is not the time for self-blame, dear. Instead, it’s time to buck up and accomplish against the odds. Divert this negative energy that you are directing at yourself. Use this energy to charge through your project!
3. Trust that Things Will Change
Procrastination is not a sin. But it certainly isn’t a virtue. Use these 3 tools when you find yourself stuck in the pattern of procrastination while you gradually try to kick the habit itself.
The only constant is change. With the right guidance of a Life Coach, you can identify where the root of your procrastinating tendencies lies. Then trust that in due time, you will be able to uproot this cause and live the structured, productive, stress-free life you wish to embody!
So here you have them – my 3 pointers for procrastinators! Be mindful of these simple facts and fire away to productivity!
In conclusion, even if you have procrastinated in the past, you have a choice now to change all that now.
Love Dr Rangana Rupavi Choudhuri (PhD) with Ashni Acharya