Have you ever witnessed a two-year-old having a meltdown at the grocery store?
It’s not pretty to watch, and it’s even less fun for the parent who has to deal with the kicking-and-screaming-suddenly-incredibly-strong child.
It’s really easy to see the tantrum as bad behaviour and react to it out of embarrassment and frustration.
It takes a certain kind of willingness to understand what’s going on underneath that behaviour and address the root cause (like maybe the kid missed their nap and desperately needs one.)
The same thing is true about procrastination.
It’s a behaviour, and in order to stop it, you have to understand its root cause.
According to dictionary.com, procrastination is defined as “the act or habit of procrastinating, or putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention.”
Procrastination: An Act of Doing Something Else Instead
As someone who helps soulful and creative entrepreneurs take action on their ideas, I’d like to propose that it’s also the act of doing something else instead of the task at hand.
What procrastination looks like really depends on the individual. It can range from scrolling through your favourite social media platform, binge-watching a new release on Netflix, or organizing your closet (especially if the show you just watched featured a certain-someone named Marie!)
The point is – you’re doing one thing to avoid doing another. And that something you’re avoiding?
Chances are it’s probably something you perceive as unpleasant, difficult, boring, yucky, scary, draining, beyond your skill or ability and so on…
In other words, there’s a reason you flip into procrastination mode.
As a wearer of many hats and spinner of many plates, perhaps you know what I mean?
You have lots to do, so it’s natural that what you perceive as the less desirable tasks will get pushed to the bottom of your to-do list.
So How Do You Stop Procrastinating?
Let go of the judgement that seems to come hand in hand with it, and get curious about what’s really going on!
Here are a few questions you can ask the next time you find yourself looking for a way out of a task you’d rather not do.
1. What am I really avoiding?
While putting something off is an easy and effective strategy in the short term, it’s likely to catch up with you in the long run. Understanding the WHAT you’re avoiding is key – is it boredom? A perceived risk? Being visible? An unpleasant reality? Or is it that you don’t want to acknowledge something?
2. What if it didn’t have to be perfect?
Whether it prevents you from hitting the send button or from offering your new program, striving for perfection can easily hold you back from doing what you need or want to do. What would be possible if you could let go of the need for things to be a certain way?
3. What am I afraid of?
Fear is yet another powerful de-motivator that can prevent you from doing what needs to get done. Here’s a little list of typical fears entrepreneurs experience along the way: rejection, failure, being wrong, being criticized, standing out, being seen, rocking the boat… You get the idea!
Note: there’s a difference between not wanting to do something out of fear and not wanting to do it because it makes you feel yucky or bad inside. If it feels bad, you’re likely trying to do something that goes against what you believe in or a value that’s important to you. Check out this resource that gives you permission to be more real in your business.
4. Who could do this better, faster, and with more ease?
If you were to track the kinds of tasks you typically put off, I bet you’d notice a theme (ie. book-keeping, researching speaking engagements, etc.) Chances are – there’s someone out there who could do it better and faster than you. And it would be first on their list to do it for you!
5. Is this the best time for me to do this?
Because maybe it’s not. Sometimes you need a break. Or a good night’s sleep. Or you need another piece of the puzzle to fall into place. Sometimes what you need most is to give yourself some time and space. And then the task isn’t quite so hard. Or you have the energy, the clear mind, or the fresh eyes you need to get it done.
Procrastination Doesn’t Have to Be a Life Long Habit
As you may already know, procrastination can be a frustrating habit that costs you time, energy and money.
But it doesn’t have to be a life-long one.
Look for the information hiding behind the behaviour.
Go on. Stop procrastinating before you start!
As a business strategist, Mary Strachan helps soulful, creative entrepreneurs achieve their dreams without having to compromise their energy and well-being. Learn more about her here or say pop in and say hi during weekly Open Office Hours.
Are you where you want to be in your business?