We all joke about procrastinating. But I have theory, and I have some reasons to back it up, that there’s more going on when I procrastinate. I believe that procrastination is a combination of fear, anxiety, and laziness, maybe even a little pride too, and when I procrastinate doing a task. I often wonder if it’s just a symptom of a bigger problem. Is it for you?
1. Everything has to be perfect. I have this picture in your head of what my writing is supposed to be, what I am, as a writer, is supposed to be. But I know my weaknesses so well that I think that until I achieve that elusive idea of perfection, I can’t take a step. This isn’t very healthy and it could be the reason that I’m putting things off.
2. Something unknown is going to happen. Yes, yes it is. From a rational perspective, I can’t control the future about anything, and taking chances means that I have to give up a little bit of control. I give up the known for the unknown, paying a entry fee, if you will, toward some sort of adventure. However, I’ve learned that if I acknowledge this fear, if I give myself permission to be afraid of the future, then drink a big glass of water, set my timer for 10 minutes, and write, my fears fade pretty quickly.
3. I’d rather do something else right now. While I’m waiting for a “feeling” to get me started, I do lots of silly, unimportant things. But this is the truth about feelings, they are fickle things. Mine might change completely if I eat another chunk of pepper jack cheese. Instead of listening and obeying my feelings, I need to be the boss of my to-do list and set my timer for 10 minutes. My feelings can shut up for a little increment of time, right?
4. I find small, unimportant things to do to avoid the real tasks. I have, more often than I care to admit, been so intimidated by the tasks that I have to do for my writing or marketing that I will find anything ANYTHING to do except that task. Without fail, the task I fear is generally painless. The anxiety of doing it is far worse than the task itself. This is what I love about the 10-minute method. I can face anything for a short amount of time.
5. A lack of motivation — this too might be tied into to my fickle emotions. I’ve given myself permission to change my goals because I’ve lost interest in them, but it’s not okay to give up on my goals for vague reasons. This may be a good argument for seeing a professional counselor. (I did that too, and I think it saved my life!)
“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone” ― Pablo Picasso
6. I often get distracted. Now this happens a lot. In addition to having symptoms of ADHD, I also did much of my writing around the needs of my five children. This is another reason why the 10 minute method is so helpful: it forced me to pay attention to one task for a short amount of time.
7. I’m intimidated by the work. As a child, I often heard “All things worth having are worth working for”, but then that was told by one of the laziest, most unambitious people I have ever met. It does take time to accomplish goals, but you are going to grow older whether you are working for the things you love or not. When I spend 10 minutes daily on my goals, not only will I be able to work be in manageable chunks but I will be all that closer to accomplishing my goals.
So what’s on my to-do list? Nothing I can’t handle if I’m honest with myself. Are you procrastinating? What’s keeping you from accomplishing your goals?