So… previously I wrote about the importance of identifying the things in your life you value the most and then very specifically articulating exactly what they mean for you.
I mean… I don’t know about you, but that first realisation that something you hold super-important is either not being met through your working life, or worse, is actively being overlooked… can be a bit discombobulating!
For those who have a sense your working life is not quite what you want it to be but you’re putting off dealing with it to another day… I have a question for you… what is it you’re waiting for?
Are you just a bit busy right now? Or tired? Or overwhelmed? Or maybe, that’s it’s just not the right time?
If this is the case, then allow me to share something I’ve learnt through bitter experience…
There’s no such thing as the “perfect time”
Does your version of trying to figure things out or do something important look like this…
Step 1: Pick something you reeeaallllly want to do. Something so important, you’ll feel truly regretful if you don’t do it.
Step 2: Then decide to do something else… something that’ll just take a minute and really should be done before you get stuck into that other “important” thing.
Step 3: Finish doing that something else, feel pleased with your efforts and how productive you’ve been. That other “important” thing can wait until tomorrow (or next week… or “later”), you’ve been far too busy today anyway.
Does this sound familiar? It’s not just me, is it?
If you found yourself nodding along… it’s likely that you, like me, are a “busy procrastinator” i.e. you use being “busy” as your excuse to avoid doing something “important”.
How to avoid using “busyness” as your form of procrastination
The first step in any procrastination recovery process is to look it in the eye and call it what it is, rather than continue to kid yourself you’re just “too busy”. Here are the tips I’ve found useful as I work through my “recovery”…
1. NAME IT TO TAME IT
If acknowledging you’re procrastinating is step 0… then understanding why you’re putting off doing something you really want to do is the next step. When you consider getting stuck into that “really important thing”, what immediately springs to mind? Do you think it’ll be boring? Or not sure where to start? Does it seem so “big” you think you’ll need a whole day or week to do it? Or are you worried about what will happen once it’s done? What’s your particular flavour of “putting things off”?
2. TEST & VALIDATE
By identifying the “why” behind your procrastination, you can inspect it and start to create some perspective. Is it real or perceived? Establish the facts. Whatever it is you’re avoiding… if it’s supported by fact, focus on what you can learn or do differently to what you’ve done before. And if it’s based on a story, acknowledge your feelings, accept they’re not based on reality, and find a way to let them go so you can get started.
3. BABY STEPS
You’re not alone if you’re avoiding doing something because it’s unfamiliar or feels too big. I often hear this from clients contemplating a career change! It’s important to understand any large-scale project or achievement does not happen in one big leap. So, if something feels overwhelming, break into a set of smaller steps. Still stuck… break it down even more. Start with something simple and doable… spend an hour researching, write a list of all the things you want to know, or the people who can help you.
4. TURN OFF THE DISTRACTIONS
Can’t get started until you’ve cleared your inbox, sorted the washing, completed your online shopping, done your admin, or responded to those messages? I get it… these all need to get done, they’re important. The problem is, because you deem these activities to be “easy” or friction-free, you go onto auto-pilot and work through them to completion. Whereas that “important” thing you’re avoiding requires you to be intentional and mindful. So, tune out or turn down the “quick win” distractions and tackle that other thing first.
5. DOING VS AVOIDING
Guess what? You expend as much energy avoiding something as you do doing it! If you’ve abandoned something you’ve previously started or just need to get started, rip off the bandaid and do something… anything. Choose that small step and take it. Things will never be perfect, you’ll never have enough time, and there’s no way of knowing what our external environment is going to throw at us next. One step followed by another creates momentum and before you know it… progress!
It’s easy to trick yourself into believing that being busy means you’re not procrastinating… but if there’s something important you want that’s not getting done, you’re probably busy procrastinating.
With a few small tweaks to your mindset and daily habits you can channel all that busyness into more effective outcomes. I love solving problems so if you (or anyone you know) is stuck in procrastination mode, I’m here to help.