How I’m Going to Tackle my Procrastination Problem…Eventually

Written by: Jorinde Berben
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My whole life, I’ve struggled with a pretty bad procrastination problem. Doing something that needed doing in any reasonable time before the deadline seemed really strange. Why would you do something you consider unpleasant at all until you absolutely have to? Chances are, if you’ve clicked on this post (and are perhaps reading this at a time you should be working), you have an idea of what I’m talking about.

Over the years, I have made some strides in curbing my procrastination, mainly because the load of work I have to do now is not maneagable anymore in a few hours late at night. I have less time to allocate to work than I used to, and more work to do in that time (plus children to run and a household to raise. Yes, in that order.)
So for about half of the time now, I manage to prepare my things in advance, correct papers in the week after I’ve received them and finish blog posts well before midnight.

And then there are those times where all my good habits go out the window.

By now, I’ve run into this wall so often, I can pretty much describe every single brick in it in excruciating detail.
I procrastinate when I’m stressed and/or going through strong emotions. Most of the time, the stress is related to work pressure. I feel like I have too much to do and not enough time to do it in. But it can also be related to my social life that’s getting too busy, or some kind of issue in my relationship. It’s almost unavoidable when I feel like I need to choose between being a good teacher, a good mother, a good partner or a good friend. When those ideals I have in my head conflict due to time or energy restraints, I’m bound to try and find ways to escape and procrastinate.

Last Tuesday, I talked to my good friend and fellow coach Olga about this. She recommended identifying my procrastination habits very clearly and paying attention to when those behaviors occur so that you can ask yourself why you’re doing it at that specific moment.

So, I’m going ahead and making a list of my most typical procrastination behaviors.

  • Watching youtube video’s >>> This is by far number 1 for me. If I find myself going over old SNL video’s, stand-up or late night talk shows, I’m putting something off for sure (such as going to bed on time).
  • Online shopping >>> also needs no explanation, I’m sure.
  • facebook time >>> this one is sneaky. At least with the youtube video’s, I kind of see how long a video is and can then decide that I really don’t have time for this (but am going to watch it anyways?). With facebook you don’t even realise how much time it absorbs. It really is a time killer.
  • (to a lesser degree) also sometimes the following: chips/chocolate, unproductive cleaning, visiting my parents downstairs, texting, playing Wordfued, listening to old favorite songs, going through photo’s

You’ll find that these behaviors often coincide with your addictions.
Now, in order to break those habits, I’m going to have to be vigilant around them. Whenever I find myself watching a youtube video, I’ll ask “Why are you doing this right now? Is there something you wish you’d be doing instead? Is there something that is making you uncomfortable?” I’ve talked about these reasons for going into addictive behaviors in my post on your drug of choice.

Then, I want to find ways to cope with those emotions of stress and worries of not having enough time in a healthier way. How can I reduce my stress to such a level that I can actually harvest that energy to work? I know meditation can do wonders, but I don’t always have a quiet room to meditate in. And even when I do, I often find ways not to meditate as well. Still, it’ll go on the list, since I might eventually learn to gravitate towards it if I try it enough.
These will be my new productive procrastination habits (fingers crossed!):

  • Drink a cup of coffee without doing anything else.
  • Go for a short walk/go outside.
  • Plan out my work that still needs doing/make a to-do list.
  • Use meditation/visualization to calm down and refocus.
  • Call someone to help regulate my emotions.
  • Pick a specific area in my home and clean it (e.g. my desk)
  • Write a blog post!

Last but not least, I’ll need to keep the reasons for doing this very clear. I know myself: if I start saying ‘I shouldn’t’, I’m bound to rebel against my own inner parent.
So I need to rephrase by saying what I WANT rather than saying what I should do:

  • I want to do my work in a relaxed way.
  • I want to have free time with my family, without stressing over what else I still need to do.
  • I want to enjoy the work I do as much as I can, without worrying about it.
  • I want to be proud of what I do, and the way I do it.
  • I want to be a calm and relaxed presence for those around me, not a white rabbit meets Mad Hatter.
  • I want to take care of myself in the best way possible, because I love myself.

I’ve been fighting this beast for a few decades (just to illustrate how apt this recent post really was), but I don’t let that discourage me (at least not all the time). I know that all that stands between defeat and victory, is the amount of times you keep getting up after you fall down.

Today, I choose to get back up.

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