A quick Google search of procrastination leads to a few common words, lazy and lack of self-control. I have counseled (and know) many successful, motivated, and in control individuals that would consider themselves “procrastinators.” A realization occurred when I did this 5 second search, the shame that comes along with procrastinating. So, I decided to put together some key points to reflect on when thinking about your own flavor of procrastination.
What do you care about? A simple question for some, “My family, my kids, my job, my pet” etc. But for others, a delay occurs when asking this question. Let’s say someone chose school as what they care about, but weekly they are staying up until 2am when a paper is due tomorrow and procrastinating. Where does that disconnect occur? How can we care about something and leave it to the last minute? Is it a lack of self-control? Am I lazy? Do I even care about school? These are some common questions that can occur but can also be answered with some deeper thinking. Which is where the next question comes into play.
What is my big picture? So, after some deeper thinking, you really don’t care about that particular class that the project was due in. You don’t like the teacher, the subject is boring, you hated that story, whatever the case may be. So then, what is your bigger picture? School is a stepping stone to something bigger, just as work is. If you chose work as what you care about, then why and what is the bigger picture? Is it that you can go on vacation to where ever you want? You enjoy helping others or using your trade? What is the bigger picture.
The final question is what motivates you? This will probably be hard for a procrastinator to answer. Usually the rush of the deadline is what is motivating, to get it done as the time is ticking down, the “crunch time.” But what of that motivates you? Is it the stress? The adrenaline? The picture of your boss/teacher/partner being upset that it was not completed?
If we can put all of these three answers together, our procrastination begins to unfold. After doing this reflecting myself, I find my anxiety about meeting deadlines had decreased, I give myself more grace, and I have been able to hone in on what really motivates me and why I wanted to complete that task. Removing the emotion from the activity also can assist us in this. “I’ll do that project later because it’s boring” well we just gave our project an emotion. Now it is compartmentalized in our brain as “boring” and why would I want to do something that is boring. Rather thinking of the project as an item that I need to complete, a task that needs to be done, so that I can get on with playing video games/watching TV/ going for my run.