By Corporate Coach, Michael Steele
Have you ever planned an entire morning to work on an important project, write an article, or make 30 outgoing calls to prospects? You have the time blocked out and best of intentions? You look at the clock at noon and realize you have cleaned your desk, dusted your ceiling fan, ordered 3 items from Amazon, written 2 thank you notes, but not touched your project, article, or calls. This is procrastination at its finest. What causes this procrastination phenomenon? How can we help ourselves deal with it and ultimately work to defeat it?
What procrastination is at its core is an emotion-management problem.
“It really has nothing to do with time-management,” “As I tell people, to tell the chronic procrastinator to just do it would be like saying to a clinically depressed person, cheer up.” says APS Fellow Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University.
Three major emotions that create procrastination issues are; perfectionism, fear of failure and lack of focus. These procrastination issues have some key steps that we can use to help ourselves attack the problem and help us move forward:
1) Awareness: If we are aware that breaking the procrastination habit is not as simple as a buying a Day Timer we can begin to work with the issue. Creating a plan to deal with perfectionism begins with self-compassion and forgiveness. I need to recognize it, give myself a break, accept and forgive. If I am at deadline and feel frustrated and mad. I need to be kind to myself. Remembering the pain of needing to be without mistakes, is causing me the stress associated with deadlines.
To help combat perfectionism, understand and believe the “do my best” concept. We are all human and believe that doing our best we can be successful. Our “best” gets projects finished on time with full satisfaction. We achieve excellence through striving for perfection.
2) Acceptance: Another key to understanding procrastination is the acceptance of these emotions and the need to change. Change is not the hard part; it is the failure to accept the need to change that causes the stress. We need to understand and accept that procrastination is an emotion which grows from the fear of failure, perfectionism, and lack of focus or motivation. It is important for us to make the decision to change and accept these principles for transformation to begin.
3) Action: The last piece to the puzzle is action. Breaking down the project into smaller steps will create action that can help us in many ways. Action, in small steps, will create momentum, confidence, and mini-success. These successful acts will keep us on the path to finishing projects on-time without the stress of rushing to the finish. It is so important to build momentum and confidence to create desire to keep moving forward.
As we stated earlier, Procrastination is not a time-management problem. What procrastination is, at its core, is an emotion-management problem. As we deal with emotions, we can move into better time-management techniques. That will be a whole new topic down the road. For now, I look forward to everyone doing their best, being compassionate toward themselves, and taking the small steps toward the changes you want to make in your lives to making them even more productive and enjoyable.
Michael Steele has used his basketball coaching experience to create winning teams in business and finance. He offers a unique perspective to business leaders and team members looking for the “win.” Click here for more info on Michael.