Thursday, 8 February 2018
I've seen a few things about procrastination lately, articles, presentations and so on. All nonsense, I'm afraid, because they all approached procrastination as an issue of motivation and focus, so all you have to do is get motivated and focus. Whoa! If someone had only told me it was that easy!
Procrastination has nothing to do with motivation. In fact, the more you procrastinate, the more motivated you are, because you keep finding the energy to come back to something.
No, procrastination is about FEAR. Just in the past week I've worked with seasoned executives, directors, business owners and sales people whose best laid plans were derailed by fears that they were largely unaware of. Fear is so powerful, so pervasive, that it nudges us off track before we even realise, and before we know it, we've spent the morning doing anything other than what we meant to do.
Here is an antidote for you, a series of simple questions to help you to identify what is pushing you away from your intended outcome so that you can take action.
When you catch yourself starting the same task for maybe the 2nd or 3rd time, just pause for a moment and ask yourself this series of questions:
Why am I avoiding this?
What do I imagine is going to happen if I complete this task?
Is that what I want to happen?
What is it that I do want, then?
And what shall I do now to get that?
These questions help you to focus on the imaginary scenario that represents the fear which is pushing you off track. It could be fear of conflict, criticism, rejection, these seem to be the most common. Maybe if you finish a project or send an email, the recipient might not like it, might be angry at you. By acknowledging that imagined scenario, you have an opportunity to realise the obvious truth - that it is in the future and therefore cannot be real. You can then focus on what you do want, and what practical action you can take now to move towards that.
I can't guarantee that you'll become a super-efficient productivity machine by doing this, but I am highly certain that you'll get a little more done, more easily, each day, and if you keep on doing that, good things are just bound to happen.