My Grandad had a plate mounted on the wall as I was growing up; a “Round Tuit”. I had an odd fascination with it despite never understanding its meaning. Now of course, I “get it”, and think most people would really welcome its positive effects! Having (mostly) overcome procrastinating tendencies (starting this blog is another high jump completed!), I decided to start with this challenging topic – it seemed fitting. There are merits to procrastinating, but also some very debilitating effects…
I love a definition – so here is it. To procrastinate is…”to put off (an action) until later; delay”. Is that good or bad?
Firstly, what purpose does it serve us? For most, there is so much to do, and by delaying until later, we have more time right now, to do the things we love. Next, if the task or action is associated with making ourselves vulnerable, then a delay means we won’t be exposed. When we delay things, we have more time, so we aren’t rushed into doing things. When we do it therefore, it will be perfect, surely? (another story coming soon!).
Now the downside, the things we delay, sit firmly on our shoulders like a sack of gym weights, a vice on our brain shouting “you should” whilst also fighting with Mr and Mrs “I’m too busy” or “I don’t want to”. It could be something so simple as taking the rubbish out, pay a bill or clean the oven, through to big things like writing that presentation, essay or sales pitch.
When we enlist our “let’s do this” character and do that little job though, or make a start on the big one, we then have a rush of “oh wow, that feels amazing to have got that out of the way” or “so glad I’ve made a start on that” shortly followed by “why did I leave that so long?” and sometimes “I can do more of this!”.
With one job cracked, it spurs you on to do more, either associated with that task, or something completely different, seems somehow easier.
A client recently said to me “I have realised that doing nothing whilst worrying about what I need to do, is not relaxing, its procrastination”, this enabled them to separate the two. This leads to a double win of
1) getting things done and;
2) actually starting to enjoy and truly benefit from rest and recovery time
Moving now to action, WHAT COULD BE DONE to crack this?
Do something small, EVERY DAY. Sometimes the job feels to big. “Wipe that smear on the window” is linked to “cleaning the whole house”, so we give up when we don’t believe we have time for the bigger job. Break it apart. What is the smallest job you could do right now, that you’ve been putting off?
Force yourself to sit. Do and think of nothing. Watch your mind – what is it itching to do, rather than sit still?
So, what are you going to do now?
Sheela Hobden is a Coach at bluegreen Coaching. Following her own mental health battles, she now coaches individuals, runs training sessions and speaks at conferences. She helps others get productive, search for their “it” or get their mojo back to find more in life and work. She has a PGCERT in Business and Personal Coaching, holds ACC member status with the ICF and is CIPD qualified.