The Procrastination Problem

procrastination Spring Bud

Procrastination.  I am guilty of it my clients are guilty of it.  We have stuff we want to do but we just don’t do it.

Why do we procrastinate? Is it a lack of will power?  A Lack of desire? Because we are weak and pathetic? Or is it something else?

Here are a few of my theories.  Feel free to weigh in on yours in the comments section below.

Perfectionism.  I can remember when I was in school I would procrastinate until the very last minute on an assignment and there I would be rushing to finish a paper before the deadline (it is still a habit today–just ask my nearest and dearest) Deadlines motivate me. So knowing this about myself I can then know that procrastination is part of my process. No need to panic, no need to guilt myself or beat myself up–I GET something from procrastinating.  AND I also lose something: it drives those around me crazy, it causes undue pressure on myself and most importantly, I don’t always give my best product.  Part of the reason I procrastinate is as a coping mechanism for my perfectionist tendencies–I can only do as well as the time I have been given.  So I have to stop working on the task not because it is perfect but because my time is up. If I start the task 2 weeks before it is due I will drive myself crazy trying to prefect it so to comp with that I tend to procrastinate. While I am working on letting go of my perfectionist tendencies I can be more understanding that procrastination is part of the process.

Fear. Change is hard.  Even baby step change is hard. If you are scared to tackle a new task you might engage in procrastination. Because we convince ourselves it is best to not fail.  Our mongers, in an attempt to keep us safe and protected fill us with messages of comfort and security and the pain of risk and failure.  My dad who was an insurance salesman would tell me the story of having to make cold calls. First thing in the morning he would sit down at his desk and his first instinct was to procrastinate on the calls.  So he would call someone he knew, someone who wanted to hear from him and would give him some positive feedback and energy.  THEN he would have the energy to embrace the cold calls. Once he got going all was well, he just needed a little help getting going.  This is a fabulous example of easing around procrastination.  Figuring out what is underneath your procrastination and what baby steps you can take to accomplish the goal is helpful.  Recognizing that you are procrastinating due to fear is the first step. Then give yourself some room around that.  Finally, figure out what step can you take that has minimal risk but will give some confidence and energy to keep going.

Maybe now isn’t the time.  Sometimes we have to just let stuff go and the fact that we are procrastinating is a sign that now is not the time. I have worked with many clients who after weeks of procrastination finally came in and said, “You know I don’t think I really want to do ____, I think that is what my procrastination is telling me”.  I have found that frequently our gut speaks through procrastination.  When there is a lot of resistance (aka procrastination) to an activity/change do a gut check:  Am I afraid? Am I being too much of a perfectionist? or Is now not the time?

Let me know in the comments:  Do you suffer from procrastination?  What do you do about it? What is behind your procrastination?