Ever had one of those days (weeks, months?!) when you start to do something, or even start to think about doing something, but you put it off for another day. Again.
Yup, me too! We have fallen foul of procrastination.
Procrastination can become something of a habit, but it robs us of achieving what we want or need to do today and pushes it into that forever unattainable place of Tomorrow.
So why do we do it? I know why I do it, fear of failure, imposter syndrome, laziness, fear of success sometimes too, and probably a myriad of other reasons, all equally unconvincing in the cold light of day.
Here’s An Example Of How I ‘Do’ Procrastination
So, I’ve been ‘writing’ an assignment for several weeks. By that I mean I got out a load of text books, looked studiously at them, read little bits of them, piled them into neat piles, allowed them to fall into random piles. I talked to several people about trying to get on with writing the assignment.
Then I wrote notes, lots and lots of notes, mostly about the same thing but from different books! Followed up by straightening up the notes, drawing some pretty diagrams, thinking very hard about the books and the notes, admiring the diagrams, telling other people I’d made some pretty diagrams, twiddling my thumbs, going out for walks, or lunch with friends (actually I haven’t been out for any walks, but it sounds good so I put that in to make myself feel better!).
I did house work, went to work (fair enough we all have to do some things!) and I watched tv.
I had meltdowns. Several of these, the meltdowns begging me to stop what I was doing (which was thinking about starting to maybe do some writing) and feel sorry for myself, to stop the awful feeling of being a failure (remember I haven’t actually written anything yet to fail!), that this is just too hard (and again, I haven’t actually written anything yet), that its ok, just walk away (so I don’t write anything) and do it tomorrow. Hmm.
Procrastination Is Not Our Friend
Point being that procrastination is not our friend. It feeds into our existing anxieties and insecurities and magnifies them and justifies putting off the thing that’s causing the anxiety. And it’s not evidence based. I have absolutely no evidence to support my internal anxiety that the essay is rubbish, after all it’s not actually written yet, and my previous essays have not been failures, quite the contrary.
One Way We Con Ourselves
According to TA (Transactional Analysis) theory one of the things we often do when committing to do something is to use a ‘con’- words that sound really committed but actually are a get out clause from completing the task (and certainly I do this if the above is anything to go by).
For example telling myself, or someone else, ‘I’m going to work towards writing my assignment today’. That’s a con because ‘working towards’ does not equate to an achievable and measurable outcome.
Or, ‘I’m going to try and find time today to sit down and write my essay’. Again, a con because trying does not mean I’m actually going to achieve what I need to do.
Using Con Free Language
Therefore, to avoid any potential for conning myself here is today’s goal: ‘I will write the introduction to my assignment today’. Achievable, measurable and doable. (Feel free to ask me at the end of the day if I did this).
So what are you procrastinating about today, and what are you going to say to yourself, or others, in order to stop conning yourself and complete whatever it is you’re avoiding?
This post first appeared on my Facebook page on 16.10.19. It has been edited slightly.
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