Procrastination is not about time-management issue, its a managing emotions in a healthy way issue.
I told myself I would begin writing at 9:00 am. I would finish up this blog series and schedule them to auto post. My plan was to complete the copy for the accompanying podcast episode. But here it is 1:35 and I just got everything just so. Now, I am ready. Let's go!
No. Not this time. We are going to have to talk about it this time. Why did I wait so long to get started? What does getting everything "just so" mean? Seriously, why did I procrastinate on this? It wasn't a hard deadline, I imposed it on myself because I wasn't doing anything else.
Why did I choose to clean the kitchen, empty trash, and start laundry? Why do I disengage with the task at hand?
I know that I am not the only one to procrastinate. We all have done it. We refer to ourselves as the Queen of Procrastination, or is is just me? I say it as a compliment, yet I know in my soul it's a self-defeating label. Instead of doing the tasks at hand, I find myself putting things off, I need to understand why.
People have suffered with procrastination since forever. For example, as seen by the classic Greek poet Hesiod wrote in Works and Days:
Do not postpone for tomorrow or the day after tomorrow: barns are not filled by those who postpone and waste time in aimlessness. Work prospers with care: He who postposes wrestles with ruin.
My earliest memory of seeing procrastination was when I was 8 years old. My grandmother worked nights at the state psychiatric hospital. She worked 12 midnight to 8:00am. She would tell me to wake her up at 10:00pm to get ready. She and her cousin carpooled. Her cousin obviously knew my grandmother was a procrastinator. She would arrive at 11:15 for a 10-minute commute.
Right when it's time for my grandmother to leave the house she would start cleaning ashtrays, wiping down the table, and anything else that needed attention. Her cousin outside blowing the horn, my aunt and I reminding her of the time. Every night it took my grandmother at least 45 minutes to leave the house. Why?
Why? Well, we know it wasn't time management. She knew what time she needed to be at work. She knew what time her cousin was due to pick her up. If it was her week to drive, she would sleep a little bit longer. My grandmother had her bag packed and was ready to go so time wasn't the issue. Something triggered her to procrastinate when it was time to leave the house. Maybe it was leaving the safety and security of her home? It could have been the stress of the upcoming shift that caused this habit? Maybe it was dreading going to a thankless, unfulfilling job?
I don't know but I am sure her procrastination wasn't related her ability to manage her time. It was definitely about her emotional management .
"Procrastination is not a time-management problem, it's an emotion-management problem," says Tim Pychyl, an associate professor of psychology at Carleton University. If you want a deeper dive read the article, Procrastination 101: It's Not About Feeling It.
As procrastinators, my grandmother and I knew this behavior was hurting us, but we continued the habit. I can't speak for my grandmother but I certainly wanted to stop. I liked the idea of turning in a project early or completing tasks with ease, or at least without the anxiety of getting in done in time. I am tired of asking the same question, "why do keep procrastinating when I know it's not good for me?"
I keep asking the question because I know that I need to understand the why, in order to change the behavior.
A New perspective
If it's true that procrastination is an issue of managing our emotions, not our time, then perhaps we should look at the individual tasks rather than the overall arching behavior. With this in mind think about tasks that make us feel bad because they are boring, difficult, or it's impossible to do it perfectly so we decide to do something else, like watching TV. Often tasks that we do aren't generally ones that we enjoy, they are just a way of avoiding discomforts.
Turning your attention to do something other than the task at hand is a temporary, short-term fix. However, procrastination can lead to guilt, regret, and disappointment that magnifies the initial stress you were trying to avoid.
Researchers say procrastinating helps us feel better when certain tasks fill us with negative emotions – if they are too difficult or boring for examples.
The Real Reason Why You Procrastinate: Its a stress reliever!
If you are a brand leader, business owner, entrepreneur, or dreamer, watch Tired of Procrastinating? Try this Instead another id by Mel Robbins. Something clicked while watching this video. Dreaming big and having extraordinarily high expectations is the root of most of my procrastination. 🤔 This is worth thinking about some more. I feel a breakthrough coming.
Any breakthrough on your end? If not, no worriers, there is still a lot to learn. Together, we are going to get to the root of procrastination. Keep going. Persist.🦋
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