To procrastinate or not to procrastinate

Posted October 2022

I have to be honest...I have never written a blog and writing one totally scares me! So, now I've stopped doing the thing I often do in the face of something that scares me... which is to procrastinate to a level that can only be described as advanced.

I don't know how you procrastinate but I have observed a positive to my procrastination 'technique'... it's not all negative or doom and gloom. The upside is I get other stuff done, and often the other things that get done have been on my to do list for a while. It's a case of doing the other thing allows me to know that I am doing something and being productive. As a result I am able to reduce my to do list....just not of the thing that I'm avoiding. I mention this because, if like me, you are very good at beating yourself up and have an overly loud and often unhelpful inner critic, it is important to see the nuance and detail in our coping strategies. And an important part of the nuance for me is not thinking about myself in binary, black and white terms ie I'm 100% bad or 100% good. It is helpful to be able to reframe my thinking and to notice what is helpful and constructive about my behaviour whilst also acknowledging that I am also avoiding addressing or doing something.

I am also aware that when I procrastinate it is usually because it allows me to distract myself from something else that is even scarier and more anxiety inducing. My focus is on the thing that I'm procrastinating over not the 'monster' that is behind me, if you will.

I genuinely give myself permission to pause and to take a deep breath. I find that giving myself a moment or several, depending on the circumstances, to pause and breathe, allows me to down regulate my anxiety and to become more curious about what is going on for me.

Then phase 3 starts. I can ask myself questions; how do I feel about the thing I'm procrastinating over? What concerns/worries do I have? Am I really worried about the presenting issue or is there something else that is lurking on the edges of my awareness that remains unnamed that needs to be acknowledged and brought into awareness as a result? What small thing can I do that takes me in the direction that I want to go, even if it doesn't complete the entire task?

In the name of full disclosure I don't want to give the impression that the above is a flawless plan that is executed perfectly every time I have do something that I don't want to! That said, awareness is key. It is the first, and possibly most, important step to being able to make different decisions and choices.