Stop Procrastinating and Start Feeling Free
It’s interesting to me when certain themes start popping up in my life and with my clients. I always try to pay attention to patterns that seem to be speaking to me. In the past week, I have had at least 5 conversations about procrastination and how it can bring a sense of deep frustration to someone’s life. Now, up until this point in my life, I don’t think I have ever identified with being a procrastinator, but through these conversations with others, I am starting to realize that maybe I do have a few of these tendencies.
It’s not easy to admit that I procrastinate…especially because I am a Life Coach. A Life Coach should be the most disciplined person on the planet, right? A Life Coach never struggles because they have their shit together; otherwise they wouldn’t be coaching others, right? HA! Wrong! Couldn’t be further from the truth for me.
There probably are Super-Humans in the world who are made of pure willpower and steel that don’t struggle with completing tasks. This, my friends, is not me. My entire approach to my business is that I want to be real. I want to share my struggles. I want to be honest and open about the stuff that I am not getting done. I also want to share how I cope with it. I want to show you that yes, the struggle is real, but there is also a way to overcome it. It’s definitely not easy, but it is possible.
Being effective in your daily life is all about knowing yourself and your behavioral tendencies. We must understand what we are working with before we can enact a game plan to overcome the tough stuff.
What I am beginning to realize is that when we procrastinate, the problem is not necessarily because we are lazy or enjoy putting tasks off, which is a common belief of procrastinators. News Flash! We aren’t lazy at all! We are most probably just dealing with what feels like lack of freedom in our life. We are choosing to focus how we are restricted – all the things we have to do or the things we cannot do in favor of another task.
When our days are constantly ruled by external obligations for work, our children, our friends, etc., we don’t have much freedom to decide how we want to spend our time. When a free hour pops open in our day, it is hard for us to use that time to be productive. Instead, our first thought is, “Dang, I never have time for myself. I am going to sit here and watch Netflix for a bit.” And for the hour we watch it, we sure do enjoy ourselves.
Now, let me be crystal clear when I say this: I think it is important that we DO take time to do whatever we want to do. This is one of the purest forms of self-care. Self-care is important for us so we can recharge to continue living our fast-paced lives. I am a full proponent of watching that Netflix show when you have some downtime. However, if we sit and watch Netflix or scroll on our phones for so long that we are neglecting the tasks on our To Do Lists, an issue may arise. This is where we move from practicing self-care to becoming a procrastinator.
So how do we find the balance between allowing ourselves time to chillax but also being productive? It is all about feeling free to live our life in the way we see fit and being intentional with our game plan for the day. No matter how many external obligations we have, we do have the power to choose the way we spend our day. It may take some uncomfortable moments of saying “no” or it may take some strategic planning in the morning, but we (and no one else) can control how we spend our waking hours. This is where mindset comes into play.
We can essentially shift the way we perceive our busy days by flipping from: “My day feels restricted because of my obligations” to “I am free to choose how I spend my time.”
The way I most effectively deal with my procrastination tendencies is time blocking. Every morning, I wake up and I write out my schedule for the day. First, I write in the scheduled events and then I fill in the rest with tasks that I know must be completed. I also strategically place time in my day for myself. Knowing that I will have 30 minutes of “me time” at some point in my day keeps me focused during the hours I need to be productive. As an example, at 2:00pm when I am experiencing the afternoon slump, I really want to take a nap or surf the web, but I know that at 4:30pm, I have scheduled in time for reading for 30 minutes. The simple fact that I will have time for myself later motivates me to keep to the task at hand.
I also don’t have a full 30 minutes every single day to myself. Some days I only have 5 minutes, but I am very intentional about how I will spend those 5 minutes. Sometimes, I do a quick meditation. Other days, my “me time” is eating lunch outside in the sun. I have also scheduled in time for a manicure, a call with a friend, a walk in my neighborhood, craft time with Lucy, and even a quick nap.
Scheduling in time for yourself can feel uncomfortable at first. The tiny voice in your head will scream at you saying, “You have so many other things you could be doing. This is not the most important thing!”
We must shut this voice down. We must zoom out from the intricacies of our day in order to realize that through prioritizing ourselves for a short time each day, we ultimately will be more productive because we will feel increased freedom. We are choosing how our day is spent vs letting the world dictate what needs to be done.
The other option? We continue to feel restricted, and therefore, our minds and bodies are starving for “me time.” When we are finally graced with a few minutes or hours to ourselves, we don’t even know how to react, so we just sit and veg out for far too long. Then we feel regret for what we could have accomplished with this time.
Procrastination is simply a by-product of not having enough time for ourselves. In this crazy world, this is a common problem that I believe we all face, but it is a problem that we can overcome. There is hope.
Start with just five minutes a day. Put it on your calendar or set your alarm. Pick a specific activity that you will do JUST FOR YOU. When your alarm goes off or your calendar reminder pings, you simply move to your self-care action as if it was the most important task on your To Do List for the day. Try this for one week. Then continue to do it for a month. After you have taken full control of your schedule, notice your productivity vs your procrastination.
And remember, we are in control of how we spend our time! Be intentional and show yourself some love. You deserve it.