Recently I went on a beautiful vacation to Iceland. It was a week of fun, quality family time, and no responsibilities. Now that I’m home, I’m having a hard time getting back into the swing of things.
As I write these words, a pile of laundry, half-packed suitcases, and other evidence of my week of fun surround me. It’s a big mess.
So why haven’t I cleaned it up?
I’m dealing with something we all experience from time to time: procrastination. After enjoying a wonderful week off I’m feeling a bit like a petulant child who doesn’t want to come back to “adulting”.
Why do we procrastinate?
In some recent studies, psychologists have found that there is a link between emotion and procrastination. In a nutshell, people sometimes procrastinate because they are avoiding particular emotions. In my case, I’m sad that vacation is over and I feel like if I unpack and put things away, I’m admitting that I have to come back to my responsibilities.
Sometimes the anxiety about needing to do something is worse than the discomfort of actually completing the task. You know the feeling. You think about what you have to do and a sense of dread rises in your chest. You have visions of the task being really hard or taking forever. Can you think of some times in your life when you’ve been able to reflect back after doing something you had been putting off and realizing “that really wasn’t as bad as a thought it would be?” Fear is a culprit of procrastination and facing that fear by coming up with an action plan can help to move you forward even when you’re feeling stuck.
One of the problems I see a lot when I help clients work on goal setting (which is definitely related to procrastination!) is the belief that small steps don’t matter. I talk a lot with people about the importance of breaking things down into small, simplified, and actionable steps which as a whole add up to a complete task.
Have you ever struggled with procrastination? Well, today is your lucky day! I’m going to be your life coach and share some fun tips and tricks that I give my clients. Hopefully I can help you deal with your own version of a huge pile of laundry!
For the sake of examples, I’ll use my own situation to show you some procrastination antidotes.
Inject some fun into it: I could sort my laundry into hampers while listening to an audiobook I enjoy or music that makes me want to dance. I could even have a dance party where I toss the laundry into piles in time with the music (I’ve literally done this before-it’s fun!)
Break the task down into short segments of time: I could set a timer and give myself 5 minutes of break time for every 15 minutes of work time (i.e. unpack suitcase and then watch a comedy skit.)
Get support: I could call a friend or ask my husband to chat with me while I sort the laundry and unpack.
Put a carrot on a string: I could reward myself with a new article of clothing (why, because I LOVE clothes) or a dinner at my favorite restaurant after the entire task is completed. I could also start planning my next trip so that I have something to look forward to.
Create a deadline: I could give myself a deadline (reasonable and not too short if that makes it less stressful) and remind myself that I’ll have more time for what I enjoy once this unpleasant task is finished.
Imagine how you’ll feel when the task is completed: I could visualize how I’ll feel when all of my things are in their places and I can move around my dressing room with ease and how easy it will be to find things when I want them.
Well, there you have it. My tips on simple, small, and actionable things that you can do in order to overcome procrastination. I hope after reading this that you feel more optimistic about getting things done and you’re able to create your own action plan, complete with fun and rewards!