Procrastination: Identify and Resolve
Are you a serial procrastinator? Do you ever promise yourself or others that you’ll do something but leave it to the very last minute? Do you put off doing things you know should have done much earlier? “Does the phrase “A stitch in time, saves 9” pass completely over your head?
If this sounds like you, then please read on. This week’s blog will be discussing procrastination and its real meaning. The pros and cons and science behind procrastination, the reasons we do it, along with solutions to resolving it.
Postponement, adjournment, delay, stall or defer are all terms associated with procrastination. The Collins English Dictionary defines procrastination as “To put off or defer (an action) until a later time; delay”. We can delay, postpone and stall on an action because there may be some very good reasons for not taking action at that particular moment in time. CEO of a global company Lolly Daskal’s (2016) writes an article 7 reasons why we need to embrace procrastination. In it she explains that procrastination can bring wisdom, greater insight, can give time to calm situations and rationalise. That it helps to resist peer pressure, nurtures creativity, lends opportunity for clarification.
We could also suppose that this term presumes that we will use this postponement time to action something in between, whether that be through thought or deed, in order to progress from the current situation. So procrastination when viewed in these terms would actually be considered wise, beneficial and appropriate, and not something to be avoided.
However, this is not the term I refer to when I write about procrastination. No, the term procrastination I refer to is more derogatory, a none-favourable attribute. This term is best described in the Oxford English Dictionary, and that is “often with the sense of deferring though indecision, when early action would have been preferable," or as "deferring an action, especially without good reason." The American Heritage Dictionary offers the term as “To keep delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring. Other dictionaries mention, laziness, slowness, etc. When procrastination is mirrored in these terms it can become a source of anxiety and distress in your life but also detrimental to your effectiveness and reputation.
The science behind procrastination has identified that this trait is a uniquely human characteristic and something we all do from time to time. According to Timothy A. Pychyl, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Carleton University, in Ottawa, procrastination is a battle between the hugely influential Limbic System, which is where our internal warning system, emotions, instincts and memories are formed, and the pre-frontal cortex. This is the weaker, but more action driven area of the brain, which allows you to make decisions. According to Pychyl, when our brains are not consciously engaged, the Limbic System takes over and gives in to whatever makes us feel good, or something we’d prefer to do in its place.
4 Reasons why we Procrastinate
1/ Too many tasks and too little time – feeling overwhelmed
When too many other things take priority, it can feel overwhelming, but it’s often due to lack of structure, and organisation. We say yes when really we should be saying no sometimes. Be realistic on what you can and can’t do, but in order to do this you need to know what you’re already committed to doing.
The resolution: Get organised!
· Use calendars – on your phone or pc calendar pre-set alerts and share them with the appropriate people.
· A daily list of to do’s, with dates and times for focusing on the task. Detail the time you have to spend on it. Prioritise, then stick to it!
· Avoid over-exaggerating what you can do. Only list what you definitely can achieve, not what you’d like to achieve. This will allow for greater flexibility, and helps to avoid the disappointment of failure to complete tasks. The purpose is to build your confidence.
· Be assertive - say no to others requests when your schedule is getting full.
2/ Unpleasant / boring tasks
Many jobs have unpleasant or boring aspects to them; responding to emails, housework, essay writing etc. The trick is getting it over and done with as soon as possible or distracting yourself while doing the task.
· Consciously put time by and just do it! One hit! A bit like ripping off a plaster
· If a task is particularly unpleasant to you then break it down into bitesize segments that are more palatable to you.
· If a friend has the time to help, and it’s appropriate, pull them in too. Being around friends can make any task more fun and agreeable.
· Think about the end result and what you’ve achieved by doing it.
· Use the time productively, think of other things while you’re doing mundane tasks
· Housework - turn on your music and have a dance and sing along.
· Reward yourself in some small way for completing the task.
3/ Stepping out of our comfort zone and fear of failure
Fear is an emotional response to a particular situation. Break it down! Ask yourself what exactly is the fear you’re feeling? Is it rational? Have you any evidence of anything similar going wrong before? If you have, what have you learnt from that situation that could bring more positive outcomes? Our minds like to play tricks on us, and things are rarely as bad as we imagine they’ll be. Remember fear is an illusion when life is not under threat. Fear limits you from discovering your potential.
· Identify what the actual fear is and then look for ways of combatting it
· If you’re not sure how to do something, find out who have done this before and ask them for tips and advice. This is also a great way of making new contacts and friends.
· Watch instructional videos and find techniques that help you.
4/ Thrill seeking
The thrill of completing a task so close to a deadline is a bit of an adrenaline rush for some, and the reward is delivering the goods at the critical time. If you arrive just on time to a train station when you’re with a group, you may not see the point of arriving earlier. However, you may want to consider how other individuals, who are not thrill seekers, react and feel when they are waiting on you to deliver or arrive. This can often be a source of great stress and anxiety for them.
· Take others emotions into consideration. Agree a time and date that you’ll deliver the goods
· Turn up 10 minutes earlier than you would normally do. This will give others more confidence in you and help to relax those around you. This will probably increase your reputation with your peers as being a trustworthy and reliable individual.
Now that you know what the term procrastination truly means, why we do it and what we can do to resolve it, you can now make decisions to decide even if the task actually requires doing at all.
Decide early on whether you will do it, or ditch the task or idea completely. Be honest with people. This will save your reputation and give clarity to those around you as to what your intentions are, and more importantly what you’re not prepared to do.
If you have the time I would love to hear your feedback from this week’s journal article. Or follow me on Twitter: @asterialifeC
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My Weight Loss Journey
In this week’s blog I just wanted to give you a little update on what I’ve been up to, and today I’m talking about my weight loss journey since November 2016.
For the past 7 months I’ve been on a weight loss program with my local slimming club. Prior to joining the club I’d gradually been putting on the pounds and knew I needed to lose weight. I could do all the things I enjoyed doing, but I was finding it difficult to fit into the clothes I liked, and my fitness levels were poor so I was starting to feel not quite myself.
A good friend of mine suggested I join her at the slimming club. Not one to turn down a challenge I went along with her, a little nervous but with an open mind.
My first weigh-in was a bit of a shock! I weighed far more than I’d predicted, and that hurt, really hurt. I stayed to listen to the talk; which the coach does every week and decided I’d give their plan a go. What did I have to lose other than a few pounds?!
The first week didn’t seem too difficult, so when I was at the following weeks meeting I thought I’d have lost a couple of pounds. Imagine my surprise when I found that I’d lost 7.5lbs! I was astounded. Just goes to show how many naughty things I was eating usually!
Week on week I’ve continued to lose weight. Sure, there are some weeks I don’t lose anything, and every now and again I put on half a pound or so usually due to special occasions and holidays. I think you should allow yourself a few treats as long as you get right back on the diet horse.
Seven months in I’m still losing weight and today I went to my meeting and found I’d lost 2.5lbs this week. I feel so much healthier and I’m fitting into clothes I haven’t done for years which is another bonus!
I would love to hear your comments, and please share your weight loss journey with me.
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In this blog I thought I’d tell you about one of my great pastimes, the allotment, and how it came to be.
For about 15 years now I’ve been working on a couple of allotment plots with my neighbour. I got into the allotment world by complete accident. Literally!
I’d been skiing in Morzine, in the French Alps, when a freak accident had me air-lifted to hospital. Very embarrassing. I was diagnosed with torn ligaments on my right knee. Ouch!! It still makes me shudder today.
When I returned home I had to take three months off work, under strict orders from my GP. As you can imagine, time laid very heavy on my hands, and I was getting very down. So my friend and neighbour invited me onto her allotment. She said it would be good for me to get out in the open air and do something constructive. I’m glad to say from that point on, I never looked back. I was hooked!
It just goes to show you that sometimes good things can end painfully, so that better things can come together.
Anyway, I thought you’d like to see a little gallery of our allotment. I’ll blog about this from time to time, so that you can see what I’m up to on it. I hope you enjoy my little gallery of flora and fauna of our allotment, which my neighbour and I lovingly care for.
I would love to hear your comments, and please share with me your photos of your allotment or garden.
Discover your star potential.