Getting to “Done”: Master Your Procrastination as a Strategic Tool

In an earlier post (Dealing with Procrastination as Anxiety 5/11/16), I noted that most of the procrastination literature tends to focus on two strategies:

  1. setting S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic) goals, breaking those goals down into smaller components, and
  2.  rewarding yourself when you complete those smaller chunks.

These are both very good strategies.

Procrastination as Anxiety

I suggested a three step process based on The Emotions as Tools Model and the idea that procrastination is basically fueled by the emotion of anxiety.

The three steps were:

  1. Accept and Validate Your Anxiety.
  2. Turn Anxiety into anticipation and excitement. (eustress)
  3. Let the excitement motivate you and move you past your procrastination.

These three steps remain relevant as long as you can identify the anxiety which underlies and perpetuates your procrastination.

Procrastination and factors other than anxiety: Mastering Procrastination

But, what if something else (either as a unique factor or in combination with anxiety) elicits your procrastination?

I’m suggesting that you approach procrastination as if it were an emotion. In all my posts, I talk of emotions as tools that provide you with information about how you perceive and interact with your surroundings.

Procrastination is a behavior not a feeling.¬† But, you can look at your behavior as a “messenger” and learn to master it.

Mastering your procrastination involves assessing what is going on with you and your choice to procrastinate and choosing a more adaptive response rather than the avoiding/delaying reaction which constitutes your procrastination.

The mastery process of dealing with your procrastination requires:

  • validating the procrastination
    • accepting instead of getting mad at yourself for procrastinating,
  • assessing the message of your behavior
    • what is leading you to avoid the important task and focus on the urgent task which is demanding your attention,
  • noticing what you are gaining by procrastinating
    • avoiding an uncomfortable task,
    • being forced to accept that you are not up to or sufficiently prepared for the task
    • accepting that you were not being assertive in making it clear that the task was not appropriate for you or in saying “no”,
    • denying your anger because the task was forced on you
    • etc
  • attending to what you are telling yourself to justify your procrastination,

Moving past your procrastination by making a choice.

Once you understand the message of the procrastination and what your procrastinating is doing for you, you can decide how you want to respond to and deal with your delaying/avoiding behavior.

Possibilities include:

  • Setting better goals
  • Taking a different approach to the task
  • Choosing not to complete the task

Make a plan and get to work.

I welcome your comments.


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