Painful Procrastination

I had been postponing and postponing writing my Newsletter. I’d had it in my diary for almost a week and every day that I didn’t get to it, the thought became more overwhelming and ‘mountainous’. Every day that the reminder in Outlook buzzed, I felt more burdened and (no surprise) like a failure. What a painful place to be. How often do you find yourself procrastinating on a task and getting this ‘”Ugh, I’m bad” feeling?

Later that week I was reading some emails, found the official EFT Newsletter and read one article. That led me to download an EFT Journal and like magic, I find this quote in there:

Don’t procrastinate. Putting off an unpleasant task until tomorrow simply gives you more time for your imagination to make a mountainout of a possible molehill.
– Author Unknown

 

Guess what… I immediately started writing this Newsletter! The molehill had become a mountain already. The minute I wrote the first sentence, the mountain- feeling started disappeared and it also feels like I’d earned my own respect again.

Why do we Procrastinate?

I know there are many clever theories. I can only talk from my own experience and here are the most common reasons for my own procrastination:

  • The task feels too big
  • I don’t know where to start
  • I want the outcome to be perfect
  • I’m afraid to fail at the task
  • Someone will criticize the completed product/task

Who would want to start anything if those thoughts are floating around?

How can we stop Procrastinating?

I guess you’ve also found by now that it doesn’t work to just tell yourself to “stop it”. It also doesn’t work to tell yourself to “just start” the task. There’s always another little thing I have to do first, before I can start THAT MOUNTAIN. Like wash the dishes or tidy the lounge… Isn’t it interesting how these last two normally yucky chores suddenly become very important when I have another, more daunting task to start?

A few simple tips I’ve found that works for me, and that might work for you, too, are the following. Write down each of the below sentences and fill in the blanks with your own words.

  1. “I can’t start/complete this ____ because_____”
  2. “If I start this task, I’m afraid that ________ “
  3. “If I complete this task, I’m afraid that _________ “
  4. “The downside of completing this task would be ___________”
  5. “The upside of not starting is ____________________”

If you haven’t found an answer yet, try the following:

1. What happened previously when you started/completed an important task/project? Let your mind go back to all the times you can recall where something undesirable might have happened. Someone criticized you or your work, or you were judged, or thought you failed. Write each of these events down very briefly. You can give it a ‘Movie Title’ like “My Boss criticized me in front of my colleagues”. How much does it bother you when you think about it  now, on a scale of 0 – 10?

2. Imagine yourself having completed the task. Get a clear picture of it in your mind’s eye. Now check for any voices, faces, people, or even your own voice. Is there a YES BUT…. sentence that forms in your mind? Write it down. For instance, Yes, I’ve completed it BUT it leads to _________. Or a father’s disapproving face, or a teacher’s scathing words.

3. Does the task simply appear too big? It’s a mountain and you just don’t know how to take the first step? In this case, if you know how to use mind maps, make a map of all the little bits and pieces that might have to be done for it to be complete. Or just make a simple list of all the little steps you can think of right now. The list doesn’t have to be perfect – it’s just a start, to get you going on something. You can order the list later, fill in more detail. It’s really just a step to make a start. And once we’ve made a start, the whole thing suddenly doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

So what do I do now that I know what contributes to my procrastination?

Great question and I’m so glad you asked <grin>. There are a few options.

  1. You can ignore it and carry on the same way you’ve been doing – and get the same results
  2. You can try rational thinking. Yes – last time I got criticized, but does it really mean I will necessary be criticized again? See how this works for you. In our experience, we have two ‘minds’ – the logical mind that can agree with the above, and the emotional mind, that still feels the criticism of that last experience. Hence rational thinking might help the logical mind but that ‘UGH’ you still feel in your stomach, chest or elsewhere, will not disappear – and keep stopping you from living a life of choice!
  3. My favourite tip: Use EFT to clear the emotional ‘zzzt’ you feel when you think of the possible reason for your procrastination!

If you want to try EFT for yourself to get past your “I can’t start this because….” and you don’t know how, please look at the page for the full EFT recipe. And if you still want some help with the procedure, please fThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a few free tips.

If you have a serious problem with procrastination and haven’t discovered a contributing factor, consider booking a session. or learning EFT to help yourself. Why suffer if there’s a great tool to help? What’s more – once you’ve learnt this tool, you can use it for every bothersome thing you encounter!

Take a look at our EFT Workshops to find dates that are suitable.

Quotes

"Too often we underestimate how quickly our feelings are going to change because we underestimate our ability to change them." -- David Gilbert

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