Procrastination and relying on stress

Anyone who regularly procrastinates will tell you that they want to do the thing but they just keep putting it off. Often when we procrastinate we justify it to ourselves by prioriting things with low urgency that still give us that good feeling of that comes from getting things done.

We tell ourselves we’ll start later or tomorrow and we convince ourselves that that we still have enough time to get it done.

But what tends to happen is we just continue to put things off more and more. We do this until our stress levels start to increase and we reach the point where if we don’t start now we’ll miss the deadline.

And so you finally begin.

I had a recent experience with procrastination and once the work was complete I ended up reflecting on my behaviour.

When you get into the habit of choosing to procrastinate until the last possible moment, you train yourself to rely on stress to get things done. And so the next time you have a deadline you’re unable to find the motivation because you’re waiting for the adrenaline to kick in.

I think there are 2 main ways to stop procrastinating.

The first way is to experience things going wrong as a result of your procrastination. When our habits have negative implications this encourages a change in behaviour. It might start with you giving yourself 5 days for something instead of two and slowly build up until you become someone who always makes sure they have enough time.

The second is to just start straight away next time. We tell ourselves it’s difficult to start and just decide that it’s true when it’s not at all. Starting takes a little effort and commitment but it’s not as challenging as you tell yourself.

It’ll probably help to remind yourself of the benefits of starting straight away like being able to work at a steady pace instead of having to cram everything into a short period of time.

If you’re someone with a habit of procrastinating, it might not seem easy to change but it’s definitely possible.

Don’t just talk to anyone

I think I’ve used the phrase talking helps at least half a dozen times on this site (turns out I was exactly spot on as shown below).

Talking helps

Making a breakthrough

Worth seeking advice from

Managing stress and deadlines

When you don’t have anyone to talk to

Unexpected but needed

I say it because that’s what has works for me and like everything I share here it comes from my experience. If this was around 3 or 4 years ago things would have been very different. Back then, I wasn’t talking about the challenges that I was facing or things that I struggled with because I didn’t know how.

Plus, at the time I didn’t think that talking would help.

But I also think a lot of people forget to mention that it’s more than just talking to anyone.

For example, the person that is feeling suicidal might not to find much solace in talking to their friends. Their friends aren’t equipped or trained to help in that kind of situation.  Friends not knowing what to say doesn’t make them bad people.

Instead they might find it more helpful to talk to a professional, someone with training or someone who can relate to their experience.

Further to that, think about you want the outcome from talking to be. Of course there’s no magic fix but if you just want someone to listen and leave you feeling hopeful, talking to the person that will just dismiss your issues probably isn’t the best idea.

And if you don’t have anyone to talk to, that’s okay too.

If you live in the UK or Ireland call Samaritans on 116 123.

For anyone else the country you live in probably has a helpline you can call too.

Tending to your needs

Now might be the perfect time.

If you find yourself stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, you might also feel a little helpless.

But the chances are you actually have a pretty good idea of what you can do to help yourself.

Rest, put your phone down, turn off your tv or computer, phone a friend, stretch…

However, despite knowing what to do and knowing what will help, we refuse to tend to our own needs.

People will often say things like I don’t have time to rest or I’m too busy to take a break.

But the truth is that mindset comes from not valuing taking care of your well being.

It might feel strange at first but it’s much better for you to regularly rest from life than to be forced to rest every time you work yourself into the ground.

 

She carries it with her wherever she goes

If you’re wondering what she carries with her, the answer is fear.

It’s in her voice, the way she talks. You’ll hear the words not quite flow because she’s second guessing herself, so worried about not saying the wrong thing that she can never say the right thing.

It’s in the way she walks, with her head down and no eye contact. She sort of stomps along as if to make her presence known but all she wants to do is hide.

And if you watch her you’ll see it in the way she picks at her fingers, fidgets in her seat and constantly observes her surroundings as though there is something to fear.

But there is something to fear, at least there is in her world.

There’s mistakes, embarrassment and comparison.

And it’s in the way she moves. She’s so tense and rigid that it feels uncomfortable to relax her muscles.

She is so full of fear and she carries it with her wherever she goes.

If she could only let it go it would change her life and she knows it but she doesn’t know how.

Even when she can’t feel it, it’s still there lingering.

But most people have no idea and so they just think she’s a little odd but she’s just trying to be normal.

Bouncebackability

Turns out this is a real word, not one that I made up!

It’s pretty self-explanatory:

a person’s ability to bounce back from a challenging situation

For example, you attend an interview and don’t get the job.

Do you wallow and internalise it? Convince yourself that you’re not good enough, that you’ll never get a job because if this job didn’t want you then there’s no hope left in the world and you might as well end it all now.

Or on the flip-side do you think ‘ Oh, that’s a shame, I’ll just find something else’ and continue your search.

The first reaction could take days for you to bounce back from whilst the second reaction shows minimal straying from your usual self.

The first reaction is pretty dramatic, but I’ve been there. A few years ago, I was anxious, depressed and unemployed convinced that my circumstances would never change.

My ability to bounce back was poor.  However, I can now say that my bouncebackability has improved tenfold. If I found myself unemployed tomorrow it’d be a totally different experience.

It’s a mental thing really, you have to change the way you process things.

Fear of the new

Just stick with what you know and don’t explore anything new.

That is the voice of my anxious self which sometimes dominates as my inner monologue.

I’ve learnt to not listen to that terrible advice anymore because when I did, I was miserable. It’s quite fascinating when the thing that you feel you need to do in order to feel ‘safe’ also causes you a lot of problems.

I remember thinking how strange it was that despite doing everything ‘right’ things weren’t going so well.

Then I discovered the thought/idea that I could change myself internally which would ripple outwards and cause my life to change. I remember thinking that it must have been a sort of magic that that was possible and sometimes I still refer to it in that way for fun but also because I don’t actually have a strong knowledge of how the mind or neurology (along with all the other ologies) work so it may as well be magic.

Fear of the new is something that still effects the way I live but it’s different now. I don’t give the voice of my anxieties centre stage as often and I practise little methods that work for me.

It’s like feel the fear and do it anyway for people that fear the little things.