I have a confession. I am probably the worst procrastinator you will ever meet. Don’t try to edge in and say that you are. I know it’s me. I have more excuses than anyone I’ve ever met. There are many things that are a lot more fun to do than:
- Doing the bookkeeping
- Making phone calls
- Have difficult conversations
- Long, tedious research
Procrastination is really a habit, and one which you might not be aware you hold on to.
Here’s a quick test to see if you tend to procrastinate:
- Do you have a tough time getting started and staying on task?
- Do you find yourself completing a task that you meant to do days, or even weeks before?
- Are you sometimes stressed because you waited until the last minute to get something done?
- Do you often think that you need to do something to improve your time management skills?
- Are you regularly late for appointment?
- Why are you taking this quiz?
How many of these questions spoke to you and your actions? When I first took a quiz to see if I were a procrastinator, I was feeling pretty self-righteous at the start. Me? I specialize in helping others be more productive! How can I be a procrastinator? By the end of the quiz, I had a beat down! Yup, I’m a procrastinator. My answer to the final question was that deep down I knew this was a bad habit of mine, but I wasn’t ready to own it at the time.
It is important to become aware of habits we have, to which we are desensitized, and could be detrimental in our life. Look around you. What things are you tolerating? What areas of your life are not the way you want them to be, but because you have desensitized yourself to them, they remain the same?
For instance, if you have a habit of coming home and kicking off your shoes in the kitchen, where they then pile up, are in the way, and become an eyesore. You dislike the pile in the kitchen, but continue to kick them off there when you come home. This annoying habit continues because you do it without thinking. This is the definition of a habit. A habit is something we do so regularly, that has become second nature, with no conscious thought process surrounding it.
What’s the quickest way to break a habit?
To start to turn a habit around, sensitize yourself by performing the opposite action. Instead of putting away the shoes that have collected in the kitchen and trying to willfully dis-continue your habit of kicking them off there, do the opposite. Go to your closet, grab another pair of shoes, put them on, then go back kick willfully kick them off, adding them to the pile in the kitchen. Continue to go back and forth from your closet to the kitchen until all your shoes are all in a big pile.
Sounds a little nutty, huh? Well, yes, but so is creating an eyesore that drives you crazy!
By doing the opposite and mindfully, purposefully and willfully adding shoes, your mind will react to this opposite action. It will interrupt the habit and cause you to realize what you are doing. The next time you come home and start to kick those shoes off again, your brain will pull out this interrupter and cause you to pause what you are doing. Once you take notice of your habit, it will be easier to stop what you are doing and create a new and more productive habit, in a conscious manner.
This type of habit also applies to procrastination. When there is no time limit on getting something done, we push it off and then become desensitized to the need of getting it accomplished. You might be thinking: “Okay, so I’ve got a long list of things to do or I should call that person I spoke to at the networking event, but, I’ll do it tomorrow.” When tomorrow is now two weeks into the future, how will the person remember your conversation? How long will your to-do list now be? This kind of self-defeating action will not get you to where you want to be.
What habits do you have that are holding you back? What things do you tolerate that allow you to procrastinate even more? Take some time to become aware of these habits so you can begin making the changes to a happier and more productive way!