• Advice

Beating the procrastination bug

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Spring has been a long time coming in the Northeast United States. The weather is a reminder that procrastination dogs many of us. At the beginning of the year—when we were all energetic and enthusiastic about our lives—I wrote about setting goals.

Revisiting your 2018 goals

I suggested you think about goal-setting in quarterly chunks. Well, we’re in Quarter 2 and the second chunk of the year has begun. I imagine many of you are getting hit with that little disease I call procrastinitis.

I have to admit I suffer from it. I’m a coach who struggles with procrastination. It’s particularly noticeable when I’m waiting for spring.

Not with everything I do, but with enough that sometimes I feel like a fraud advising my clients on their procrastination problems. But after working with some very successful people and talking to several well-known coaches, I realize that many of us suffer from some form of procrastination, frequently.

Curing procrastination

There’s a lot of internet advice on beating procrastination, most of which works for me for a few days or a week and then I'm back to procrastinating. So what do I recommend?

I’ve come to think of my procrastination as a form of addiction. My procrastinating behavior will always be with me. I will always need to be mindful—but I can learn to manage it.

Sometimes we know exactly what we’re procrastinating—filing taxes, for instance, or cleaning the house—but other times we procrastinate and we’re not even in touch with it. We’re checking our email, telling ourselves we’re conducting business, when in fact, we’re procrastinating some task.

Get in touch with your procrastination habit

Here are some questions to help you begin to unpack your particular brand of procrastination:

• What are you procrastinating? Why?
• Ask yourself again, why? Don’t be afraid to go deeper & explore your psyche.
• What is your procrastination doing for you? Are you afraid of something?
• Often, procrastination is keeping us safe from some emotion. What?
• Being found out? Being vulnerable?
• Are you procrastinating to protect your ego?
• Are there any patterns in your procrastination?
• Do certain tasks or people trigger your procrastination?
• How does your procrastination show up?

I believe we each have our own brand of procrastination. Getting in touch with how and why you procrastinate will go far to help you come up with techniques to manage the behavior.

Customize your solution to your needs

For example:

I procrastinate when my ego is involved.

We often engage in tasks that our fragile egos get invested in—tasks like writing. I often procrastinate sitting down to write because underneath it all I’m afraid of putting myself out there. I’m afraid that what I write will be criticized. So instead of dealing with my feelings, I procrastinate the task.

My technique: I attack this procrastination in two ways. First, I acknowledge the "self talk" that’s telling me my writing won’t be any good but sit down and begin the writing anyway. Second, I sketch out a quick outline of what I want to write. An outline provides me with a roadmap and lets me refocus on the task of writing rather than the feeling involved.

Boost your energy

I procrastinate when I’m simply low-energy.

We all have low-energy days. Maybe you’ve been running hard for a few days or you didn’t get enough sleep. You need to get a task completed because you’re on deadline but you’re tired and "don’t feel like it"—what to do besides grab more coffee?

My technique: movement. Depending on the time I have available, I’ll either do yoga stretches while concentrating on how my body feels. Or if time permits, I’ll head out the door for a brisk 20-30 minute walk. The key, though, if you engage in either of these two practices, is after you’re done moving—get right down to work!

Heidi is an independent, certified life coach and strategist with several decades of experience in the corporate and non-profit sector. She uses the power of books to help her clients reach the next chapter in their life journey. To get free resources and a weekly newsletter sign-up on her website: