A few weeks ago during a group coaching call our coach made a comment along the lines of “95% of people admit they procrastinate and the other 5% lies about it”. At first I was quite shocked by the comment – I don’t lie (honesty is one of my core values) and I don’t think I procrastinate. So I listened to the rest of the call maybe with a little bit of a closed mind. But as the day wore on, the thought kept nagging at me… was I, in reality, a procrastinator, too? No. It couldn’t be. Could it?
I thought back to that morning before the call and how unmotivated I was that day to begin working. I had several client projects stacking up, but none that I could complete before the call got started. Even though some of them were my least favorite tasks, others were the ones I enjoyed doing the most, but I didn’t feel inspired – or in the zone – to begin. I chalked it all up to it just being a dreary day and maybe I needed more coffee.
However, points that were made during the call kept creeping into my consciousness and ringing little bells of recognition. Was I excessively checking my email that morning? Yes. Was I shuffling around papers and folders but not really doing anything with them other than saying “I can’t start that now”? Yes. Was I striking up conversations disguised as information-gathering sessions with my colleagues via IM? Um… yes.
By the end of the day I sent a message to my coach and said that I didn’t believe the 5% of people were being untruthful about procrastinating, I think maybe we just DIDN’T KNOW.
Here are some untraditional signs that you, too, are a procrastinator.
- Do you wait for the right moment to do something like start a project, have a conversation, or make a call?
- Do petting the dog and folding laundry seem like top priorities at the oddest times?
- Do you believe that you work better under looming deadlines?
- Do you have a poor sense of time in that you never can accurately guess how long something will take to complete?
- Do you dislike saying “no” to requests, so instead feel resentment having to complete a task you didn’t want to do in the first place?
- Do you lack confidence in your ability to perform a project?
- Do you fear how people will react?
If you nodded your head through most of that list, you’re probably thinking much like I did when I first had the same revelation, “No way. I had no idea that I procrastinate!”
So what to do about it?
Well first, it’s great that you now recognize your tendencies to procrastinate. Welcome into the fold of the 95% who know! Recognition is half the battle, so now it’s just the matter of shifting your thought patterns when you realize you are again dragging your feet but telling yourself you’re not.
- There is no “right moment” to do anything. You need to create the moment by either breaking down the project into smaller, more manageable increments or focus on the best possible outcome to give you that hit of happy-juice or motivation to start.
- Prioritize. Do you really have to fold laundry right this minute when a client is waiting to hear from you?
- No one really works better under stressed conditions; this is when mistakes are made. By starting on something when you’re relaxed and have plenty of time to complete it, you’re allowing your creative energy the opportunity to flow.
- Allow yourself double the time to do anything and everything. If you logically think you can run all your errands and be back in one hour… throw logic out the window and allow two hours for the traffic you’ll get tied up in, for the longer-than-you-wanted line at the bank, and for running into an old acquaintance at the corner store.
- If you have the option to decline an offer in which you really don’t want to participate, turn it down. You can’t do everything for everyone, and you certainly can’t do it well if you never wanted to do it at all.
- Perfectionism is an unrealistic dream. So start where you are now, work with what you have, and know that producing something that’s less than perfect is so much better than not ever starting.
- Don’t let your fear of other people’s possible reactions cripple your ability to start anything. Do the best you can knowing that criticism will make you better and stronger in the end. And if the opposite happens, where you build something magnificent and people start knocking on your door asking for it too – be happy! This is obviously a great talent of yours and you probably loved doing it, so now you have the opportunity to do it more.
It’s ironic how, all my life, I was proud of myself for not being a procrastinator. After all, I thought people who procrastinated were just flat out lazy. Now I know better. Now I understand that our minds like to trick us into believing we’re busy and productive, when in reality we’re just stalling.
So, the next time you find yourself feeling “unmotivated”, think about the lessons you learned here today and reassess the situation, then remove the blocks and beliefs that are holding you back!
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEBSITE? You sure can! Include this complete blurb with it: © 6/13/2012 Kimberly J. McCloskey, Professional Virtual Assistant, in her attempt to help all people improve their personal and professional productivity, shares her insight through her newsletter “Productive Pointers”. Her natural artistic abilities, organizational skills and a love for detail shine through her creative writing for blogs, newsletters, articles, information products and more for her clients. Learn more at www.VA-Partner.com.