Michael was going to be late…again. Sitting in traffic, feeling his heart racing, cursing at the drivers and stoplights in his path, he knew the person he was most upset with was himself. He’d been up for at least two hours before he needed to leave for his shift, but somehow found himself here, rushing and panicked, again. Last week his boss told him if he was late one more time, he was going to be written up. He looked down at his watch, knew he wasn’t going to make it, and slammed his fist on the horn. He hated doing this to himself, but wasn’t sure how he could stop.
Lisa was a hard worker and had an eye for details. She valued doing good work, and wanted every detail of her projects to be perfect. This often caused conflicts for her, as she would spend too much time on tasks that weren’t a high priority. She was known for missing deadlines, and her co-workers and boss would often get frustrated with her lack of follow through. She was starting to dread going to work, and knew that she needed to make a change before things got out of hand.
Casey wanted to be a teacher more than anything. She was a sophomore this year, and though she loved her classes, she despised homework and papers. Whenever something was due, she found herself cleaning her room, going to the gym, or doing chores for her parents – all things she would otherwise dread. It was like she would rather do anything than face a deadline. Last night she stayed up all night writing a paper that she had known about for months. After turning it in, she felt sick from all the caffeine she’d needed to stay awake. Her eyes were red and sore, but she couldn’t rest yet. She had a midterm tomorrow, and hadn’t even begun to study. She knew something needed to change, but felt overwhelmed thinking about how to start.
If you’ve ever struggled with procrastination in Nashville or are looking for counseling about time management, you’re probably either laughing or sweating thinking about the scenarios above. While you might associate procrastination with feelings of guilt, laziness, inadequacy, fear, poor choices, poor time-management, lack of discipline, immaturity, or even lack of intelligence. In reality, procrastination is just avoiding something you need to do.
Why do I do procrastinate?
We wish there was an easy answer to this question…but there usually isn’t. Sometimes, it’s about creating the right process or strategies to help you prioritize and manage tasks. The right calendar, apps, and prioritization system can go a long way. However, often the root of procrastination goes deeper. Here’s a peek at some of the more serious reasons people aren’t managing their time effectively or are putting off work.
- Seeking Perfection – Trying to be perfect can be a tremendous time suck and can psyche you out from even starting a project. Perfect only exists in the imagination and photo-shop. It’s not real, and the time you spend trying to get there, or worse, worrying about getting there, is time you could be using to do something imperfect, but really, really, great.
- What if it’s not good enough? – Anxiety about what people will think of your work – or you, the work-maker- can be paralyzing if you don’t keep it in check. You can’t control what other people think of your work – but chances are, you are your biggest critic. And, you know what you can control? Giving it a good shot – instead of worrying and putting it off.
- You don’t really want to do it – If you don’t feel connected to what you’re doing, or you don’t believe it’s important – it’s hard to feel motived to do it.
- You have no skin in the game – Similarly, if a project has been assigned to you by someone else, and you don’t feel included in the plans/goals, you might not feel as committed to the work or outcome.
- Confusion – If you aren’t clear on what it expected, it can be hard to get a project off the ground. Lack of clear directions, expectations, or protocol, and you can find yourself stuck. A few good questions can go a long way towards getting started.
- You don’t know what you don’t know – The unknown can be scary. Sometimes, we think we’d rather stick with the crap we’ve got, than risk the potential of something that could be worse. We’re usually wrong.
- In the Deep End – Sometimes, we just get over our head. We can take on too much – or don’t have what we need (abilities, time, training, or skill) to complete a task.
- What if I am good enough? Sometimes, success can actually be pretty scary too. If I succeed, then what? What will people say? Will I be able to handle it? Take another look at #6.
Nashville counseling at Change, Inc. can help with time management and procrastination issues! Get started today by calling us at (615) 601-1165, or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Is this really a problem?
In a day and age of hurried text messages, frantic multi-tasking, numerous inboxes, and caffeine withdrawals, it’s no surprise that time management and procrastination seem like a part of life one dreads but accepts, like taxes. Many who struggle with procrastination don’t realize the impact it’s having on their life or that there might be another way. Here are some strategies you can try on your own to help you get to the other side:
- Be nice.You know that saying about if you don’t have anything nice to say…well it’s true for the way you talk and think about yourself too. Telling yourself that you are good enough, smart enough, brave enough, disciplined enough – well, it’s the first step in believing it. Practice often.
- Be real. Remember what we said about perfect not being real. It’s true. Remind yourself that doing your best is enough. Say it again. My best is enough. I am enough.
- What’s under the rug? Catch yourself in procrastination mode? Check it out. What are you thinking, feeling, worrying about? Be honest with yourself. Whatever you are pushing under the rug is better out in the open where you can see what it is and decide what to do about it.
- Cost/Benefit Analysis.Are you spending time on the things that really matter to you? Does your investment of time give you the return that you are looking for (financial, wellbeing, progress towards a goal)? If the benefits don’t balance with the costs – it may be time to re-evaluate.
- Have a vision. Know what you want to accomplish. Write it down. It sounds simple, but most people don’t have a clear vision of what they are really working towards. You need a destination before you can find the best route to get there.
- Treat yourself: It’s important that we take time to celebrate our successes and milestones. When you succeed, reward your hard work. Create your own incentive plan and stick to it.
- Lean in: Whether you are scared of failure, the unknown, success, or something else – try to lean into it. The things that really matter to us usually require facing some level of fear to get there. Take it slow, be kind to yourself, and take the first step towards whatever goal you’ve been putting off till later.
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