Avoiding Procrastination

Right. So. you’ve got a plan for what you need to do. That was fun. And now: Now you have to execute the plan. You know, do write, schedule. Create.

Work out. Erase and re-write. Draw, paint, programme. Sketch. There is also Look into and Evaluate. Learn. Ring up. Email, ask, check. You have to do it. Whatever IT is.

And suddenly you don’t want to.

Suddenly, the plan changes. Instead of sitting down and typing away at an email, you start checking Facebook. You don’t really feel like doing anything that’s on the plan. Tidying your room seems somehow more important.

You’re procrastinating.

There are lots of ways to help you manage this.

You have to fool yourself with easy tasks, time yourself for 25 minutes and switch off the Internet. All these things work well unless its not about actually doing it.

Let’s dig a little deeper.

Getting underneath the surface of procrastination

I have a question for you.

What are you feeling?

I’m talking about the feeling you have when you think about doing this task. When you imagine yourself doing it.

Label the feeling and say it out loud.

Are you feeling scared? Are you feeling tired? Hungry? Cross? Overwhelmed? Frustrated? Like a child? As though you can’t be bothered?

Some of these are easy to identify and manage. Food can assist with hunger and sleep with tiredness. Sometimes that’s all you need. (Large glasses of water can also help with both – often dehydration can disguise itself as hunger and tiredness is exacerbated by your body lacking water.)

Back to saying that feeling out loud. Go on. Put your finger on the feeling and say it.

Once you’ve said it, there is often a little relief. It’s about admitting to yourself what is actually happening rather than pretending it’s all ok. Pretending to yourself does not deal with anything. Pretending keeps you stuck and stuck keeps you in the same place.

A little bit deeper

Getting underneath the feeling is more tricky. Danielle La Porte suggests we should be like an annoying child and to keep asking yourself, or get someone else to ask you: ‘Why?’

Whenever I’ve done this exercise it always brings up some interesting answers.

Because I’m afraid I’m no good.

Because I’m afraid of being humiliated.

I’m afraid I’ll fail. I’m afraid I’ll lose respect. I’m afraid I’ll never get to my dream. I’m afraid everyone will think of me as hopeless. I’m afraid my parents will be disappointed. I’m afraid my friends will think I’m a loser.

As you delve deeper you realise, it’s not about this web page or this project, it’s about your self-doubt. La Porte counsels: We are terrified of joy. Scared of success, of where that will take us, what that will require us to be. It’s easier to stay on Facebook rather than face up to the fact that you’re not where you want to be yet, that your mastery is not yet acquired. Or that secret, mystifying fear that you will be magnificent, and what you’ll be like then.

Everyone who wants to create, to push themselves further on, to challenge the world – everyone has been through this.

Yet, what’s the way through?

Admit it. You’re scared. It’s terrifying. Write it down or speak it out. Scream a bit. Tell your dog how scared you are.

Keeping on

Once you acknowledge what your feeling is, the worst is over. You’ve admitted it to yourself. The pressure is off for that work. That project has had the emotion detached. It’s released. You can deal with the emotion and you can start your project.

The worst bit is what I’m about to tell you. It’ll happen again. There is no easy way to sit down, and battle through the fears. Addressing them by acknowledging them is the best start you can give yourself, but the rest requires a constant, daily recognition that it’s a struggle every time.

You just have to start typing. To pick up the pencil and make the first few marks. To write a line of code. To push the spade into the soil.

But it’s not easy. It’s one foot in front of another.

Then you’ll push through until you get to the joy.

Over to you

Let’s hear your examples of overcoming procrastination!

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If you want to raise your game but don’t know where to start, join us at Creatives Hub Live! on Tuesday January 28th 6.45pm in London. We’d love to encourage you to kickstart your creative life in 2014.

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Claire Meredith

Claire Meredith is a speaker, writer, and coach who loves to inspire people to go for what they REALLY want. She left her job in May 2014 to live in Italy and splits her time between la bella Italia and good old England. Claire has previously been co-host of Hatch podcast and blogger here at Creatives Hub. Her website is www.clairemeredith.co.uk

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