This is part 1 of 2 exploring the why and the what next of not getting things done.
It is no coincidence that writing about procrastination is harder than talking about it.
Writing feels so much more permanent so I want it to be perfect.
If you have not heard my issues with perfectionism, you can listen by clicking here or on the podcast logo below. It is a wild ride into Susan’s Brain. Take some popcorn, friends.
As I was drafting this column, I wanted to have a magic turn of phrase that will help you break out of procrastination, and when I could not find it I just didn’t write about it at all. But it kept nagging at me and rolling around in the back of my mind at inconvenient times – like 3:00 am.
How many of us are walking around in the world like this? Putting off taking action because we are frozen in time. Or fighting the wrong fight. Or fleeing from taking action by burying ourselves in busy.
I love this list from Emily Sanders (no relation) about why people may tell you they are ok – and I believe it also applies to procrastination.
At least for me, it is a list of what I tell myself about whatever it is I am procrastinating on. Let me give you a few examples.
Why Example One
One of the goals I have for my 48th year of life is to draft a book proposal. It may be a big fat SFD that sits in a drawer. Or it might be acceptable but not submitted anywhere. Or it might be submitted and rejected by every publishing house in North America.
But these 365 days will pass (AGAIN) so why not draft the proposal during those days and see what a year brings.
This was decided approximately 39 days ago and I have done exactly nothing to push this peanut forward. When I look at Emily’s list what jumps out to me is this:
THEY MAY BE SKEPTICAL THAT ANYONE ACTUALLY CARES.
I am not really sure what to do with these feelings besides sit with them. Which feels SUUUUUPER weird. It’s sort of like sharing a bench in silence with a stranger while you wait. Just awkward.
Why Example Two
I am sure I am not the first writer to feel like no one cares about what I write. Perhaps I could reach out to other authors to find out how they dealt with this.
Seems like sound advice. Enter Emily’s list:
THEY DON’T BELIEVE THEIR PROBLEM SHOULD TAKE UP ANYONE’S TIME.
CONCERN THAT IT’S NOT THAT BAD OR THEY WILL LOOK WEAK.
THEY DON’T THINK ANYONE CAN HELP THEM.
This is the part of the post where I tell you how to fix it. Or give an uplifting, humorous anecdote about resolving this quagmire.
But this is not TV where we get resolution in 30 minutes minus the Applebees commercials. I am wrestling this 800 pound gorilla called procrastination right along side you.
I do think that being aware of the gorilla at the dinner table is part of the battle though. By being aware of what could be causing the procrastination, we can truly excavate the infection instead of just slapping a bandage of time management over it and letting the actual wound fester.
I am mixing my metaphors here, but I think you get it. There are reasons for procrastination, and none of them are because you are a worthless person.
Let’s digest this piece first before we dive into other side of the issue. This is just part 1 of 2 exploring the why and the what next of not getting things done.
Sustainable You Questions
Avoiding what is really going on is not going to get you the result you want and it is hardly sustainable. Ignoring these types of signals is what drives us to numb out and want to escape our lives. Here are a few questions you can use to dig a little deeper to get to the root cause of procrastination.
1 – What would happen if you set aside judgement and tried to work with that 800 pound gorilla instead of ignoring her.
2 – What is keeping you from taking a good look at that wound, cutting out the infection and really working on keeping it clean?
3 – What would happen if you were afraid and did it anyway?