Putting Off Procrastination

Last week I found it hard to “get going” for some reason. Maybe it was the letdown I felt returning home from a four-day romp with my grandkids in California. It could have been the 100°+ heat I reentered here in Phoenix. Or maybe it was because I was avoiding starting on something.

I confess. Sadness and the heat figured in, but I faced a project that could propel my work to a whole new level, and I feared I couldn’t handle it. “Now you’ve done it,” I told myself, “you’ve finally bitten off more than you can chew.”

I couldn’t help noticing that instead of launching into my project, I invented urgency for other things to do first. It was imperative that I reorganize my desk, essential that I update my “to-do’s” and vital that I revise my (Christmas!) card list. Heck, even my sock drawer suddenly cried out for reordering, right now!

In the midst of all these life-or-death concerns, I remembered a saying: “Procrastination is an unwillingness to have it all.” Wow, that hit home!

I also remembered The Law of Attraction, which says that you attract more of what you focus on. When you procrastinate, you are misdirecting your focus. Because you are afraid that you cannot achieve what you truly want, you focus elsewhere and squander your energy on accomplishing less important things, simply because they’re easier to do. Oh, you may enjoy a sense of accomplishment afterward. Usually though, it’s brief—and false: you are too smart to deceive yourself, and a nagging feeling reminds you that you have put off doing what it will take to “have it all”.

When you procrastinate, it is important to (1) recognize the personal signs that you are taking a detour of sorts, and (2) employ some tricks to put yourself back on course to your real goal.

A sure sign that I’m losing my focus is a sudden concern about the state of my desk which, most days looks like someone ransacked it.

True, this appraisal is subjective; I know people so disorganized that if they saw my work space at its messiest, they would think me a neat freak. Conversely, when my partner sees my desk even at its tidiest, he cannot fathom how I find anything. The point is, you are the best judge of your own symptoms of procrastination—and admit it, you do know them when you see them!

Now to those tricks for gradually refocusing on what matters most. Here are some of mine; deduce yours from your own distinctive signs of procrastination:

· I don’t lose time straightening my desk, but I do check all the paper on it and my emails for ticking time bombs: things I may have forgotten, but which need attention. I know that if I don’t perform this “safety check,” I will suffer a sense of impending doom that will divert my focus when I begin my big project.

· Next, whatever I uncover, I schedule for appropriate action, and I carve out time on to work exclusively on the project.

· Finally, for a few moments I envision how great I will feel when I’ve finally started the project and, even better, how wonderful I’ll feel when I finish. Sometimes the only way to feel good about hard work is to imagine how splendid you will feel when it’s done.

A new week begins today. I’ve done all of the above; I’m free to focus on my project.

What signs betray that you are sidestepping doing something that will improve your life or work? Why not spend some time now to clear the decks, overcome your anxiousness and enable yourself to get on with it?

Learning to overcome your own procrastination gives you the skills to focus on—and attract—what’s most important to you. And when you have that, you have it all!

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