For whatever reason, I find that procrastination is the coaching issue of the day for many of my clients. They come to the coaching session beating themselves up because they are putting off certain things. Heck! This is an age-old problem almost all of us suffer from. Let’s face it: We procrastinate around things we don’t want to do or are not good at. Many of us remember hearing from our parents, teachers, or elders, “Never put off ‘til tomorrow what you can do today.” Sometimes I prefer Mark Twain’s motto, “Never put off 'til tomorrow what you can do day after tomorrow just as well.”
Procrastination also shows up for us when we have an overwhelming task that needs to be accomplished. We look at the task and think about how daunting it is and how hard it will be to complete. If the issue requires high emotional energy (laying off a staff member, transitioning to a much larger role, settling an estate after the death of a parent), the event is magnified and we are even more likely to procrastinate.
Breaking things down into manageable chunks is often a successful strategy, but even before that, we should get clear on why this is hard for us and what we can do to get moving. Here are some questions we can ask ourselves when we find ourselves procrastinating:
- Why is this task important for me to complete? What will it be like for me once I have completed it?
- What will it cost me (or what will I have to give up) if I don’t do this?
- What is holding me back from getting started? Am I using justifications or rationalizations that are keeping me from moving forward? What might I have to “let go of” to get started?
- What is one thing I can do today to move toward my goal? What can I do tomorrow?
Sometimes we don’t do the things we need to because they don’t seem “fun.” So ask yourself, how can I make this more fun, or at least not painful? Breaking things down, giving yourself rewards for completing small steps, using humor along the way. These are just a few ideas. If all else fails, lean on the Nike approach and “JUST DO IT!”