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  • Writer's pictureKaty Lloyd

Procrastination - are we lazy, a bit scared or just don't know where to start?

I recently read the main reasons we procrastinate are, not because we don't want to do a task or are lazy, more that we either don't know how to start or are too scared to commit in case we don't live up to our own or other's expectations.

That thought hit me a between the eyes and prompted a lot of thought. I have been procrastinating on a couple of things which has been really frustrating. Starting this blog, and the getting on with my research for my Masters programme (which I am 6 months into, with 12 months to go - Well actually 10 months now as I have been procrastinating for 2 months!

These are things I both want to do, an am committed to. Why am I procrastinating? In fact I have been procrastinating on starting a blog for about 3 years now..... I am generally someone that achieves a LOT in a day. If you ask my husband - he would generally say it's generally too much and I should just sit down for a while! So why was I not able to get moving on these 2 things? I was really disappointed in myself and getting a bit panicy. My blog is a part of my Masters project plan. In technical terms it's autoethnographic research - (I had to google that too when I first heard the word). It serves as a form of qualitative research where an author uses self-reflection and writing to explore anecdotal and personal experience, connecting this to wider cultural, political, and social meanings and understandings. The plan is to blog to help me share my research journey, expand my thinking and develop my communication and engagement skills. The panic was around if I don't start - I'll be missing a big bit of my project plan!

Types of procrastinators

To get out of the starting blocks and beat this procrastination - I did a bit more googling. I came across a great article about a Joseph Ferrari's book "Still Procrastinating? The No Regrets Guide to Getting It Done", Ferrari is a professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago and splits procrastinators into three types:

Thrill-seekers (put off tasks until the last minute to get the thrill and believe they work best under pressure)

Avoiders ( procrastinate to avoid being judged on tasks)

Indecisives (difficulty making decisions, often because they’re ruminating over several choices)

I think I am an Indecisive-Avoider (Yes - I can't even commit to what type of procrastinator I am!) For both the blog and the research, I have ended up with analysis paralysis - thinking about too many options, and what others will think that I don't even start! There's also an element of being afraid to put myself right out there on the internet with the blog. What if it's not interesting, what if I don't give it a cool name etc. etc.

How to help yourself stop procrastinating

Helpfully - Ferrari suggests several solitons to overcoming your tendency to procrastinate. Most of which are pretty easy (in theory!) to put into practice so let's see how this goes!

  • Practice self-compassion - We all know it but it's good to tell ourselves. “I’m not the first person to procrastinate, and I won’t be the last.” It's OK that haven't started yet but be focused on making a start. As Jacinda says - be kind (to ourselves) and wash your hands (of the guilt)

  • Attach meaning to the task - Find a strong connection to what the task it will deliver for you others and it will be easier to get things done.

  • Start small - Ferarri flips the "can't see the forest for the trees" saying for procrastinators. All they can see is forest. So he encourages trying to see one tree, or even a few branches at a time, rather than being paralyzed by the forest.

  • Carefully choose which task you do first. Figure out what works best for you. Is it small tasks that give you some little dopamine hits, or that BIG task that you'll feel much better and more motivated once you tick that off.

  • Situate yourself in a spot that's interruption-free - This is much easier now that I am not in lockdown with my family homeschooling my two kids

  • Be aware of the “procrasticlearing” trap - Do you ever struck with the sudden urge to tidy your bedroom/house/workspace etc. before you can get started on task? I am definitley a procrasticlearer - and for me this extends to my virtual workspace as well. I tell myself I can't possibly get started with loose ends on my trello board, emails or project plan etc. Well that needs to go - out with the procrasticlearing!

  • Reward yourself - Work on the principle that something you want to do can be a reward for doing something you don't want to do. Sounds like a way to win some Netflix points to me!

  • Enlist external help - hold yourself accountable by telling others what you are going to do. Whether that's friends, colleagues or the whole world on social media

With the help of these top tips - I am about to hit publish on my first blog post. I am sitting in quiet uninterrupted space at the local library. I am making progress on my research by starting small, which feels great! Just geting one post done, reading one article etc. It's all progress. I have enlisted a few sources of external help to hold myself accountable and keep focused - including putting it out there in this blog! Once I clear some of my research to-do list then I will reward myself with some time on the couch with my kids, getting through some more of the Marvel catalogue which started off as a lockdown project last year. To be honest though, the procrasticlearing will need a bit more work so watch this space......

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1 Comment

Linda Kavanagh
Linda Kavanagh
Mar 07, 2022

I needed to read this! I am a procrasticlearer too but enough is enough. Time to start 😀

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