Confessions of a Chronic Procrastinator
I’m a chronic procrastinator and have been since childhood. I wrote every school paper the night before it was due, crammed for every test, and prepare for every meeting at the last minute. Putting things off is what I do best! I even put off writing this article for over a month and creating this blog for over two years. The worst thing about it is, that for the most part, I have always gotten away with it. AND I was able to somehow just ‘shrug-it-off’ when I didn’t. I actually believe that many chronic procrastinators share my story, which is why the habit can be so difficult to break.
Procrastination Makes Easy Things Hard &
Hard Things Harder
– Mason Cooley –
There are many reasons given for why people procrastinate. Here are a few of the most common ones:
- Need for instant gratification is too strong a pull
- Perfectionist syndrome
- Fear of failure
- Fear of success
- Feeling overwhelmed at facing a new task
- Feeling resistance or even resentment when faced with a new task or challenge
I could go on, but I think you get the point here. What all these reasons have in common is that they all produce the emotional responses of FEAR and RESISTANCE. Which in turn produce the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. More commonly referred to as the stress hormones. I don’t know about you, but in my experience, this just feels like crap.
Is it any wonder that we would rather, eat or drink, spend time on social media, binge watch Netflix, shop, or do anything else that is our favorite distraction. We seek out immediate pleasure as a way to counteract the manufactured stresses of the modern world. When we procrastinate and distract ourselves with whatever we find fun, it produces the hormone and the neurotransmitter dopamine. A body filled with dopamine just plain and simply feels really good!
To make things even worse for chronic procrastinators, our world is being designed specifically to provide you with dopamine hits. This is true of all entertainment, our favorite lattes, social media, and processed foods laced with the perfect salt, sugar, fat ratios to keep you hooked. In effect, chronic procrastinators are really dopamine junkies. That’s why it’s so difficult to change.
It’s also not your fault! If you are like me and where raised with sugary breakfast cereals, Saturday morning cartoons and stressed out parents, the odds have already been stacked against you! This is why willpower has never worked for you. You are conditioned to seek out dopamine.
So what can you do about it? Because you know the truth. Regardless of how many times you actually got away with writing your term paper the night before it was due, or cramming for that test, there are countless times you failed, disappointed, let yourself and others down because of this chronic habit. You may have lost out on opportunities, promotions, and wonderful life experiences simply because you were not prepared. Think about how many summers at the beach you missed out on simply because you put off eating right and exercising. Or that trip to Europe with friends you had to skip because you simply couldn’t save the money. And even though you may pretend to ‘shrug-it-off’ and be ok with it, you really are not!
For me, the wake-up call that I had to do something to put a stop to my chronic procrastination came when I was flat broke and on the verge of homelessness. I knew that I was financially in trouble and yet for months on end I just ‘put it off’. You see my favorite distractions, aside from binge-watching Netflix was shopping and hanging with friends. I would even clean-out and rearrange my closets rather than deal with my finances. By the time it caught up with me ‘cramming’ was not an option or even possible.
I tried some of the most common methods of dealing with procrastination, I’m sure you’ve come across them on the internet and for many people, they do work. I was able to implement the first two with some success. I’ll get to what REALLY helped me get over my fear and procrastination in a bit. But first you may want to try these suggestions:
1. Temptation Bundling
Temptation bundling is a concept that came out of behavioral economics research performed by Katy Milkman at The University of Pennsylvania. Simply put you bundle a behavior that is good for you in the long-run with a behavior that feels good in the short-run.
The basic format is: Only do [THING YOU LOVE] while doing [THING YOU PROCRASTINATE ON].
Here are a few common examples of temptation bundling:
- Only listen to audiobooks or podcasts you love while exercising.
- Only get a pedicure while processing overdue work emails.
- Only watch your favorite show while ironing or doing household chores.
(This is what helped me get things done while on Netflix!)
You can make a list of your own Temptation Bundles, by writing a list of some of your favorite activities and a list of things you put off and seeing which items from each list can be bundled together.
Example: Only go to your favorite coffee shop when working on writing your book or blog.
2. Make the Task More Achievable
One of the most commonly suggested ways to stop procrastination is to make it as easy as possible to get started on the avoided task and trust that motivation and momentum will come after we begin. (Movement often creates motivation, not the other way around).
Once you begin, it’s often less painful to keep working. One way to get yourself started is to use The 5-Minute Rule, which states, “When you start something new, it should take less than five minutes to do.” The idea is to make it as easy as possible to get started and then trust that momentum will work in your favor. Once you start doing something, it’s easier to continue doing it. The 5–Minute Rule overcomes procrastination by making it so easy to start taking action that you can’t say no.
Making your tasks more achievable is important because small measures of progress help to maintain momentum over the long-run, which means you’re more likely to finish large tasks.
Though these first two strategies did help me overcome procrastinating some things. They really didn’t help me with my big procrastination issues. I’ll get to what REALLY did work in a few moments.
These next two strategies didn’t work for me at all. I’m just being honest! I believe they didn’t work because they use negative reinforcement rather than positive. Remember procrastinators are dopamine junkies, we’re trying to avoid negative emotional responses. However, they are strategies that are often suggested by therapists, so I have included them here. Just because they didn’t work for me doesn’t mean that they won’t help you.
3. Make the Consequences of Procrastination More Immediate
There are many ways to force you to ‘pay the costs’ of procrastination sooner rather than later. For example, if you are exercising alone, skipping your workout won’t impact your life much at all. However, if you commit to working out with a friend at 7 a.m. three days a week, then the cost of skipping your workouts becomes more immediate. Miss the workouts and you are not only letting yourself down, but you’re disappointing a friend. You are in effect trying to use guilt to your advantage.
4. Design Your Future Actions with a Commitment Device
One of the favorite tools psychologists use to overcome procrastination is called a “commitment device.” Commitment devices can help you stop procrastinating by designing your future actions ahead of time.
For example, you can curb your future eating habits by purchasing food in individual packages rather than in the bulk size. You can stop wasting time on your phone by deleting games or social media apps. You could hide your TV in a closet or build up savings by setting up an automatic transfer to a savings account, etc.
These are all examples of commitment devices that help reduce the odds of procrastination.
My opinion on these last two suggestions – they ain’t gonna work! Not if you are a die-hard chronic procrastinator. Procrastination is an emotional issue, making yourself feel bad will only cause the chronic procrastinator to seek out a distraction and make the problem worse.
Example: You miss the workout with your friend, feel bad pull the TV out of the closet and end up binging on ice cream while watching Netflix, a double dopamine hit cocktail. I’ve been here and it is not pretty.
SO WHAT WORKED! What finally got me over my chronic procrastination. It was finding a way to make myself feel good in the present moment while reprogramming the procrastinating behavior.
(If you would like a more in-depth understanding of reprogramming negative habits and beliefs, check out my article on 15-Minute Manifestation)
Remember procrastination is an emotional issue. The procrastinator seeks out dopamine creating distractions to feel good in the immediate moment. If you have a method of making yourself feel good and reprogramming the behavior at the same time you will be able to break the cycle of chronic procrastination.
Find Your Focus – End Procrastination Without Willpower does just that.
The Secret of Getting Ahead is Getting Started
– Mark Twain –
How it works:
Find Your Focus – End Procrastination Without Willpower works by shifting your emotions immediately.
You simply listen to the detailed, science-based audio coaching session. You’ll follow the simple step-by-step instructions. You will be coached in detail to drop the emotions which cause procrastination, and then learn to choose personalized emotions for powerful motivation — immediately.
I love this type of learning because listening to someone take you through the steps, removes any resistance to confusion or overwhelm. Two common feelings procrastinators try to avoid.
How can it possibly work immediately?
Because current thoughts create current emotions. The program will show you how to change your current thoughts in a step-by-step, systematic, realistic, immediate way. Your new emotions flow directly, and immediately, from your new thoughts, which lead to new actions.
These are the results that I experienced.
I stopped procrastinating immediately. I took action immediately. I then was shocked at how quickly this worked! I was also amazed at how I was able to defeat procrastination each time it arose. I was pretty much blown away at how easy it was to just do what needed to get done once my emotions had shifted. BUT it makes perfect sense when you understand that procrastination is an emotional issue. Get the emotions under control and your response changes.
You already know what actions to take to succeed, and you already have the basic capability to take those actions. With Find Your Focus – End Procrastination Without Willpower, you’ll choose the emotions, which lead to the actions, which lead to your success. Once you have the program, you can use it again and again and again to reprogram any limiting emotion which is getting in the way of you achieving your goals and desires.
Click below to gain access… this is one thing YOU DO NOT WANT TO PUT OFF!
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