During my time as a Procrastination Coach, I’ve seen many people stay in the throes of procrastination, while others dramatically reduce their procrastination.
Here is one of the biggest factors that contributes to successfully reducing procrastination:
Hearing your internal narrative and questioning it.
Notice that these are two separate and equally important steps.
Because you can’t question your narrative if you’re not even hearing it.
Take these common procrastination-producing thoughts, and the feeling they likely create for you:
I can do it tomorrow: Apathy
It’s too hard: Defeated
I don’t know where to start: Confused
I don’t have time: Overwhelmed
I don’t want to do it (but I have to do it): Resentful
The fact that these thoughts pop into your head automatically is not a problem—it’s just the reality of having a human brain.
It’s only a problem if you blindly believe yourself and don’t pause to fully question your own default assumptions.
Here are some examples of pausing to fact check yourself—in 5 minutes or less:
I can do it tomorrow: I can definitely do it tomorrow. But do the benefits of waiting until tomorrow outweigh the benefits of doing it now?
It’s too hard: Is it really as hard as I think it is? If it is, what if that could actually be fun and challenging? What will it require of me to do this hard thing, and how will I feel after I accomplish it? And, what parts are not as hard as I think they are?
I don’t know where to start: If I did know where to start, where would I start? Who has done this before and where would they start?
I don’t have time: How long will this thing actually require? Is it true that I don’t have that amount of time? Is there anything else I could dump, delegate, or delay to free up some time? If it’s not really about the time, what is this actually about?
I don’t want to do it (but I have to do it): Is it 100% true that I don’t want to do it? What are the reasons I do want to do it? What are my other options here?
Fun fact: I hate teeth, so it pains me to use this metaphor, but it’s the best one I’ve heard for this topic
Questioning your thoughts is just wiggling them loose, like a tooth.
A wiggle here and a wiggle there lets you “pop” loose a thought pattern, which creates space for possibility.
Seeing possibilities is the antidote to being stuck in familiar but unproductive procrastination patterns.
P.S. If you’d like to wiggle loose your most prevalent procrastination-inducing thoughts, the best place to be is Half-Finished to Done, LIVE, the meeting place for soon-to-be former procrastinators.