Procrastination is the Thief of Time ~ Edward Young
Yes, the volume of work has increased in this age of immediate gratification and instant access, but personal habits and self-defeating behaviors also account for the back log of work.
When employees complain about being overwhelmed and not having enough time, you have to look at what their project load is like, but don’t discount that personal habits may be at play also.
Procrastination is one of the most common self-defeating behaviors, and it is often tied to others like perfectionism and multitasking, inability to focus, and poor time management skills.
Why do we procrastinate?
I’ve heard all the excuses “I work better under pressure. I’m so busy, I have so much to do I can’t get to it. I can’t do it because I don’t have time to make it perfect. It’s boring or I don’t know where to start.”
These are just a few of the reasons I’ve heard personally why folks procrastinate on their dreams.
Which one do you say all the time?
There’s no shame we all do it. The problem is when procrastination becomes a habit that’s hard to change.
If you want to start controlling your procrastination habit today, first understand the real reason why you procrastinate.
It’s not about discipline, it all starts in your brain.
Let me break it down. Don’t worry, I’m not going to make it complicated.
You may have heard about the Lizard or reptilian brain. This refers to the limbic system which exists to pretty much keep us alive. Simply put, it works by pushing us towards pleasure and keeping us away from pain.
Our brains are programmed to scan for threats 3-5 times a second. We aren’t conscious of doing it. This is really important. Back in caveman days, this system would be the first line of defense when the saber tooth tiger came looking for a snack. This system triggers the fight or flight response.
The problem is that once the limbic system is flipped on, our “rationale” brain called the Pre-Frontal Cortex or the PFC for short—can’t take over. The PFC is like the CEO of your brain. It’s the system responsible for things like reasoning, time management, self regulation, problem solving, you get the idea. Basically, the stuff we need to do to stop procrastinating.
For example, we think about doing something like starting a business, changing jobs, stepping out on a limb.
We start dreaming and the butterflies start fluttering. It all feels good at first. Then we start thinking about it and our emotions get involved. It all starts to feel really big and impossible. We work ourselves up so much, that the limbic lizard brain kicks in to protect us from ourselves.
The lizard says “Hey, you’re getting pretty worked up over this new idea and it seems to be freaking you out. Your body is acting all scared like when that tiger was coming for you. I’m going to help you out and keep you away from that big idea you just got. Come on, let’s go play on Facebook. It’s safe.”
Once the lizard takes over, you need the right strategies to bring it under control.
Trick the Lizard Brain
When you feel panicky, do some deep breathing. No joke this works I tell the kids all the time. Take a deep breath in to the count of four, 1-2-3-4 hold it for three seconds and then slowly exhale for about seven seconds. Repeat for about a minute or two if you can. It will make a HUGE difference. Make sure you’re sitting down on something stable when you do. Some people get light headed.
Okay let’s keep calming the lizard down.
Stick a label on it
It’s easy to avoid thinking about what we’re feeling, but actually putting a label on what we’re feeling helps us get back in our rationale mind.
Acknowledge that when you think of whatever freaked you out, you feel scared/excited/worried. Name the emotion. Don’t run from it.
A little fear is healthy especially when you are pushing your work to another level, but you can’t let it stop you.
Now get ready to ask the tough questions
With the CEO back in control and the lizard in time out, you have to dig into figure out what your roadblock is abut the project and get cracking on your solutions.
- What Challenges you about the idea?
- What are you scared of the most? (Is it that you’ll fail, folks will think you’re crazy, laugh at you?)
- Do you have the skills you’ll need to tackle the project or do you need to do some skill building?
- Do you know where to start to make things happen?
- Are you waiting to do it perfectly? If so isn’t done better than none?
- Is it going to be painful, uncomfortable, risky? If so, how can you minimize it?
- What’s the worst thing that can happen to you if you act on this thing?
- What’s the best thing that can happen to you if you act on this thing?
- Who do you have in your corner to support you?
- What will you be able to do then that you can’t do now?
- How much better will things be?
Once you’ve answered those questions, keep imagining what your life will be like once you take that big step.
Need someone in your corner? It’s a judgement free zone, so don’t worry about looking the fool. Your success is waiting for you to put the lizard in its place and step things up. Request your complimentary strategy session so we can talk about what’s holding you back!