Paralyzed by procrastination

Paralyzed by procrastination
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I’m late in coming up with a post for the Guild. I recently had a couple of projects that I had to work on and it was driving me bonkers. They weren’t anything I like doing but it fell upon me to do it because I was the “appropriate” person tasked to do it. I think it was because no one else wanted to do it and I got fed up with everyone passing the buck.

But it became an interesting experiment in procrastination for the last 4 weeks. And lemme tell you… It was a raging dumpster fire!

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I built up so much resistance to doing it. I waffled. I looked for walk-in customers to engage with. I saw a bunch of interesting blooper videos…

I worked on a bunch of maintenance tasks and other tasks. I knew my MIT (Most Important Task) was on my desk but I just didn’t feel like it. A thousand monkeys could be banging outside my window and I wouldn’t pay attention to them.

I guess I’ll have to start looking into procrastination as something to work on. Some techniques that I’m supposed to engage in are:

  • Eat that frog! Put the folder front and center on my desk at the end of the day. This should be the first thing I should be doing.
  • Run away and put away all of my iPads and iPhone away. Silence all notifications. Run away to a nearby coffee shop. Just get my @$$ in gear and do it!
  • Realize and understand my fears. Identify the fears. Breathe deep for one minute and then get to work on that MIT!
  • Delegate it to someone else who has the actual skills and more time available to do it.
  • Renegotiate this project. Is it something that should actually be done? Try to root out the reasons and goals for doing this project and ask the boss if it is really worth my time?
  • Create a journal and document the journey. Record the obstacles and look for possible solutions to answer the call of duty.
  • Look for tools and/or skills that can help me tackle the monster project.
  • Break down the project into the smallest next actions as needed. Rewrite the very next action into a simple command that feels easy to commit too. Sometimes it’s simple steps that can accumulate and lead to progress towards the mission objective.
  • Time block my day and reserve it for that frog. Respect that time block as if I were going to a court date or dental appointment.

I’m still working on this part of my life. Procrastination has reared its ugly head and I still struggle under the weight of fear and procrastination. I’m petrified but I think I’ll manage…

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Great post, @wilsonng.

Thanks. It was a spur-of-the-moment confession. Failing at working on my frogs or MITs and knowing that I should do it but deciding to say screw it all and ignore my better judgement.

That’s life. Documenting it helps me to go through this journey one step at a time and work on improving it.

Sometimes procrastination is you telling yourself you need something (like rest). I’ve been learning to treat it like a dashboard light — use it as a sign something might be wrong, figure out what it is, and deal with it.

You’ve had a lot going on lately @wilsonng. Just remember don’t beat yourself up for not being perfectly productive. Did your world burn down not doing those things? If not, great! That means you procrastinated on the right things at least :stuck_out_tongue:

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Neil Fiore’s The Now Habit is very helpful.

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Hi guys, my first post here. I am a huge procrastinator. Actually, I went bankrupt because of it a few years ago. Anyway, in the past 2-3 years, I have read several of the common self-help/self-improvement books on this matter (like “Atomic Habits”), but these books didn’t help much to change my way of dealing with my work-related procrastination problems.

But this two books which I just read parallel impressed me are “The 1% Rule: How to Fall in Love with the Process and Achieve Your Wildest Dreams” by Tommy Baker and “Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds” by David Goggins. Coming from very, very different directions the two books make a great package IMHO. Especially “The 1% Rule” gave me a more clear perspective and a new way to deal with my life.

Both books do not try to explain all suffering caused by procrastination or being the base for the procrastination away. They see the suffering as an inherent part of our (well) being, and thus as an incentive, not an obstacle… For me, it’s a new exciting journey of which the first steps I already made.

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Thanks for letting me (and the rest of us) know that I’m not alone with the procrastination monster. I’ll have to look for those books at my local library. Thanks for the reference on your two books.

As long as we’re striving to work on this, hopefully we’ll be making progress.

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Thanks for the book suggestions. They look like interesting reads.

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Just for clarification: in case of severe procrastination, in my experience just reading some self-help books doesn’t help at all! I tried and failed miserably.

It took me two years of working on myself with the help of a professional to get to the stage that I am able to implement some of the advice from the “1% Rule” book.

I took time to work on some severe issues and now I am slowly in the process of reinventing/recomposing myself physically (running and gym almost daily), spiritually (Yoga and meditation), and professionally (preparing to become a solo-entrepreneur).
In regard to my upcoming business, currently I am learning how to organize myself with a one-year vision, a 90-day plan, a weekly schedule and daily tasks.

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I agree completely. I don’t think there is a self-help, producitivity idea, or how-to book that will change your world overnight with one read. However, I have found that reading books on a topic that I want to improve or change makes incremental differences. Some big, some small. But almost always there is a gem hiding between the covers. Thanks.

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@Ferdinand thanks for being so vulnerable about your experiences with procrastination. I’m glad you’ve been able to get help and start the process to get better!

It’s true books are only a means of getting information – sometimes we need help from others (whether from someone to hold us accountable or someone to help us work through our issues) in order for it to make sense and make it stick.

Anyway, welcome to the Guild!

I’ve JUST gotten around to doing my MIT thats been on my list for weeks. I just can’t put it off any longer… And the annoying thing is, its a show stopper for rolling out my “big” thing to all our users (which stupidly is another step closer to a promotion for me). Its literally one of the only things holding it back…
I discovered a post a little while ago that described the 6 reasons for procrastination. I can’t for the life of me find that post anymore, but I did write down the 6 things…
They are:

  1. Lack of motivation
  2. Lack of skills
  3. Fear of failure
  4. Fear of success
  5. Boring task (not sure if this should really fall under #1, but it was called out separately on the webpage)
  6. Rebellion

What I’m trying to do is find a good way of getting round each of these issues, then for each thing I’m procrastinating massively on, try and categorise it into one of these six buckets. Once I’ve done that, I’ll have a method of getting round what I’m feeling about that task, and hopefully be able to break that cycle. Because I write everything in my Bullet Journal, I can immediately see the tasks I’m procrastinating on, and am trying to ask myself “Why” for each of them.

I also feel like there’s a missing number 7 from this list… Maybe one of you lot is able to help figure out whether this should be its own category, or that it actually falls into one of the above ones…
7. Once I’ve completed this task, it’ll open an entire sh!tstorm that I’m just not sure I’m ready to deal with right now…

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You’re probably right here! But that seems to me like it fits under “fear of failure”, simply for the reason that if it doesn’t go perfectly, you know you’re going to have a mess to clean up. But I can see the justification for something separate!

Yea, maybe… I did think that at first, then decided that the task wasn’t difficult enough to really “fail”… The task in question was filling out a form to kick off a security review of a project I’m working on, so no real failure as such, but more that it’ll likely open up a can of worms. One of those ones that when that upon completion, will add another 20 tasks to the list… :slight_smile:
But thinking about it again, maybe it does come down to “fear of failure” in that if it DOES open up a can of worms, that it would mean that some of the other stuff we’ve done has “failed”…

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It’s been many years since I read The Now Habit (mentioned above by @JohnAtl), but as I recall and interpret it this would be considered Fear of Success. Whereas Fear of Failure is obvious (everyone’s unhappy with your work and hates you forever :wink:), Fear of Success is much more insidious: “Great job! Here’s a ton more work for you to confront!” :scream: Some deeper part of your brain is thinking ahead to what comes after whatever you’re procrastinating and is sabotaging you before you open that door. So ask yourself, “what would success here lead to?”, and if some result of success is intimidating, work on knocking that down. :+1:

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I think this is the source of a lot of procrastination. I’ve tried to take a serious look at things I put off and do some self reflection as to why. It’s usually a fear I can break down and quickly figure out ways to get past it.

I also use a two minute rule. I just start and after two minutes i can quit and do something else. Usually though I continue and the dreaded task has moved forward.

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That’s great work! Just start. It works wonders. Fear is definitely a part of it as we have been trained to run away from the big Tiger. Our brain is just doing what it is supposed to do - keep us safe away from the scary stuff. To keep us in survival mode. However, we want to thrive and be productive. That is exactly what happens when you apply the 2 second rule. Very powerful. Here is a link to a TedTalk where Mel Robbins talks about the 5 second rule. Thank you for reminding us of the 2 second rule.

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The other thing that helps me beat the fear that leads to procrastination is identifying the first, smallest thing I need to get done.

For example, I’m packing my house up this weekend, and that’s a daunting task. But I spent a little time this morning breaking the task down into smaller, more granular pieces. And thankfully that’s helped. I’ll have to go a bit further, as “Pack kitchen” isn’t exactly a small task, but the act has helped me section it out in my brain to tackle it easier.