Three myths about procrastination

  1. Procrastinating isn’t a personality trait

You can’t define yourself as a ‘procrastinator’. Sometimes you might procrastinate, other times you might not. For every time you put off doing something you can find a hundred examples of when you took action straight away. There might be patterns to when you put off taking action and when you don’t which would be interesting to explore, but the more you tell yourself that you procrastinate simply because “that’s who I am” the more stuck you will get.

So stop telling yourself unhelpful stories and give yourself a break. We all procrastinate, it doesn’t have to define you.

  1. Procrastination isn’t laziness

It could be self-doubt, it could be disinterest, it could be that you genuinely don’t know how to get started and it is too overwhelming to even think about, it might just be really HARD, you might have forgotten why you wanted to do the task at all.

So ask yourself, “if it isn’t laziness stopping me from taking action, what could it be?“. Get curious, allow your brain to look for as many answers as possible, without blame, and see which one feels most likely. Then work through it.

And if you really ‘can’t be bothered’ then accept it and allow yourself not to do it. It can’t have been that important. But if it turns out it IS important to you, then start this step all over again and get curious about the REAL reasons you aren’t taking action and don’t let laziness be an answer.

  1. Being harder on yourself is the only way to beat procrastination

It is true that sometimes we have to just stop thinking, and jump into the task in front with conviction, but often being hard on ourselves and forcing ourselves to act doesn’t help at all. It just creates more resistence and bad behaviours.

Instead, try creating good habits that last by starting slow. If you know you always put off the weekly sales report at work, start by putting 5 minutes in your diary to work on it Monday afternoon and build up that habit first rather than starting with than an unrealistic goal or beating yourself up.

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