I thrive on productivity. So, it seemed fitting to write a blog about overcoming procrastination to help others. That is, until I experienced procrastination while writing a blog about procrastination! I couldn’t figure out what was going on. When I sat down to write; the words seemed lifeless on the page. After a while, I couldn’t get myself to return to it. Each time, it was like I was running into a wall.
So, I shelved the project until I could sort things out.
I realized that instead of writing a buttoned-up blog post listing all the answers, I needed to infuse life into it. My life. You know, the life that struggles with procrastination while writing a blog about procrastination! Whether we are creating something new, working on a project, or planning for an important conversation, we all experience procrastination to some degree.
Here are the struggles and lessons in my learning journey that may be helpful in yours.
1. Let authenticity win
While writing the first draft of this blog, my left and right brain started battling with each other. The stakes were high for each of them to win. My perfectionist/analytical mind wanted to play it safe and provide a neat and tidy list of all the answers for overcoming procrastination. “That’s what everyone is looking for, right? Answers!”
My creative mind wanted to go outside the box and make the blog post about my authentic self. The one struggling with procrastination. To a perfectionist, this is as cringe-worthy as fingernails on a chalkboard. “People want to know they aren’t alone in their struggle and to find encouragement!”
In the end, I let authenticity win. It is the side of me that needs to come out and have a voice. Something I squelched for far too long. I am learning to be courageous and fight for my authentic self to emerge. Uncomfortable, yes! Yet, it brings life, connection, and encouragement to others. The outcome far outweighs the uncomfortable.
2. Create instead of consuming
I can get distracted by consuming content rather than creating it. I procrastinate by doing more research on the topic than needed because I sometimes devalue what I bring to the table. Can anyone else relate? Research is helpful if it inspires ideas or leads to a decision. Yet, it becomes a roadblock when it doesn’t allow the knowledge already inside us to come out.
I also get sidetracked by dipping into my emails, social media feeds or shopping online. Before I know it, I am completely submerged. Minutes turn into hours, and I am no further along in my project. I am learning to become aware of what I consume that keeps me from moving forward. To trust that what I have to say is valuable and will impact others. To get rid of distractions beforehand by turning off the phone and disconnecting the internet on the computer. When we are aware of our distractions, we can start taking steps to reduce them. We get to choose.
3. Give time and space to process
My perfectionist/analytical side came out in full force when I started the first draft of this blog. I produced a lengthy list of how to overcome perfectionism. Yet, the words seemed lifeless on the page. I couldn’t even return to it for editing.
While the battle was going on in my mind, I felt like I hit a wall and couldn’t move forward. I needed to set the blog post aside. To get some space and gain clarity. Yet, I struggled with the idea. Would it show defeat?
I am learning that it’s okay to give time and space to understand the internal battle and to let it play out. Once the dust settles, we can identify which direction to go. Get out of our own way and do it for someone else. After the dust settled, I still procrastinated in picking up the blog post again. I would have shelved it longer if I waited until I was comfortable with moving forward.
You see, having a clear path doesn’t always get rid of fear. My friend asked me how my blog was coming along. She was looking forward to reading it. Her request renewed my sense of urgency to get it done. An uncomfortable project became desirable again. The wall I kept running into disappeared, and I saw my friend on the other side. I am learning to get out of my own way. To focus on how someone else will enjoy my finished work and move forward.
4. Replace criticism with compassion
My perfectionist/analytical mind is my worst critic. My thoughts can be so critical that the barriers they create seem as insurmountable as a brick wall. It caps off creativity, confidence, and keeps me from seeing the other side. At those times I stop and become mindful of what I’m saying and re-frame my conversation. I am learning to exchange critical words with compassionate ones. To treat myself with the same care I give my close friends. This act of kindness allows us to rise from the muck and mire, to take a cleansing breath, and to see what is possible.
There is a journey behind every completed piece of work, project, or message delivered. It is essential to recognize and appreciate what it took for us to finish what we set out to do. We all experience procrastination to some degree. Overcoming it is a process, one that is not neat and clean nor a one-and-done experience.
Whatever you deliver, choose your authentic self and allow it to come forth within the struggle. That struggle never goes away. Yet, there is hope in learning to better manage the process. In your journey, stick it out and see it through. Then, when you get to the finished product, you can say it comes from an authentic place, one that is infused with life.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on sharonkrueger.com.