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Linda Dessau : Understanding & Overcoming Procrastination

Understanding and Overcoming Procrastination

By Linda Dessau

Whenever I've worked on 'de-cluttering' my living or working space, I've always found that it's the unfinished project — whatever I'm procrastinating about — that takes up the most room.

Physically, it's a constant reminder of something I tell myself I SHOULD be doing. Mentally, it consumes my thoughts and diverts my attention from the present moment.

Emotionally, it weighs down my heart and nicks away at my confidence.

In this article, I invite you to consider how procrastination, as a form of self-sabotage, shows up in the different areas of your life.

Understanding Procrastination — Why do you procrastinate?

Maybe your physical surroundings and your 'systems' of organization are getting in your way. For example:

  • My workspace is too messy
  • I'm too busy

Maybe distracting or debilitating emotions or thoughts are getting in your way. For example:

  • I'm afraid — afraid to fail, afraid to succeed
  • I'm overwhelmed

Maybe your physical body and its level of well-being is getting in your way. For example:

  • I'm too tired

Maybe your thoughts about the other people in your life are getting in your way. For example:

  • They might not like it
  • It won't be as good as _____, so why bother?

Procrastination is a habit like any other. If you can envision how you want to be instead and look honestly at what forms of self-sabotage you usually use, you CAN compensate for your procrastination.

Overcoming Procrastination: What type of procrastinator are you?

Are you a Do-er or a Stew-er?

Do-er
A "do-er" will do anything to avoid the task at hand — the dishes need washing, the dog needs walking, the mail needs sorting, the bills need paying, the files need organizing, etc.

Action Plan for Do-er's
Set a timer for 15-minutes and tell yourself that as soon as it goes off you can do whatever else you want, but until it does, you must sit in that chair and work on the project in front of you.

Train your self
Keep it short
Stay in your chair

Stew-er
A "stew-er" will sit and "stew" about the thing you're not doing. Your mind will spin round and round about different possibilities, you will plan elaborate things for when you do get around to working, you'll be thinking so far into the future that you'll never catch up to yourself.

Action Plan for Stew-er's
Focus and calm your mind with meditation, affirmations and mind-body work such as breathing.

Clear your mind
Ground your thoughts
Pause and breathe

Whether you're a "do-er" or a "stew-er", when we can accomplish our creative goals IN SPITE of having so many reasons to put them off, the rewards are even sweeter.

When I'm feeling overwhelmed, I need to remember that all I have to do is the next thing. A few next things later and I've tackled quite a bit!

It's important to consider the bigger picture of this "thing" that you're trying to do. There's always the possibility that you don't really want to do it or that you're not meant to be doing it. If this is the case, a part of you knows that and is trying to tell you, so listen up (just make sure it's not fear or self-doubt in disguise).

Lastly, remember to celebrate what you HAVE accomplished, no matter how small. The more you focus on what you HAVE done, versus what you HAVEN'T, the more confidence you'll have and the more momentum you'll build towards the next thing you're going to do. •

© Linda Dessau, 2005. All rights reserved.

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3/30/05