I was lucky enough to grow up with a wiser older person in my life, my grandmother who is still alive and kicking at the age of 94 years old, and still dishes out wise words of wisdom from time to time.
Unfortunately, we are separated by continents and time differences but some of her words have stuck with me forever.
I was a hard worker at school and university where I studied Law, worked two jobs part-time at different restaurants and juggled social, family, work and study pressures quite unsuccessfully at times. The result was stress, cramming for deadlines or not making them at all, missed opportunities, guilt and resentment.
My need for perfection lead to procrastination of certain tasks and decisions. This lead to chronic stress and culminated in delay and denial. I was too focused on “being perfect “and doing every task perfectly and nothing else mattered. When I put off tasks and decisions or was in denial my grandmother would warn me time and time again: “Procrastination is the thief of time, Melissa!”, her favorite quote from Charles Dickens’ classic work, David Copperfield.
As life went on and the pressures increased, I finally learned that the reason I procrastinated was linked to my insatiable need for perfection, as well as a sub-conscious fear of failure. These unrealistic expectations were backfiring on me at a rapid rate and I had to find an urgent solution to avoid the stressful cycle that kept repeating itself leading to chronic stress, where I was unable to function at times.
My grandmother’s words still play in my mind today. The difference is that I now understand my personality and have learned how to overcome procrastination, and embrace failure as a learning experience.
The behaviour pattern of procrastination can be triggered in many different ways. For me it was perfection and fear of failure but other ways include: being overwhelmed, unmotivated, tired, lazy, resistance to authority (often arises in adolescence), fear of making the right decision, complexity of a task, lack of focus, distractions, lack of knowledge, lack of discipline and indecisiveness.
The first step to cure procrastination is to acknowledge and own up to it.
Ask yourself these questions if you are stuck in a cycle of procrastination:
- Am I constantly putting off tasks?
- Do I delay in making decisions for an unreasonable period of time by actively, consciously and deliberately postponing or avoiding making a decision?
- Why am I actually procrastinating the task or decision?
Procrastination is a bad habit that slowly eats away at us and prevents us from moving forward and achieving greater results in life. Don’t let procrastination run your life and wake up one day wishing you hadn’t been a procrastinator. Start working on learning how to overcome procrastination.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Break up your work into little steps and focus on one part at a time. This will be less overwhelming. If it is still overwhelming you, break it down even further.
- Change your environment. Sometimes different environments have different impacts on productivity.
- Make a detailed timeline with specific deadlines. Break it down into monthly, weekly and daily tasks.
- Spend time with people who inspire you to take action and learn from them.
- Tell others about your goals. This will make you feel accountable every time they ask you how you are progressing.
- Find someone who has already achieved the outcome you want to accomplish. Seeing that your goals are actually achievable could give you the motivation you need.
- Clarify your goals. If you have been procrastinating for a while you need to evaluate if there is still alignment with what you are seeking to achieve. Dig deep and really nut out what outcome you want.
- Simplify! Stop over complicating things and waiting for the perfect time or the perfect conditions.
- Just do it! (Thank you Nike).Take action and make a start.
- Believe in yourself .You can do it!
This month’s mantra is by Benjamin Franklin:
“You may delay, but time will not”
Wishing you all a great start to spring, a wonderful opportunity to make a fresh start and reevaluate your goals. Start small and think about where you’d like to be by summer. Will you still be procrastinating, waiting, putting off and making excuses? Don’t put off what you can do today.
The perfect time is right now.
With love and inspiration