I used to be a procrastinator. More specifically, I used to be an avoider. I would avoid doing things either I was afraid of facing, unsure of my ability to do the ‘thing’, or worried doing the ‘thing’ would cause more grief than just simply worrying about it not being done. I kicked my procrastination/avoidance problem years ago by realizing I buy more trouble putting things off and thinking they will go away than just doing them and dealing with whatever happens next.
In thinking about writing this blog, I came across this entry written by psychologists who study procrastination for a living: http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200507/why-we-procrastinate. The article gives good tips about why procrastination occurs, why it is such a struggle for some people, and what to do to help ourselves.
Ultimately, it seems procrastination is a matter of unconscious avoidance or even rebellion against authority. It might have started in the family of origin, but as an adult “authority” can unconsciously take all manner of forms. Even time can become a representation of authority to be avoided or rebelled against.
I think it is interesting the researchers state procrastination is not a matter of time management. It is an issue of unconscious behavior in reaction to a perceived threat to psychological stability. Moreover, we can put off different responsibilities for different reasons. It is important to carefully examine what you are putting off and take a hard internal look for the reasons behind the avoidance.
I know for me, one of the behaviors I still struggle with is my writing, even writing this blog. I know I consciously want to have the blog and my book ideas written, but I struggle with making time to actually do them. On the surface, it is mysterious to me how I have an urgent need to check Facebook, when I really should spend the time writing. Upon close internal inspection, I found I wanted to write my ideas, but more importantly, want my words to be acclaimed and sought after by the general public. That coupled with an underlying fear of no one really caring.
I had to ask myself, “What if I wrote a blog no one ever reads? What if I write a book no one ever buys? Would I still want to write it?” When I could get to a “Yes, I would still want to write a blog/book, even if I’m the only person who ever reads it”, I found it easier to keep up with my writing.
There is probably something you routinely put off you wish you didn’t. It can be fearful to look for the underlying reason you avoid it, but once you’ve faced the internal reason, you may find your ability to deal with the activity increases and your anxiety level in general will go down.