Why do we procrastinate? Confession: even as I write this post, I am putting off another task, co-editing an anthology. When we procrastinate, we avoid a task that nags. We shrug off the habit as benign. But did you know that procrastination ages our bodies by eight years and nudges us to our inevitable deaths? According to Dr. Mehmet Oz in You: The Owner’s Manual, procrastination is equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
So here are 5 simple approaches to tackle procrastination:
1. Reframe the unappealing task:
If the task is unattractive but critical for our peace, we must create new programming by shifting our thoughts. If I loathe to water the yard because brushing up against shubbery, spider webs, and mosquitoes makes me cringe, I could clear the block or simply shift into gratitude for all the greenery in our yard. (Fortunately, my husband cares for our landscaping, and it is mutually satisfactory division of duties, I hope?).
2. Acknowledge making conscious priorities.
If our choices are aligned with our values, then an unfinished task need not provoke our guilt. My fridge needs to be cleaned out. But caring for my stuff comes after caring for my spiritual, physical and emotional health, family life, and purpose. I refuse to accept a procrastinator’s guilt, since I recognize that even though the task requires completion, I value other choices over a clean fridge. (And yes, I honor you, Fridge, and hold the intention that I find a pocket of time in the next few days to complete the task. But see? I don’t feel the stress that comes with procrastination.)
3. Tapping into a knowledge that governs behavior or connecting to our values
We avoids tasks because we are disconnected from the knowledge of the result. We may choose to eat unhealthy foods because we don’t know what it feels like to thrive. Instead of feeling guilty about poor eating habits, try a 7-day detox on raw fruits and vegetables. Your body will reclaim its youthful vigor, and chemical cravings no longer rule the body. Next time you see a Dorito chip, you may think twice before eating chemical-laden food. Or to circle back to my opening example, I need to create time to review articles so that I am living in integrity. I have carved out time tomorrow to honor my commitment.
4. Lacking Support
We berate ourselves for failing to do a certain task, but sometimes, we simply lack adequate support. As humans, we crave friendship and community. Cease the guilt! If you are not succeeding at completing a commitment, ask for help, find a coach or support group, or talk to a friend.
5. Fear of Stepping into Our Truth
Marianne Williamson wrote, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” If fear is the underbelly of procrastination, pay attention because the stakes are too high. When fear pulses through my veins, I know to press on because on the other side lies my Truth. Otherwise, why would the Darkness be so invested in stopping me? By embracing fear and charging forward, we increase our personal power, the ability to transform the world, just by letting our light shine. All the dark forces in the world want us to maintain the status quo, so know that if you taste fear, you are stepping in the right direction.
And above all, be kind to yourself, remembering: I honor who I am and who I am becoming. I am amazing. I can do difficult things!