I made you a procrastination discernment flow chart, because we all procrastinate for different reasons. We need to know why we are procrastinating to know what to do differently.
Start at the beginning.
What to do if you selected YES! or Yes, but…
Yes, you want to do _____. Maybe you want to write a poem, go to the gym, or call a friend whom you miss but haven’t talked to in forever, yet you aren’t taking action. Here’s what to do:
Do my Meeting Your Fear process right now. You probably won’t want to. Do it anyway.
- Three long exhales.
- Look around your environment: Are you safe? Let your reptile brain know you are physically safe.
- Ask yourself, “Who is having these thoughts about why I can’t _____?” Spend a few breaths simply witnessing your thoughts as if you were watching a movie.
- Declare, “I am ______ because I want to!” Writing a poem, going to the gym, calling your friend. You may not feel much or any desire. Doesn’t matter.
- Countdown 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. (From Mel Robbins.)
- Take any action.
Notice how you feel.
Rinse and repeat as needed.
If you selected Yes, but… you might also want to read the suggestions at the end of this post.
If you selected No!
It’s time to put whatever it is you are holding over your own head lovingly consciously aside.
One of the simplest ways to increase your energy and focus is to close the loop on things that you aren’t going to do now, or perhaps ever.
That might mean calling someone to say no thank you, saying no to future business from a client who drains you, or reckoning with the cost of not exercising without blame or self-harm.
Whatever it takes you in courage to let go, say no, or otherwise close the loop on an idea, relationship, job, client, etc., will be returned a hundredfold in clarity, lightness, and energy.
If you selected no, but I have to
Ground yourself in your power. Feel yourself here in the present moment. All of you. Drop the future and the past like letting go of heavy ropes.
Remember that choosing how you spend your life’s energy is always ultimately up to you and owning that truth liberates your power.
Ask yourself, “Who says I have to?” Sometimes this is enough to realize no one has, but you. Take back your projections, your idea of duty, of being a good person or employee, by next asking yourself:
“What will satisfy me?” What will be enough for you? How will you know you fulfilled that which you declare will be enough, dependent only on you and your values?
But let’s say there is someone saying you have to do _____. Maybe that someone is a boss or the bank. Then it’s time to ascertain what will satisfy them. Has your boss told you what the standards are for the report you are doing? Has your thesis advisor made it clear what you need to do for your research? Has your partner told you what she wants from you around planning the holidays? Have you asked?
Procrastination thrives when you don’t know what is enough. Take back your power and decide, negotiate, or clarify.
If you selected I am too exhausted to know
Check out the ideas under No! and No, but I have to. See if those help.
Revisit your sleep hygiene. TV, devices of any kind, phone beeping in the bedroom, not good. Pets in your bed? Also not great. Stop accepting poor sleep. Make small changes now. If you have insomnia, see an integrated physician and discuss hormone replacement and natural sleep aid options. Also check out Yoga Nidra for sleep. I like Karen Brody and Molly Birkholm.
Revisit your blood sugar levels. Exhaustion and sometimes anxiety can be altered quickly with a change in diet, especially a change in breakfast. This is my favorite new breakfast smoothie from Dr. Kelly Brogan.
Revisit my post about over-providing.
A couple of more thoughts on procrastination
You might find this process too simplistic and your mind might throw up a bunch of reasons why the previous suggestions won’t work. That’s cool. Here are a few more ideas.
I don’t know where to start
Do my “Meeting Your Fear” process, then for your action do a “brain dump” of everything you could do on this idea or project. Don’t worry about the order.
Next, select one thing to break down into an actual small step that you know how to do right now.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1 do it!
I’m afraid of screwing up
Define what screwing up looks like for this moment and project. Describe it in writing.
Ask yourself, “What would satisfy me to do, knowing nobody, including myself, can control outcomes? What can I do today to move this forward according to what will satisfy me?”
How do I know it’s the right time or project?
Procrastination is not a character flaw or a moral failing. It is fear that needs attention. You can use it to wake up to what you actually want and to reawaken your power and desire.
You might piss people off. You will probably need to welcome feelings of worry and being less than perfect. You’ll most likely not feel like doing any of this because your brain finds procrastination safer than action.
But the reward of living your one and only life is worth it ALL. Don’t let discomfort be anything but a signal to get curious.