By procrastinating something we feel actual physical pain! Medical imaging studies have shown, that when procrastinators are given a task to do, and they avoid it. The pain centers of the brain light up.
It is because they feel physical pain just thinking about it! Do you have certain things you avoid doing? What are they? Do you feel your body change when you think about them? And hence avoid doing it all together?
Well you are not alone. Procrastination is a very very common phenomenon. 20 percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators! That’s a lot of people not doing a lot of things!
Procrastination can affect us in many many ways. It can affect your work and your ability to get a promotion. It can affect your credit rating and hence prevent you from getting a loan.
There are three kinds of procrastinators:
- The thrill seeker: These wait last minute to feel the rush of the deadline approaching.
- The Avoiders: Fear is the main guiding emotion, followed quickly by the dreaded “what will people think”.
- The Indecisive: They cant make up their mind, perfectionist fall into this category as well as people unable to choose between options.
The number one go to behaviour for chronic procrastinators is to start doing something else that’s easier. Most often, cleaning up the desk or the house or the kitchen.
One of my favourite procrastination stories has to do with the author Victor Hugo, who wrote the “Hunchback of Notre Dame”. He kept putting off writing till had just 6 months left to write this classic. The deadline form the publishers was approaching.
Hugo then took the drastic step of removing all the clothes from his home except for a thin shawl. So that he could not leave the home till the book was written! He finally managed to finish it on time! Imagine how many other classics were probably written in the nude!!
Now as your Habit Coach, there is no way I would tell you to do something as drastic or dramatic.
The most important thing for us to recognise about procrastination is that it is a learned behaviour. It is not genetic, there is no procrastination gene within us! We see others and learn from them.
It soon becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. As we identify ourselves as procrastinators and give ourselves a label. A label is a hard thing to change.
The first thing to understand is that Procrastination is a cycle. We start avoiding and the task becomes scarier. So we avoid it some more and then it just keeps growing. Bigger and bigger!
The only way to stop is to get off this cycle or break the cycle.
I do this with what I call a war cry or battle cry! It’s the same thing that motivates a hoard of soldiers to run head on into a bunch of swords and spears at the other end of the field.
A war cry focuses you in the moment. There is nothing more important than the task at hand. Complete focus and determination meet at this point! You hold yourself to a higher standard. And get the job done!
There are many war cries to choose from. Some people prefer to give themselves a countdown..5..4..3..2..1!
Others like to use the classics like CHAAAARRRGEEEE! Or AAAKHRAAAMAAAAAN!
The movie star and all round motivator uses the word FOCUS! He keeps using it when he needs to put his head down and work.
I like to use the word Optimus! It means the best is Latin. Its my best self that I am calling forward. I use this when I am scared and need to overcome as well.
So your simple habit for breaking the procrastination cycle is to use a war cry! Decide on one before hand. Make it your mantra!
And then as soon as you see yourself about to procrastinate you say it or shout it to yourself! Break the cycle and just get the job done!
Remember you have to break this cycle right in the beginning. And a war cry is just one tiny easy way of breaking it.