Sometimes, we have to do things that we don’t want to do. We have to give that presentation, wash that pile of dishes or take the dog out in the rainstorm. When you have a task that you can’t get out of quit the procrastination and get into it instead.
Put the radio on and sing along while you tackle that mountain of ironing. Get your raincoat out and embrace the storm with your faithful hound. Take a few deep breaths and plan that presentation. Make the job fun, tackle it with as much enthusiasm as you can and see if the change in attitude makes the task easier, more fun and more satisfying and helps you overcome procrastination.
When it’s hard to get ‘into’ things we can also try a reward system. See in your mind’s eye the task completed. Imagine the applause at the end of the presentation, or the crisp, fresh-smelling laundry put neatly away in the cupboards. Imagine the toned muscles you will have after the exercise routine or the appreciation from your relatives at the end of the meal you have prepared.
And by all means, reward yourself with a treat when you have completed a certain part of the task. A reward such as reading a chapter of a book, having a snack, chatting to a friend, enjoying a cup of tea or just sitting in the sunshine can help keep you motivated through the task and kick procrastination to the curb.
Overcoming fear and procrastination
For some things, resistance to completing the task is so strong we can’t even begin. This type of procrastination is fear-based and can be paralysing. The best way to overcome tasks that make us want to run from the internal terror they induce is to tackle them in five-minute chunks. Set a timer for five minutes, work on the task for five minutes then take a break or have a small reward. You can achieve anything in these tiny increments and you will probably soon find that you do ‘get into’ the task after a while, once the fear has been overcome.
Sometimes, no matter how hard we want to get into something we can’t. We can’t seem to get over the panic or and fear induced by the task. But there are tools to help us in these situations. Decide today, to do your best to get over the situation. Listen to that overcoming public speaking audio, learn to meditate to ease the exam nerves, get a coach or mentor to help you out of your rut. If you can’t get into the work, get into learning to get over it – if you see what I mean!
When we learn to get into tasks, they are usually completed more easily and with less fear, resistance and procrastination. Use every trick in the book to get past the starting block. Bribe yourself if necessary. Buy a special notebook and pen to make those notes in. Treat yourself to an audiobook to listen to while ironing. Buy fresh flowers or scented candles as a reward for cleaning and tidying your home. Treat yourself to a meal out the day after the visitors have gone. Get your favourite lunch after the presentation is completed.
Attitude and energy
We often think that these negative tasks deplete us of energy, but I would argue that it is the negative energy we take into the tasks that really depletes us. The much put-off task also hangs over us, draining our energy each time we think about it, which we have to do more and more the longer we put it off. Getting into it and getting it done is the quickest way to achieve some relief. When we change our attitude and get started with at least a little enthusiasm, we soon find satisfaction in completing a task to the best of our ability, and the weight that is lifted from our shoulders on completing a task is such a huge relief.
If your days are too full of this kind of task it might be time to redress the balance. Try to get rid of a few things on your to-do list, or delegate them to someone else. Don’t be a perfectionist about this — give the task to anyone who can help and let go of the result. If the kids don’t clean the house quite to your usual standards don’t worry, let it go.
I know that we are all hard-pressed and time-poor, but adding just a small element of soul-work, work that leaves you feeling satisfied somewhere deep inside, can improve how you feel about your whole life and start a positive spiral towards creating a life that is brimming with activities that please you in your mind, body and soul.
When your energy is so depleted that by the evening you can do nothing but crash in front of the TV you know you need to change. The funny thing about much of the work that we do is that it can actually energise us, filling us with enthusiasm, creativity, joy and satisfaction. Try to make time each day for whatever kind of work feeds your soul and incorporate soul-work activities into your other activities, too. Washing fresh vegetables can be soul work, walking the dog or arranging flowers, or cleaning a window to let the sunshine in, can be soul work. As I have said before, it is more about the attitude than the task itself.