I recently went to an event where my friend and fellow life/ADHD coach Amy Falk gave an excellent presentation on overcoming procrastination. With her permission, I pass on a summary of her talk in this week’s newsletter.
Amy uses the following definitions of procrastination:
- An attempt to cope with tasks that are boring, overwhelming or anxiety-producing.
- Doing one thing to avoid doing something else.
Tongue planted firmly in her cheek, she then quotes a definition of “tomorrow” as “A mystical land where 99% of all human productivity, motivation and achievement is stored.”
“Productive procrastination” is where we do everything else on our to-do list than the item we are avoiding. True, we get a lot done, but not the most important one. “Activity” does not equal “productivity.”
People procrastinate for many reasons, which one(s) of these are yours?
- Fear of Failure
- Fear of Success
- Rebellion/Passive Aggressiveness/Resistance to control
- Lack of Clarity
- Lack of Self-Efficacy
- Lack of Self Confidence
- Biology/Neurology (ADD/ADHD)
- Nature’s Ritalin (“I work better under pressure.”)
Before you can overcome procrastination, you need to really understand where it’s coming from. Sometimes just sitting down and reflecting, journaling, talking to a trusted friend or co-worker can help. Sometimes you’ll need to go deeper with a coach, a psychotherapist, or other trained professional. The list above can help, but it’s really just a start, and it’s not all-inclusive.
“Just Do It” is a great slogan for Nike, but can be a terrible phrase for those who are stuck. “Just Start!” is much more realistic.
Here are Amy’s suggestions.
- Break It Down – create a list of each separate step in a larger task.
- Use a Timer – work on something for a small increment of time, use a timer to keep you from hyper-focusing.
- Accountability – Let people know what you plan to do. Be specific!
- Create Real Deadlines – False deadlines rarely work.
- Body Double – Have someone with you as you work. Having another’s presence reminds you of your plan to work on a particular They don’t even have to be working with you, they can be doing their own thing, but can remind you to stay on track.
Many thanks to Amy for letting me use information from her presentation. If you would like to learn more about Amy, check out her website at www.syndala.com.
If you have come to one of my presentations, or have been reading my newsletter, you will note that many of the suggestions above are familiar. Whether or not you have ADHD, many of the solutions for procrastination are similar. Even so, there’s no “one size fits all” for everyone. Working with a trained and certified life coach or ADHD coach can really help. If you would like to schedule a complimentary session with me to see if coaching is right for you, email me at Linda@JoyofGTD.com.