Saturday, September 8, 2012

From Victim to Victor, How to Get Off the Procrastination Highway

Today has been a brutal day. I've been fighting with myself just to accomplish the smallest tasks. This story was supposed to be written this morning, and it is now 3PM, and I have barely made a dent in my "to do list." Days like this used to completely derail me, and lead to more days that turned into weeks of just slogging through my life.
The road to depression is paved with the bricks of procrastination... Or is it the other way around? It doesn't really matter which came first, the depression or the procrastination. The important point is that both are unwelcome guests in your life... and by getting rid of one, you will have gone a long way towards giving the other one the boot, as well.
The more I procrastinated, the more depressed I began to feel. Sometimes the depression led to anger... generally misdirected... and that led to apologies, embarrassment, and shame. I felt totally out of control, and unable to reel myself back in. By the time I was able to pick myself up and get back on track, I was so far behind, I felt there was no way to catch up. Then, I would get so overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work I needed to do, that I would collapse under the weight of it all,and sometimes the cycle would just begin again. Don't go there... It's a very dark place.
We all succumb to the seductive wiles of procrastination every once in a while, so the key is to have tools at the ready to get us back to productivity as quickly as possible.
As a matter of fact, I am using one of my favorite tools right now! Yep, I've been stuck all morning in the quicksand of "I'mnotinthemooditis." This is the technical term for that state where you just can't seem to get started, even though you have soooo much to do. Sometimes it is known by other names, such as, "I think it's time to really clean out my sock drawer." Or perhaps for you it is, "Maybe if I rearrange the furniture in my office (for the third time this month), I will feel more like working today." The old stand-by, "I'll get to it after I make some popcorn, pull out that family size bowl of candy, and watch just a little bit of Oprah," has been working for generations.
In any case, whenever your particular strain of this debilitating disease has you in it's grip, the most important thing is to just DO something. Productive. NOW!!!! While that may not be as easy as NIKE makes it sound, it is great advice. The longer you avoid the tasks, the closer you come to the road to nowhere... not to be mistaken for the Yellow Brick Road.
The tool I'm using today is this:
Sit with good posture, in a comfortable chair. With your feet flat on the floor, and your hands in your lap, close your eyes. Let your mind drift back to a time when you were functioning at your highest level. Remember how good it felt to be meeting your challenges head on, and accomplishing the tasks set in front of you? Remember the pride you felt when you finished a really big project, and knew you did a great job? Great...
Now, visualize the biggest task on your list today, and how satisfied you will feel when it is completed. See yourself fully engaged, enjoying the process, anticipating the smile that will fill your heart when you can check this behemoth off your list. See your pen making the check mark beside the task.
Sit with this feeling for a moment. Before you open your eyes, allow yourself to really feel the joy and the sense of accomplishment that you know will accompany your successful completion of this task. Forgive yourself for any self inflicted wounds your procrastination has caused you. Commit to take the first step as soon as you open your eyes. Breathe in your commitment to loving yourself enough to break through the challenges you face and get ready to play big. Open your eyes to the joy of being the biggest you you can possibly be. Inspire yourself to give yourself the gift of accomplishment!
As my old friend, Keith Morton used to say, "There is more than one road that leads to the Promised Land." This is just one of the tools I use to get myself back up and running.

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