Dealing With The Pain of Procrastination

04 June 2009, by A. Cedilla

You know how dread manifests physically. It’s the burning sensation behind the eyes, or a leaden weight pushing down on your shoulders, and the tired, resentful feeling lying solidly in your stomach in anticipation of dealing with a mountain of work that piled up — all because you kept putting things off until the last minute.

You keep asking yourself, then,” Why do I keep doing this?” without pausing to consider the question seriously. If you did, you’d be surprised at the kinds of issues procrastination can be a cover for. Hopefully, you won’t stay stuck in your head for too long and instead ask yourself a more relevant question.

“How do I stop?”

You do the next thing.

It is a well-recognized theory in the scientific community that people will do more to avoid pain that they do to attain pleasure.

It’s human to avoid the painful stuff — which is precisely why you have to do it. Doing the hard work makes you stronger and can bring out the best that’s in you.

Doing the hard stuff makes it easier for you in the long run as you grow accustomed to exercising your ability to see the truth, make a decision to act on it, and commit to carrying out the steps necessary to realizing your choices. Doing so requires a clear goal, discipline and committed action.

So, how do you deal with putting things off?

Accept the truth.
Whether you call it goal or finish line, focusing on what you are working towards helps you navigate your way through the realities of the various environments you move in — at work, at home, on-line, wherever. Your goal is part of your internal compass. Ignoring things that are actually happening because they don’t fit in with your ideas is dangerous. Not to mention willfully dumb. It’s like passing over parts of the map you don’t like.

So, look at the situation squarely. What do you have to take in?

  • Urgency: In terms of time, is action needed immediately, or does it have a coming soon notice? Maybe the issue just wants to say hello, then goes away by itself. Look at how they can impact your planned work flow and adjust accordingly.
  • Priority: If you push taking action back, how much trouble will it set you back in the short run? In the long run? Conversely, if you do it now, how much positive effect will it have on propelling you to your goal? (Take note, if you’re not actively working towards your goal, it is not a goal. It’s a wish.)
  • Impact: How much further towards your goal will taking this action help you? 1 hour of TV (for decompression and downtime, catching up on what’s what) versus 1 hour of exercise (sweating out the stress and getting fit in time for your 10th high school reunion). Or, hey, 1 hour on the treadmill in front of the TV, in the months leading to your high school reunion. Now there’s a thought…

Punch all the factors: time constraints/priorities + likely impact = Y/N.

Make your choice, then act on it.

Commit. Do the next thing.

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