Counteracting The Dread of Procrastination

So you’ve got a task to complete. It could be anything from a simple daily chore to a long-standing commitment. Maybe it’s a necessary step towards something you long to achieve, or perhaps it’s more of a duty that you know you need to perform. But no matter how desirable the end result, or how desperate you are to have it out of the way, you dread getting started. Nothing will make you confront that dread, and thus, the will to procrastinate prevails.

We all know the feeling. But how well do we understand it?

It’s a classic procrastination scenario. You expend valuable time and energy avoiding the job until you can’t possibly avoid it any longer and yet within moments of starting, it suddenly dawns on you: it really isn’t so bad after all! So why did you dread it in the first place?

Break yourself out of the cycle and take some time to reflect on that dread. Sit with it for a while and get to know it. Get curious about it. This might sound bizarre or even unpleasant, but it’s an extremely effective way of dealing with ‘negative’ emotion and much like the scenario above, it’s not so bad once you get started. You may find that the dread has been misinterpreted. Was it really about doing the actual task? Or was it about the anxiety of knowing that you should be doing it but are still not doing it? Perhaps what you are anxious about is procrastination itself.

Of course this isn’t always the case, but it often is. It certainly explains why we immediately feel better after getting started (and then berate ourselves for not having done so earlier!).

So the next time you find yourself procrastinating, take some time and courage to sit with the anxiety instead of trying to squash it. What is it really about? Is it the dread of doing, or just the anxiety of not doing?

And what are you going to do about that?

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