Back to work, university, school etc and the holidays I wrote about a couple of weeks ago are now a distant memory. Everyone seems to be back in working mode, and trying to soak up as much of the summer as they can before it becomes dark at 5pm, and we all embark on winter hibernation. This time of year is always interesting for me, and I often see my clients becoming quite concerned and despondent about what they are going to achieve for the year ahead, and how they can make the most of their time. Unfortunatley, for many people, these thoughts become completely overwhelming, and find themselves paralysed by what they feel like they need to do.
Feeling overwhelmed is a powerful space, and often prevents people doing anything at all. Procrastination is the good friend of being overwhelmed, and often without awareness people can get stuck in a cycle of procrastination and difficulty regaining momentum. I don't have a cure for procrastination. I wish I did. Instead, my approach tends to be to help people manage smaller tasks, and help them kick start their momentum rather than fixing the procrastinating. The smaller and more manageable the tasks feel is directly related to how often they are completed. This is particularly relevant when I am seeing clients around the management of school or university tasks, when looking at the idea of completing a full assignment is completely overwhelming, but doing the introduction, or writing 200 words is quite achievable.
My tips for when you find yourself procrastinating about something....
1. Feel like you have a sense of the problem. For instance, using our above example, what does the question ask? What resources do you need?
2. Using the things you identify above, how can you break these into smaller steps? If you need to get some books, do you need to go to the library, log onto google, or can you use a textbook. If you are working on an essay, what are the parts of the essay?
3. Write yourself a plan with logical small steps. For instance, step 1 is to write the question out. Step 2 is to go to the local library and get the book. Step 3 is to read the appropriate chapter etc.
4. Set time frames for these and make them manageable and yourself accountable for them. If your essay is due in 3 weeks, start it now!
5. GET STARTED!!!!!
I can imagine that when you looked at these steps you probably thought "they are so small". That's the plan, If something is too big, your procrastination will kick in, and it will feel too overwhelming.
I would love to hear your tips of how you use these strategies, or ones of your own!