By: Nina Smiley, Ph.D., Director of Mindfulness Programming, Mohonk Mountain House
With only 24 hours in a day, it can be difficult to get everything done. “I’m on-the-run, I’ll do it tomorrow…” “I need more time to think it over…” “I’ll wait and see how the situation shapes up…” Although there can be skillful reasons to put things off, there’s also procrastination – when a delay in taking action leads to discomfort.
If procrastination is your problem, you may find that just thinking about whatever you’re putting off can bring up a visceral reaction. As sense-memories flood the field, your mind/body connection activates a response and you can feel your stress level rising. Be honest with yourself, if putting off today what’s due tomorrow is your “go to” strategy, and if it’s hurting your quality of life, it’s time for a change!
We sometimes think avoiding a task or problem will bring relief, when in reality, the opposite is true. Whatever is hanging over you will remain lodged in your awareness and, even though you try to stuff it down, can taint your enjoyment of the present moment.
Why create stress by prolonging procrastination when some simple mindfulness tips can help you break out of this box?
Tip #1 – Admit That You’re Stuck.
You can’t solve a problem unless you’re aware it exists. Let discomfort tell you when it’s time to acknowledge to yourself that procrastination is feeling prickly, then face it directly. Approaching this mindfully – simply being present in the moment, without judging yourself – allows you to perceive this insight as a “breakthrough,” not a “breakdown.” Understanding this, you have an opportunity to change!
Tip #2 – What Are You Putting Off?
Now that you’ve touched the sore spot, it’s time to get to know it. What action(s) are you avoiding? Don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed. Write them down. Now break the behaviors into baby steps – the smaller, the better. Be sure to capture the flow of events that will take you from start to finish. These are the action steps that will get you going!
Tip #3 – I Can Do That!
Now look at the first step on your list. If you’ve made each step manageable, you’ll be surprised to see how small it is. “I can do that!” you say to yourself. And to accomplish your goal, that’s all you need to do – string together one small step at a time after another!
Tip #4 – Mission Mindfully Accomplished!
When we’re procrastinating, whatever we’re avoiding can begin to loom larger each day. Breaking the action(s) into a sequence of mini-steps brings the challenge back to a manageable size.
Using these tips, you can take the energy that has gone into procrastination and put it into progress – one mindful moment at a time!