week is National Procrastination Week, a time for me to celebrate. I
learned some of my best self-coaching strategies while struggling with
my tendency to procrastinate.
Did you know that procrastination isn’t caused by laziness?
Just like anything else, procrastination has a body-emotion-thought connection. For example, research shows several causes for procrastination:
- BODY: Procrastination can be caused by low activity or damage in the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that filters out stimuli, especially distracting stimulation that makes it difficult to stay focused and organized around completing a task.
- EMOTION: Procrastination can be caused by our emotional state, such as depression, fear, anxiety or addiction.
- THOUGHT: Procrastination can be caused by the way we think about a task. If we think the task is too small or insignificant, we’ll tend to procrastinate. On the other hand, if we think it’s too big and overwhelming, we’ll have a tendency to procrastinate.
While learning to coach myself around my procrastination, I had to first identify the body-emotion-thought patterns that supported my procrastination. The results were surprising! Here’s how it broke down for me:
- BODY PATTERN: I tend to procrastinate when my environment is too stimulating. Lots of noise, bright lights, temperature extremes, odors, etc. made it difficult for me to stay focused.
- EMOTION PATTERN: When I can’t stay focused, I tend to get overwhelmed, a form of fear pattern. When that happened, I didn’t feel safe enough to complete the task.
- THOUGHT PATTERN: When I don’t feel safe I begin to think like a victim. I believe I’m not competent enough to take care of myself. At this point, my brain shuts down and I can’t figure out what needs to be done in order to complete the task. I want to be rescued.
Each pattern I identified was guidance about what was causing my procrastination. The solutions became more obvious.
Once I identified the patterns, I thought each pattern led to the next. So, I began by changing my environment. This strategy helped me get started on projects, but it wasn’t enough to complete them.
Patterns become entrained in our brains. This means they pull or draw themselves along, like the current in a river. They seem to have an energy of their own. For example, try to sing doh-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti and stop. Notice how your body feels without that final doh. Notice how agitated your body, emotions and thoughts are.
Ok. Go ahead and sing the final doh. Enjoy the release.
The same is true for procrastination. It has an energy of its own. So when you develop a strategy, remember to plan a body strategy, an emotion strategy AND a thought strategy.