Kaspa writes: I’m not writing this from the position of someone who is perfect at getting things done. Rather from the position of the person who has indulged in (and still does) a great deal of procrastination over the years and has got to know the tricks that my mind uses to keep me from getting things done, and a couple of tricks to help me get them done.
I’ve learnt that I have two main reasons for avoiding doing things:
The first reason is boredom - I have some idea of what I like to do, and filling in the tax form isn’t it. It’s also true that I have seen myself become attracted to high-pressure situations, addicted to the ‘buzz’ of working right up to a deadline. When I’m in that mode I get used to working with a high, edgy kind of energy and I can’t engage with anything that needs me to come down from that.
The second reason for avoiding something is a fear that it will change or challenge me in some way. For me this often manifests in social situations. I can remember at parties I would avoid going into rooms where the brightest conversations were happening for a fear of not being able to interact well… and avoid going into rooms where the deepest conversations were happening in case anyone asked me to reveal something about myself.
The tricks I’ve learnt:
Just do it
This really works for me, especially when faced when a task that I think is boring. Just take the first step, and then just take the second step. I have faith that if I really give my attention to what I am doing, one step at a time, the job will get done. Often my attention wanders. Facebook is a tempting distraction. But I remember what I’m supposed to be doing and get back to it.
Often once I get over the initial hump of irritation or boredom I can really get into the flow of what I’m doing.
If I’m still struggling to stay focused I…
Remember why the job needs to be done
It really is important to fill out the tax forms if I don’t want to get charged too much, or pay a fine! Or I think about the people who it will effect if I get this job done, or if I don’t. There are usually real people that will be affected if I don’t do what I’m supposed to.
Feel the fear and do it anyway
I’d heard of Susan Jeffers a long time ago, but I’ve not read her famous book. I found the same advice in the work of Japanese therapist Dr Morita. He did a lot of work with agoraphobic people, and people suffering from anxiety disorders – real extreme cases of people being paralysed by fear – and some of his advice has really helped me.
Feelings come and go. I can’t control what feelings I have, they are the product of all sorts of things, from my family history to the way my brain is wired. But I can watch my feelings and notice that as fear comes up, fear will pass. I remember the first time I cooked for a large group of people. I was terrified. But I knew that people were relying on me to feed them. The meal was a great success, and I learnt that it was possible to achieve something whilst being afraid.