Procrastination is something so many of us have to deal with and often we feel defeated by it. I am sharing advice from Neal Fiore, The Now Habit. So now that you are keeping a journal of your procrastination events, you are becoming more aware of how much it influences your day, your thinking, and your feelings. Procrastination is insidious and prevents us from feeling good.
A second tool that is really helpful in coming to understand where time goes in a day is to keep a log or inventory for three days of every waking activity. This helps you to see where your time is actually going, what you are doing and how much of your time is really productive. Wow! What an eye opener that was for me. I could see that I was really busy but when I actually wrote down what I was doing I realized in a very concrete way that I was busy but really producing nothing, nada, niente, zip! Fiore says this gives you a more realistic sense of just how long it takes to do something.
I soon realized that I had a serious “focus problem.” I was so scattered that I would give my attention to whatever happened in my line of vision or space. That could mean answering every phone call, checking every email message or text that came in, talking to someone about a project and then spending 45 minutes ruminating or dreaming about “stuff.” No wonder I just didn’t seem to have time ever to get to the projects that I had always wanted to do.
I had three problems: 1. Fear of failure, 2. Problem with focus, and 3. Time management. By keeping a procrastination journal and and activity inventory I began to take back control of my life; at least the parts of my life that I could control. I enjoyed tracking my time so much that two weeks into my procrastination recovery program I found logging my day a very helpful way to keep me on track and to be aware of the recurring pitfalls that plague me.
Here is an example of my procrastination journal:
Date & Time
Thoughts & Feelings
Resulting Thoughts and Feelings
2/9/11 6:00 PM
I can’t really start writing I have to spend more time learning about blogging, studying the craft of writing, learning Scrivener
I will look foolish if I try to post or publish something without having first learned everything
I will spend 50% of my time learning and 50% writing
I feel more encouraged to actually begin writing and posting
Since I began this process I have logged 13 “procrastination events” and I am absolutely amazed at how much I am learning about my own negative self talk and how much it prevents me from actually doing what I love to do and have always wanted to do. In fact, this first post is the first post of the rest of my life. I will close this first post now with this quote from The Now Habit: “Procrastination does not start the pattern. . . Procrastination follows perfectionistic or overwhelming demands and a fear that even minor mistakes will lead to devastating criticism and failure.”
Ok! Naming the problem and being aware of it are the first steps. Now take action. It is so easy. Just start a log of your procrastination urges and your activities. You will be amazed at what you learn. Then we will get into the real heart of the process.