Procrastinating Again – Just Say Poppycock

June 8, 2010

Isn’t it funny how you can always find the time to do the things in life you really want to do, but procrastinate and put-off those jobs you don’t enjoy?

‘Poppycock’ is my mot du jour. Apparently it stems from the Dutch, meaning dung and translates into nonsense, bull, baloney. It’s proving particularly useful as I hear myself procrastinating yet again and give myself excuses for not completing my tax forms this week.

My plan was to set aside the whole day today to complete this hideous administrative task. Great plan! Unfortunately the day is fast concluding and I’ve already found lots of fun things to do to distract me. And yes, writing this has been one of them! Every time I think of the pile of paperwork I have to get through and the form filling required I feel drained of energy and irritable. But I’m a coach and love positive thinking, so surely I can turn this around?

So, I decided to coach the coach and it went something like this…

Q. What is it that’s causing you to procrastinate so much?

A: I don’t know really. I just hate the detail of the paperwork. Every time I think about it I feel drained. It’s not that it’s particularly difficult, it just takes time, and has to be checked and rechecked. I’m the only person I know who can add up the same column of figures three times and get three different results  – and that’s with a calculator!

Q. How have you felt in the past when you’ve completed a task you’ve been putting off?

A: Great! Relieved. It’s funny but although I hate this particular task and always put it way down my priority list, it never really takes as long as I anticipate and really isn’t that difficult. I’m quite good at keeping the paperwork together so it’s just a matter of getting round to it.

Q. It sounds to me as if the thought of doing the task is filling a lot of your time, draining your energy and stopping you having as much fun as you usually do, is that true?

A: Yes, definitely. I’m really not settling at anything at the moment. I feel guilty because I’m not getting on with it so can’t really enjoy the things I want to be doing.

Q. If you were to look at your diary now, how much time would you realistically need to put aside to complete this task?

A: About a day, a day being until school pick up at 3.30 anyway.

Q. Good. So when have you next got a free day?

A: Well, I have a few commitments next Wednesday but I could reschedule them to clear the day.

Q. That’s great. How would you feel if you cleared next Wednesday for paperwork and made a commitment to complete it all then?

A: It feels as if I’m more in control.

Q. How will you feel by Wednesday night?

A: So much better. Ready to celebrate. In fact I might arrange to go out with a friend to reward myself. Yes, great plan. Thank you!

As you can see, by focussing on the way we feel once the dreaded job is completed we can  feel more positive. In our head the job is behind us and we’ve got the feel-good factor again. By tapping into that positive feeling we’re in a far better state of mind to think creatively and get things done. Gone is the procrastination we felt when the task was still in front of us.

In reality, nothing on the outside has changed, but in our head, there’s a very different energy – one that will now spur us into action and produce results.

5-minute challenge

What are you procrastinating about? What are the tasks you’re putting off?

Take 5 minutes to write them down, and go through ( or better still go through with your coach or a friend ) the questions above, tweaking them if necessary to release the positive feelings that lie the other side of the task. Take time to really get in touch with the satisfaction you will feel once the job is completed. Then, and only then, turn your mind to the actions you need to take to get the other side of the task you’ve been putting off. Do you need to

a) delegate it,

b) find further information or take action before you can complete it, or

c) just get on and do it?

Choose your next step and make a commitment today to do that. The faster you are the other side of this hurdle the faster you’ll have more energy, positivity, and fun. It really is that simple when you break it down. Take that first step and gain some forward momentum today.

And next time you find yourself procrastinating, just remember, the word is ‘poppycock’!

Have a wonderful week – see you the other side of your current hurdle!

Warmest wishes


Photography by Arvind Balaraman: