A Proven Technique for Overcoming Procrastination
Procrastination. We all do it.
In fact, if you procrastinate, congratulations! That means your mind is working perfectly, like a well-oiled machine.
Until recently, I considered myself a natural born procrastinator. I saw my ability to procrastinate as a strength. I actually said to others “I work better under pressure and get better results by waiting till the last minute.” I trained my mind to believe that. Now I know this is not true. It was my ego validating my actions. My ego has a way of manipulating the truth.
A Love/Hate Relationship
My relationship with procrastination was definitely a love/hate one. Failing to complete a task or putting it off would actually give me anxiety and stress, because the task always stayed in the back of my head. I would override the emotion with a more pleasurable activity. I knew it needed to get done, but I would tuck it away for later.
Our mind is constantly seeking pleasure, comfort and safety. “I don’t feel like doing this report, instead let me see if my friend is available for lunch. I really want to try that new sushi restaurant. I love sushi. I will do the report later.”
Pleasure wins. The problem is that the report still isn’t done and you will continue to feel anxiety about it. The pleasure is only temporary.
The Procrastination Dialogue
Let me share a recent procrastination example. This is how the dialogue went in my head…
“Wow, my office is a mess. I need to clean my office today. I love having a clean space to get work done. A clean office opens my mind to inspiration and creativity that leads to positive results. A clean space will help me stay focused on the task at hand. But, it is going to take a lot of effort. My office is so messy and unorganized. I don’t even know where to start. I only have 4 hours of free time before I have to pick up Averie from school. Can I get it done in 4 hours? Probably not. What’s the point of starting? I will pick a day when I have more time. Do I really need to start it today? I also really need a workout. There is a class that starts in 20 minutes. I will do that instead. That will make feel more productive.” As so, I procrastinate another day on doing something that I really need to do.
In order to make any dramatic or significant changes in our lives, we must learn to overcome procrastination. Very simply put, it will make us a better person or the person we striving to be. Happier, which leads less stress, which leads to better results.
Understand the Origin of Your Procrastination
Once you truly understand the origin of procrastination, you can learn to overcome it. Yes! You read correctly, you can learn to stop procrastinating. Keep reading and give me a chance to explain.
Procrastination is a very natural behavior so stop beating yourself about it. In fact, if you are procrastinating then your mind is working perfectly. Procrastination is keeping you comfortable, safe, and pain free.
What I have learned through studying NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is that you first have to find out what’s underneath the behavior. This is not easy. It fact it is very hard to dig deep into the unconscious mind. What is the image or memory in our unconscious mind associated with the behavior? It is typically deep rooted. It usually is tied to a past painful experience, maybe childhood, maybe 5, 10 years ago. Nonetheless the behavior of not taking action doing is tied to some past negative experience that is locked up somewhere in our unconscious mind. It needs to be uncovered, recognized, and released.
I read an example of a women who always procrastinated on expense reports. She would wait till the last minute to get them in. They created so much stress for her. At the surface, her excuse for not doing them was because she was lazy and hated paperwork. But after working with a coach, she was able to determine, it was more based on resentment. She had a secretary in her previous position that took care of her expense reports and she lost her. The deep rooted resentment for not having a secretary anymore was the real reason she hated doing them.
Procrastination is your brains way of creating positive resistance. In order to get over procrastination, you must find a detour point in your thoughts. Here is a great NLP technique that I recently started to use and it works well. I studied this technique in the Essential Guide to NLP-A comprehensive book on many techniques of NLP.
Here is the Proven NLP Technique
Let’s go back and use the example of my office.
Get in a quiet space away from all distractions. Take three deep breathes. In with the nose, out with the mouth.
We will be creating a few images in your mind. We will be transitioning from conscious thoughts to unconscious thoughts.
Here is the difference between the two:
The conscious mind is what we see and talk about rationally. It is our environment. The unconscious mind is the images we pull from memories, thoughts, motivation beyond our environmental awareness.
Let’s create some images in your head?
The first is an image of your favorite thing to do. It has to be something you do alone. Something that makes you very happy. For me the image is enjoying coffee in the morning overlooking the ocean and listening to the waves crashing into the sand. Once you have it close your eyes and envision your self in that place and the feeling it gives you. Put that image out in front of you.
Next, between that “favorite” image and you, put the image of the task you need to do. This needs to be a disassociated image, meaning you see yourself actually doing it or an image associated with it. For example, with my office, I see myself organizing all the paperwork or an image of the piles of papers on my desk. You must actually see yourself in the image.
Now at the center of the image you created for the task, make a pin hole so you can see the image that brings you happiness behind the image. For me it is making a peep hole of the image of me organizing the office, so I can see the image of me relaxing, drinking coffee and listening to the ocean waves
Open the pinhole a little more and the image should be getting brighter and larger. Keep opening the pinhole until you get the feeling of that really good activity. Once you feel really good and feel the emotional connection to the image, start closing the pinhole and you will remain in that good feeling. If the good feeling starts to go away as you close the pin hole, open it up again. Once you can completely close the image of the pinhole and still feel the energy of the “favorite” image, get started on the task.
This activity works! How does this work? Your mind is reprogrammed to believe that the task is between you and the favorite thing you want to do. Your motivation will blast you through the task. When I do this technique, I can actually hear the sound of the waves and smell the ocean as I tackle the task. It helps me get through the task.
Another way to do this is by creating an image of yourself productive in office with a clean space that you see behind the window or pin hole. How you will feel in that clean place and how you will feel when you are productive. Whatever works best for you. I see and smell the fresh flowers on the desk. I smell my favorite candle lit in the room. Start activating all your senses. The senses that activate your serotonin.
Give it a try and let me know if you have any questions!
My hope is that I served, inspired, and encourage you today. May you bloom into your full potential and receive your dream life.