In a perfect world, you’d learn how to avoid procrastination.
But – as is often the case – what if you can’t completely avoid it, and procrastination begins to set in? Get ready for some mind games.
In last week’s blog post, I began the story of my swimming training and how badly I wanted to procrastinate and put it off until some other time. We left off in the story with me figuring out that I had to swim 16 lengths of the pool to get in my 400 meters.
Sixteen lengths? Egad, 16 is a big number. Whose stupid idea was this this anyway? I should just call Cheryl and tell her that I’m going to flake out and not do the tri. Seriously? You’re going to flake out?
No you’re not. You can do this. Just dive in.
Once I was fully immersed, the water temperature wasn’t so bad. The rash guard covered my torso, so that helped. I glided over to my starting wall – and proceeded to fake stretch out. I went through the motions of stretching out body parts and had no idea if anything I was doing was actually going to help my swim. Why was I taking forever to start? Was I afraid of failing? Was I afraid that my less-than-graceful swimming style would cause the three people sunning themselves poolside to snicker at the doofus? Was I just being a baby about the cold water? Was I nervous about getting hurt? If I’m being honest: yes, yes, yes and yes. Just do 8 lengths this time. You can do the full amount next time.
After two lengths, I stopped and leaned against the wall. As I’d swum freestyle, I realized that I couldn’t tell where I was without opening my eyes. I hadn’t brought goggles. My eyes will be red from the chlorine and might burn. I should stop now and just bring goggles next time. Hey, genius. How about you do the breast stroke and backstroke to keep your eyes out of the water? You got me on that one. Keep swimming.
After my third and fourth lengths, I was already winded. What in tarnation did I get myself into? This is a bad idea. No, it’s not a bad idea. It’ll improve my cardio and muscle tone, plus since I’ll be burning more calories, I can eat a little extra and have a bit more wine. Yup, I need to keep on going.
And I did. I paused every two lengths and counted down. 12 more. 10 more. 8 more. I can finish. I can do this!
As I crossed my make-believe finish line, I raised my arms in victory. I didn’t care if the sunbathers laughed. I did it! I finished!
I glanced at the poolside clock. I’d spent 15 minutes procrastinating and 20 minutes swimming. I could’ve been in a warm shower a whole lot sooner if I hadn’t procrastinated.
Procrastination is a choice.
When you feel procrastination setting in, you have the choice to give in to it or to work your way through it. Sometimes, working your way through it means arguing with, bribing, enticing, and/or sweet-talking yourself.
Ask yourself: How will delaying this task benefit me?
If you know that a delay won’t be beneficial, ask yourself:
Why do you need to work on this task? (If you understand the reason(s) why, you’ll be able to play better mind games with yourself.)
How will working on this task benefit me? (You can use the benefits and the why’s to motivate you and bust through your desire to procrastinate.)
For complete details about how to avoid procrastination (or at least cut back on it), read chapter 36 in The Inefficiency Assassin. Don’t put it off! (Ha-ha! Get it?)