Do you procrastinate? In many families children lack models for doing things effectively. You may have spent lots of time trying to figure out how others accomplish complex tasks and figured out rules that you should follow.

You may put off doing things until the last minute and then your parent self may kick your child self for the dreadful crime of procrastination.

What would happen if some extremely successful, highly publicized business figure produced brilliant results by doing everything at the last minute (and maybe they do!) And more importantly, if productivity-conscious parents and “significant others” no longer touted to us the virtues of getting things done early.

Would procrastination’s bad reputation disappear? Would we quit feeling bad about getting things done “at the last minute”?

Procrastination will probably never disappear, but seeing its internal workings can open up the possibility of procrastinating creatively, enjoying it and producing excellent results.

If you are a person who puts tasks off, you may want to listen to your own internal dialogue from the first “rescheduling” through to completion of the task.

The conversation always involves a parent self telling the child self to do something and the child self not wanting to do it. The child self goes to great pains and much worry to calculate how long he or she can delay until s/he actually has to do the task in order to avoid some consequences or to get something s/he wants.

In this form of procrastination, the problem is not to get the task done; it does get done and usually gets done on time! (how often we forget that part!) Instead, the problem is the discomfort you feel until the task is finally carried out.

The solution is to learn your own rhythms of working and to be comfortable with them, instead of worrying about adapting or not adapting to somebody else’s definition of the right way to get a task completed. Parental messages often keep us from examining our own patterns of working effectively. See which ones you recognize:

  • Keep busy,
  • Work hard,
  • You can’t play until the work is done,
  • You have to suffer to make something good,
  • Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

With all of this internal dialogue and possibly even physical discomfort going on, is it any wonder we have not really examined how we are most effective and productive?

Some people do their best work when they are close to the deadline. They clear their schedules and then put their entire concentration on one thing until they are done. Others need to spread out a task to keep “fresh” or meet other commitments.

Check into your own patterns by asking “When and how do I usually get my best work done?” Whatever you are doing now may already be the most effective way for you to work, even though your inner parent does not approve of it. If you are not sure of your best pattern, do some experimentation. Ask yourself:

  • Is the task something I want to do?
  • How do I want to do it?
  • What will be the consequence if I do not do it?
  • What will be the reward if I do do it?
  • What is the most effective way for me to do this task?
  • What is the latest possible, realistic time for me
    to start this task and still accomplish it to my satisfaction?
  • What am I going to do with the time I would ordinarily
    spend in the internal parent-child argument about the task?

You may just find that you are doing something enjoyable during that time when you would have historically been worrying and feeling bad. Remember, the suffering is optional!

[tags]emotional problems, personal growth, self help, self-improvement, workplace[/tags]