Procrastination – There’s A Reason For That


When the tree beneath my window changes colours every year a month ahead of all the others, I have to ask -is it an early adopter or are the rest procrastinators?   Every year it feels that this overachiever is letting me know that Fall is on the way.   Seriously  who needs to be reminded of that???  There’s a lot to be said for the soothing art of procrastination!


What that tree does, however, is remind me that tomorrow is here already.  All that “gorgeous weather” procrastination…all those “tomorrow is another day” moments … well, guess what… they’re over.  No more “why do today what I can put off until tomorrow”.  Procrastination is the antithesis of success – and diminishes self-esteem.  There comes a time when feeling good no longer feels good.


Procrastination has a purpose

Have you ever wondered why we procrastinate?  For some of us it’s because completing a task means dealing with the responsibilities that follow.  For others, procrastination is a way of staying out of the discomfort of pushing new skills beyond our comfort zone.  And for many of us  it’s simply that we’re stuck in rebellion mode and it’s a difficult habit to release.


Let’s face it, simply the fact that we’re entrepreneurs speaks of lone rangers and rebellious natures.


But there’s another reason …


Brain games – why our brain makes us procrastinate

Befuddled… anxious and usually no small amount of fear.  These are often the emotions we feel when embarking on something new – learning, or developing a skill.  Our poor brains -they’re trained to protect us; fight or flight.


Here’s how the brain plays into procrastination.  We start feeling anxious or fearful about a task we’re working on.  Our brain senses that something is wrong, so it leaps in to save us – pulling us away from that “dangerous” task and directing us to something more soothing.  It knows the things we love doing the most and guides us down that path instead.  Let’s face it, when we’re procrastinating, we’re always doing something we love, making our brain, and us, calmer.  Whoohoo, the brain has done its job.   It thinks it has helped dodge a bullet, when in fact, it has stopped us from moving beyond our comfort zone – and that is where, in business, all success lies.


Beyond fear

We need to desensitize the brain by de-stressing ourselves.  We need to understand what makes us fearful and anxious.  It’s uncertainty.  So how do we take the fear out of uncertainty?  How do we tell our brains it’s OK?


Begin with the end in mind

I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m going to suggest that the most common cause of procrastination – and all that anxiety and fear –  is not knowing where or how to start.  So while you’re kicking that idea around think about this;  instead of trying to plan something from point A to point Z, why not work it in reverse.  As Stephen Covey would say, begin with the end in mind.


Keep calm and carry on

Chances are, if you start by writing down where you want to end up (some people call it a goal, or a focus), you may find a starting point.  And when you have a starting and an ending (outcome), it makes the middle so much easier to fill in.  Once you know how the story ends, you can get a better look at the pieces that are missing… and that’s how you start.  Like a jigsaw puzzle, when you see the end you can start analyzing what you need to do to get you there.  And for most brains, solving puzzles is what they love to do.  Anxiety resolved.


It all begins with the first step – beginning with the end in mind.