According to studies, us Brits spend on average 11 hours every week procrastinating. That’s 24 days every year!
It’s fascinating to me. And is a subject I love to explore. Which is lucky because almost every single one of my clients –has asked me for help with this!
The science of procrastination
Procrastination is not a new concept. Even the ancient Greek philosophers were no stranger to it. They called it Akraisa – which loosely translates as the state of acting against your better judgement. You do one thing when you know you should be doing another.
In the 70s, only 5% of people described themselves as procrastinators. But that number has sky rocketed in recent years, with up to 95% of students saying that they suffer with procrastination.
As humans, we have two selves. Our future self who we make goals for – such as becoming fit in the new year. And our present self who has to take the action to achieve that plan for our future self – getting on the treadmill. Now, our present self isn’t too keen on the long-term pay off. She wants instant reward. And there is the struggle. Who wins?
So, what’s the answer? Little steps. Literally in this case. You order the treadmill. The next day you set it up. The following day you walk for 2 minutes and reward yourself with smoothie afterwards. The next day you run for 5 and treat yourself to a Fit Bit. Then suddenly, before you know it, the anxiety about getting fit and all that procrastination has fizzled away and you’re entering the London Marathon in April! The problem was never running on the treadmill, it was starting to run on the treadmill.
Why do we do it?
There are two types of procrastination. One is putting off doing that job that you don’t want to do. And the other is putting off something you do want to do.
It seems crazy, because why would you actually avoid doing something you want to do - like running your own business? Because it seems too big a leap. You’re at point A and you want to get to Z and have no idea (or too many ideas) of how to get there. It’s overwhelming. So, what do we do…nothing?! We stay put.
Also, we need to understand that procrastination is essentially fear. You’re scared of your plan not working. What will everybody think if it doesn’t work? How will you feel about yourself when you fail? And worst still, what if it doesn’t fail?! What if your self-employment plan really takes off and you have to change your life, and yourself, to ‘catch up’ with your own success?
“Time is our most valuable resource. It cannot be bought, saved or regained. Yet 80% of people struggle with procrastination, and people between the ages of 20 and 30 spend up to 40 hours per week wasting time procrastinating.”
Peter Ludwig, Best-selling author of ‘The End of Procrastination’
Your inner self
So, we’ve talked about our present self, our future self. I’m now going to explain about your inner self! That niggling voice inside of you that’s been hanging around for ages – telling you that you simply can’t do this. You’re not a runner! It’s not what you do. You like TV and take aways! This inner voice also supports your procrastination habit.
Once you hear that, I want you to accept it and embrace it. Don’t feel bad about it. Don’t ignore it. And don’t catastrophise. Simply recognise it and push it away. Replace the story it’s telling you with a true story, “I felt so proud of myself for running yesterday and that smoothie was so good. I’m know I can run for 7 minutes without stopping today.” Then, just do it.
And that’s the one message I’d love you to take away from reading this. Do one thing. That’s all it takes to break the habit of procrastination. One small goal from your to do list, make one telephone call or write one line of your business plan. Then give yourself the reward you deserve.
If you’d like to book a call with me to talk more about all the ways I can help you, make a small step here and get in touch today.