Finding time requires being your best friend. You need to listen to yourself, understand yourself and stand up for yourself.
You may feel paralyzed by looming projects that fill you with dread. Here’s how to step in as a friend and make your life manageable again.
Your first step is to understand how you currently relate to challenging work.
Procrastination Motivation Quiz
When I procrastinate, I:
- (T/F) Constantly warn myself about not meeting the deadline on time.
- (T/F) Envision worst-case scenarios if I don’t use my time well.
- (T/F) Remind myself how terrible I felt the last time I procrastinated.
If you have answered yes to one or more of these questions, you probably learned this approach from your parents or your teachers long ago. It’s a time-honored technique, but an unproductive one. You cannot successfully fight fear with fear.
Here’s an exercise that helps you understand your ambivalence.
The short jump exercise:
- If you were asked to jump as far as you could, you would most likely do so easily and immediately. In fact, try it out now!
- Now, envision jumping the same distance, but this time over an area covered with sticky tar. Do you jump as quickly, or do you hesitate?
- Next, envision that you must leap this distance between two platforms, with a fifty-foot drop between them. Do you jump with the same readiness? How long will you procrastinate now?
Instead of upping the ante when confronted with a rigid time frame, try lowering the stakes.
3 Ways to Lower the Stakes:
- Deflate catastrophic fears. Ask yourself what’s the worst thing that can realistically happen if you don’t complete the job well and on time. After deflating overblown fears, affirm that you will honor your commitment, drawing upon whatever resources and skills you can utilize. Proceed by choice, not compulsion.
- Develop your assertive options. Break your project into smaller steps, and request any assistance that’s needed to ensure success. Claiming your assertive right to obtain essential support is a responsible use of everyone’s time.
- Define success realistically. You may be sabotaging yourself with exorbitant self-imposed expectations riding on a superlative performance. Rarely does one project make or break one’s life. Take the time to frame what you can realistically accomplish, and what can realistically be expected as an outcome. Once you let go of superhuman demands, it’s far easier to proceed.
So long as you rely on fear to mobilize yourself, you will never feel in charge of your life. Instead, develop your realism and assertiveness and enjoy your growing confidence!
How else might you become a better friend to yourself and make better use of your time?© Copyright 2009 Paula Eder, Ph.D.