Would You Rather Procrastinate Or Get Distracted?

This is not something to be proud of, but I have always been a procrastinator. My earliest memory of this bad habit is when I was in grade school and whether accidentally or not, I would be ready to go to sleep then remember I need to memorize something. So many times in college I would study for an exam or do a project a few days too late. Even in work, I would submit applications at the last minute.

There are better days when I spring out of bed excitedly, look at my schedule thinking “is that all?” or “bring it on” and feel like I can conquer the world. Sometimes, however, it takes all I have got to even leave the bed in the morning, overwhelmed by all the things I need to do, not knowing where to start, feeling worse at night thinking “what an unproductive day”. Never had it been more pronounced, and crippling, than during this pandemic, when I am so uninspired and demotivated. After months of going through this emotional roller-coaster, maybe it is time to finally do something about it.

Procrastinating and self-defeating behavior can seem funny, frustrating, puzzling, infuriating, or pathetic, depending on your perspective. I find it a very human trait, so widespread that we all bump into it nearly every day. The following are the types of mind-sets most commonly associated with procrastination and do-nothingism. You may see yourself in one or more of them.

1. Hopelessness.

2. Helplessness.

3. Overwhelming Yourself.

4. Jumping to Conclusions.

5. Self-labeling.

6. Undervaluing the Rewards.

7. Perfectionism.

8. Fear of Failure.

9. Fear of Success.

10. Fear of Disapproval or Criticism.

11. Coercion and Resentment.

12. Low Frustration Tolerance.

13. Guilt and Self-blame.

Do you know why virtually any meaningful activity has a decent chance of brightening your mood? If you do nothing, you will become preoccupied with the flood of negative, destructive thoughts. If you do something, you will be temporarily distracted from that internal dialogue of self-denigration. What is even more important, the sense of mastery you will experience will disprove many of the distorted thoughts that slowed you down in the first place.

David D. Burns, M.D. – Feeling Good (The New Mood Therapy)
Target SymptomsSelf-Activation TechniquesPurpose of the Method
1. You feel disorganized. You have nothing to do. You get lonely and bored on weekends.1. Daily Activity Schedule1. Plan things one hour at a time and record the amount of mastery and pleasure. Virtually any activity will make you feel better than lying in bed and will undercut your sense of inadequacy.
2. You procrastinate because tasks seem too difficult and unrewarding.2. The Antiprocrastination Sheet2. You put your negative predictions to the test.
3. You feel overwhelmed by the urge to do nothing.3. Daily Record of Dysfunctional Thoughts3. You expose the illogical thoughts that paralyze you. You learn that motivation follows actions, not vice versa.
4. You feel there’s no point in doing anything when you’re alone.4. Pleasure-Predicting Sheet4. Schedule activities with the potential for personal growth or satisfaction, and predict how rewarding they will be. Compare the actual satisfaction you experience when you are alone and when you are with others.
5. You give yourself excuses for avoiding things.5. But-Rebuttal5. You get off your “but” by combatting your “buts” with realistic rebuttals.
6. You have the idea that whatever you do isn’t worth much.6. Self-Endorsement6. Write down the self-downing thoughts and talk back to them. Look for distorted thought patterns, such as “all-or-nothing thinking.” Make a list of things you do accomplish each day.
7. You think about a task in a self-defeating manner.7. TIC-TOC Technique7. You substiture task-oriented cognitions (TOCs) for task-interfering cognitions (TICs).
8. You feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of everything you have to do.8. Little Steps for Little Feet8. Break the task down into its tiny component parts, and do these one step at a time.
9. You feel guilty, oppressed, obliged, and duty-bound.9. Motivation Without Coercion9. a. You eliminate “shoulds,” “musts,” and “oughts” when you give yourself instructions.
b. You list the advantages and disadvantages of any activity so you can begin to think in terms of what you want to do rather than what you must do.
10. Someone else nags and harangues you. You feel pressured and resentful, so you refuse to do anything at all.10. Disarming Technique10. You assertively agree with them and remind them that you are capable of doing your own thinking.
11. You have difficulty modifying a habit such as smoking.11. Visualize Success11. You make a list of the positive benefits of having changed the habit. You visualize these after inducing a state of deep relaxation.
12. You feel unable to do anything on your own initiative because you see yourself as “a procrastinator.”12. Count What Counts12. You count the things you do each day on your own initiative, using a wrist counter. This helps you overcome your bad habit of constantly dwelling on your inadequacies.
13. You feel inadequate and incompetent because you say, “I can’t.”13. Test Your Can’ts 13. You set up an experiment in which you challenge and disprove your negative predictions.
14. You are afraid to fail, so you risk nothing.14. “Can’t Lose” System14. Write down any negative consequences of failure and develop a coping strategy ahead of time.
David D. Burns, M.D. – Feeling Good (The New Mood Therapy)

I see what I need to do. I will start immediately and include this in my August checklist. Or maybe on September. The list is pretty overwhelming, I do not know where to start!

How do you overcome your tendency to procrastinate?

#ToABetterSarah #FindingSarah #FromZeroToHero

Sophia and I agreed to dance today. She did and I did not, maybe tomorrow.

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