You defer, you delay, you drag your feet. You procrastinate. Perhaps you have a big job to complete and you feel overwhelmed; you're not sure where or how to get started. Or, maybe you have an unpleasant task before you and you would simply rather not deal with it.
Then there are those times when the task you're facing really isn't all that big, nor is it particularly difficult or unpleasant. Nevertheless, you find yourself putting it off day after day.
Accomplishing something, even a small thing, brings a sense of satisfaction. Conversely, putting something off repeatedly brings about a sense of dissatisfaction. The awareness that something is being left undone lingers at the back of your mind. You can ignore it, but it's always there. You're left with that nagging sense that you should have dealt with things by now, combined with the knowledge that you will have to deal with it sooner or later.
Drained Energy, Ongoing Distraction
Whether it's a chore around the house, or a difficult conversation with someone close to you, there's a cost to continually putting something off. As it lingers at the back of your mind, it eventually starts to drain your energy. It becomes an ongoing distraction. You may find that as you try to focus your attention on other things, your mind isn't as sharp or as clear as usual. There's cloudiness, noise, static, or subtle interference getting in the way.
While some people may find it a little easier to stay on top of things, nearly everyone has a vulnerable area where they are most likely to struggle with putting things off. Over time, it can start to feel like you're dragging a heavy weight around. How can you deal with this, in order to rid yourself of this heavy weight?
Here are some suggestions:
1. Start by being honest with yourself in identifying whatever it is that you're putting off. Speaking it out loud, or writing it down, brings it out into the open and makes it real, so it can't be ignored.
2. Next, be honest about why you're putting it off. Fear? Laziness? Disinterest? Once again, the illuminating effect of being honest and facing up to what's really going on can itself be very powerful.
3. Identify your reasons for attending to the task or situation. Why is it on your agenda in the first place? Why is it important? What do you gain by attending to it? What are the implications of delaying or not attending to it?
4. Come up with a plan, and identify the specific steps you need to take. If you're struggling to attend to something, being vague about it won't help. Being specific about the steps you need to take brings clarity around what you need to do and where you need to start.
5. Take that first step. Breaking through the inertia is typically the hardest part of the process. Once things are in motion, you have some energy and momentum to help move you along. Be specific in determining that first step: what it will look like, when it will happen, how you can prepare for it, etc.
Once you deal with whatever it is that you've been putting off, you'll feel a wonderful sense of lightness and renewed energy as a weight is lifted from your shoulders!
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