Occasionally we all find that we end up with tasks that we postpone and never get around to accomplishing. And for most of us, this can cause us to spiral into an avoidance situation where we keep pushing off those items that we actually need to do. It's ironic, but due to the fact that we've procrastinated, we keep procrastinating!
Whether it's due to embarrassment, fear of discovery or simply not knowing how to proceed due to our delaying tactics; what could be simple tasks become emotional blocks that keep our to do lists full. And even worse, these unfinished loose ends tend to drain us of our energy and motivation, create stress and maintain a self-defeating avoidance loop. So how to get out of this sand trap?
One way is to look at simple solutions. This may seem obvious, but quite frequently we are so caught up in our procrastination baggage that we overlook the easiest or most basic answers. Hence if you find yourself unable to make a phone call — look at sending a well-crafted email instead. Unless it's an absolute must, an email can often suffice and accomplish what we think requires a person-to-person exchange.
Do you have many emails to send to several people on the same subject? Write one email and then personalize it for each person. Or send a group email and apologize for the lack of personalization. You're trying to catch up and time is of the essence. If typing out several emails is holding you back, the goal is to find a way to get each one written as quickly and painlessly as possible. And this is the crux of the solution — figure out exactly why you are procrastinating and then find a way to get around the emotional block.
Have a list of too many things to accomplish and no time to do them? How about asking for help? It may go against your grain, but often friends and family are happy to pitch in and give a hand when needed. If you've been working overtime and not able to do personal things, then asking someone to pick up a few items at the grocery store, assist in a painting project or helping do some yard work might be happily accepted — especially if you sweeten the pot with lunch or meet up for a cup of coffee. Just don't make this a weekly or monthly habit!
Can you afford to hire out? Whether it's a Craig's List ad, hiring a service or finding a Gal or Guy Friday to assist you, there are people out there who want some part-time work. So finding one or two people who are happy to run errands, do research or sit around the house waiting for the cable company might not be a big issue.
If it's simply a lack of time because of too much responsibility at work, then delegate your lower level items to someone else. An intern can be a big help in this respect. Or it might be time to talk with your own boss about lessening your work load. If this is the case, then present your proposal in terms of what is best for the organization (i.e. things are done in advance and with more care).
The reality is that our guilt often gets in the way and so we think we should be able to juggle everything and anything. In addition, we are convinced that other people know we have lapsed in our responsibilities and thus expect some sort of confrontation with them. This creates the avoidance scenario. However, the other persons involved may not even be aware of how much we've dropped the ball! They have their own lives and own work schedules to deal with and your procrastination could be the farthest thing from their minds. Hence bosses can be completely unaware of how much work we are actually doing or family and friends can not realize we might need a helping hand.
So look for simple solutions, make others aware of your need for assistance and see how much energy you suddenly start having not only for checking off your to do list items but also for the rest of your life!