Mental Chatter and Procrastination
As you look back on your life do you feel that there is so much more that you could have done and should have done and why didn’t you do it?
It is not that you were too busy and did not have time. It is not because you did not have the talent or the know-how or the wherewithal.
It is simply because, you never actually got around to doing what you knew you should do. It was much easier to watch the dumb series on Netflix than write the position paper that would establish you as the authority in your field.
Simply put, you procrastinated.
Many have asked me, repeatedly, how they can stop procrastinating. I will show you how to do so right now.
The first thing you need to know is that procrastination and mental chatter are intertwined. There is a stack of dirty dishes in the sink and you know that the morning will not find you more liking to do it. But you leave it overnight anyway.
This is because your mental chatter is going, “I don’t like doing dishes. Why do I have to do them? I’d rather watch Ted Lasso. I’m too tired. I’ll do it tomorrow when I have more energy and am rested. Maybe the dishes will miraculously get clean by themselves overnight…”
Every time you procrastinate, your mental chatter is leading the way and telling you not to do what you know you must.
Here is a simple two-step process to eliminate procrastination.
First: Be very clear what you are procrastinating about. No good to think that you should ‘do more’ to work on your career. Great to say you should write a detailed proposal for the new marketing strategy you have conceived.
Second: Observe your mental chatter and see how it is leading you in every direction but the one you need to go. Ignore it and just get started.
If there is a stack of dirty dishes in the sink, just wash one plate and focus all your mental energy on that action. Let your mental chatter run on about other things you could be doing and don’t engage with it. Feel the warm water on your hands, observe the bubbles the detergent makes. Then wash a second plate. And, before you know it, you have an empty sink and a rack of clean dishes.
If you have a long report to write, just begin by writing the table of contents. And then the introduction. The report will be done soon and it will not be painful.
It really is that simple.