Procrastination is something most people do at one time or another. When it becomes a regular habit, it can have negative impacts on your mood without you really being aware of the cause. The problem with procrastination is that while we are putting off the thing we are avoiding, we are wasting mental energy thinking about the task. We are possibly talking negatively to ourselves about not doing what we "should be doing". This happens when we see evidence of the incomplete task. For example, when we see the laundry bin overflowing, a small bit of dread or overwhelm may occur. When we see the calendar with a due date for a work project the heart rate picks up perhaps. In other words we experience stress in response to the undone task. Over time, procrastination on more than one thing can lead to difficulty with sleep, negative feelings of self worth and low mood.
I've heard many defend the virtues of procrastination. Sometimes procrastination is disguised as a gift to ourselves when we give ourselves a pass on a chore or task that needs doing. This is a false gift in that the good feeling is short lived. Eventually, we are faced with the task and a bit worse feeling about it after having avoided it. Other times we claim that waiting until the last minute makes us more efficient and productive when we do tackle the task. Anyone who has felt the level of stress that happens in the crunch time related to procrastination knows that's just not healthy or good feeling. Procrastination is gifting ourselves more opportunities to stress with more intensity about a task we don't want to do.
Procrastination can take over on small tasks such as getting the car oil changed, watering the plants or the bigger things such as paying bills, and work projects. It doesn't really matter the size of the project but putting tasks off just takes pieces of energy we all would rather have for other activities and causing unnecessary stress.
The trick with procrastination, much like many of the issues I help people with in therapy, is to recognize it is happening. Once it is identified, procrastination can be stopped. When I notice I'm putting off a task, I make a plan for when I will start the task and how much I need to get done to feel I've accomplished something. Sticking to the scheduled start time and breaking tasks down into smaller parts helps me to push through the procrastination. Once a plan is in place I quit using my energy on the task unless I'm actually, with intention, working on the task. Motivation to do the thing I was putting off will build once I begin to do the task, not before. So, the key to kicking procrastination is to make a plan/schedule when the task will get done and start. After I start, I rarely quit before I've completed enough to feel satisfied with the amount of the task I've completed.
So, what is that you have been putting off and is stealing your energy and maybe even your good mood? See if my trick works for you.