5 Tips for Overcoming Procrastination from an Old Millennial
Have you ever procrastinated for months at a time? That’s what I just did putting off adding this blog post to my website. I wasn’t going for a record or anything, just consistently lowering it again and again on my list of priorities. It may be because I don’t really love writing. There’s also a healthy sprinkling of impostor syndrome, exhaustion, life, laziness, and many other factors leading to my current situation. While it would be easier to just keep making perfectly rational excuses for not doing the thing, I’ve decided to maybe get my shit together and do what I do enjoy doing: sharing information and insights that hopefully help people feel healthier, more secure and empowered.
Many of the individuals I work with find themselves procrastinating frequently. It’s not a coincidence that the majority of my clients happen to be anxious young creative professionals. As an old “millennial”, who hates the term with the fiery passion of 1000 suns, here are the strategies that I have seen have the most success:
Make sleep a priority - if you're not creating and maintaining healthy sleep habits, you’re setting your mind and body up for failure. Research has shown that our cognitive abilities are significantly impaired with even moderate sleep loss. The average adult functions best with between 6-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Despite any late night rationalizations, staying up late does not actually prolong tomorrow from coming. It just makes it more painful when you still have to get through that same day, now with feelings of exhaustion, regret and disorganization.
Mindfulness - oh, mindfulness! Such a helpful and vital practice is becoming a played out, overused buzzword. Mindfulness in it's true nature is being in the present moment, free from judgement. Radically accepting the present moment, free from attachment, using the wise mind principles to discover one's next best action. Thus, slow down, breathe, feel, think rationally, then act. Afterwards, evaluate if there's anything you'd do differently for even better results next time. Hint: no need for guilt, judgement or beating yourself up for anything that didn't go exactly as intended.
Caffeine - raise your hand if you've forgotten that caffeine is a drug! 🙋♀️ It's a drug that can be super helpful when used in healthy ways at certain times of the day - usually best taken soon after waking. Not so much in the evening or even afternoon, especially if you tend to feel anxious, happen to be a highly sensitive person or empath, or have difficulty falling or staying asleep. That cold brew can help increase concentration, alertness, wakefulness. Look out for side effects of over-consumption such as: jitters, heart palpations, acid re-flux, GERD, and withdrawal headaches.
Self care - another annoying buzzword birthed from very important health practices. Can self care look like a shopping spree or glass of wine in a bubble bath? Sure! But by no means are those the first or only images that should come to mind. “Treat yo' self” in ways that will actually energize and restore you, preferably in ways that are not a strain on your wallet. Need a nap? A balanced meal? Time for yourself to make and stick to a personal budget that includes retirement savings and plans for your future? Do you prioritize healthy foods and activities? Are you saying no when you should be? Are you doing things that feel authentic and worthwhile or things that you feel guilted into or obligated to engage in? Self care should be a practice that helps you feel prepared and empowered to crush your personal, professional and creative goals.
Maintenance - keeping your shit together is easier than getting your shit together. I guess this is tied to all of the previous tips in that you're mindfully engaging in self care to ensure you're getting adequate sleep, nutrition, organization, and overall wellness. Maintenance isn't as easy as just keep going. It allows room for things to get off track, because that's just how life goes. Maintenance is your opportunity to recenter before sitting down to focus mindfully on the task at hand. When your environment is tidy, you are relatively energized and feeling secure, that is when you will feel less inclined to procrastinate.
Deeper motivations for avoiding a task may be indicated if you notice yourself doing anything but that particular task. Unpacking complex trauma, behavioral patterns, the many ways life has conditioned your experience to this point, can also provide more feedback for you in becoming the healthiest most effective version of yourself. A therapist is the best option, IMO, to get to the heart of this matter. Especially if you've tried these 5 strategies and still find yourself in a procrastination loop. In that case, let's set up either your first session or a free consultation.
Until next time, take good care of yourselves and one other ❤️