Some things, at some times just feel all too hard.
Mental Paralysis: The act of creating logical excuses to put off doing what you need to get done
We are fully aware of things we can and should be doing, but we are deliberately or inadvertently putting them (or one big it) off. We all find ourselves suffering from some form of procrastination at various times in our lives. Our ability to get out of this state quickly is what can ensure we don’t get into a more damaged psychological state, like depression, eating disorders, high anxiety, etc.
The specific reasons for our mental paralysis can vary, but there are a few things you can do to overcome procrastination.
Stop running away from what you have to do
You don’t wake up in the morning and deliberately sets out to procrastinate. It is something that creeps up on you. You find yourself doing the strangest of unimportant tasks (cleaning your computer’s desktop, instagram, offering to help people that seem stuck) until you hit that awful realization that the day is nearly over and your intentions haven’t been met.
Recognize the drives – refocus on goals
There are some that explain procrastination as your mind taking over and enforcing rest. The tasks you avoid are usually uncomfortable or daunting, and your mind will steer your behavior away from these tasks, as you succumb to a path of least resistance.
During a procrastination phase, you find yourself talking on the phone to people for much longer than you normally would? Maybe you are engaging in more games, meetings, Surfing online from news stories to travel deals to real estate to YouTube clips.
The problem, however, is It can create a pretty damaging thought/behavior loop that locks you in. You don’t take a break to energize properly because you know you have a lot to do, so you might find yourself doing little ‘distraction tasks’ like checking your email every couple of minutes or so.
Refocus on your goals. Remind yourself of what you need to achieve and why
Stop bargaining with yourself – DO IT
The games we play with ourselves are quite amazing.
We have the incredible ability to make ourselves feel okay about putting off important tasks that have been causing us stress anguish.
We can stress internally over the delay before we start work, or how some insignificant tasks will be great to get done fast so we can approach the big daunting task with a fresh head.
You may find you nodding in agreement to your own silly internal games, but remember to snap out of it fast
Be mindful and reframe
Like most efforts of behavior change, mindfulness is highly essential. So often people focus only on the behavior. They tell themselves that they need to do something, they need to work harder, they just have to get it done – but this is rarely enough to create motivation.
Looking deeper at the thought loops that hold you back can be very revealing. Overcoming these thoughts can be as simple as reframing your perspective. For example, so many procrastination behaviours are ‘reward before effort’ thoughts. Things like “I’ll just take tonight off and get into it tomorrow” are examples of this. A much more constructive and motivating approach is to think “if I finish this whole job now I can really enjoy my weekend properly!”
So next time you find yourself burning time and not getting the important things done, take a moment to examine your thought-stream honestly. Are you telling yourself it’s too hard? The most influential voice in your life is the one inside your own head, so take charge and build a productive relationship that will help you to achieve a lot more.