2 weeks ago, I discussed how I procrastinated before going snowboarding. I should have told you that upfront: I procrastinate all the time!
It’s quite a paradox in my life as I am known for being a very productive and efficient individual. The secret is that I’m very good at what I do because I have a true passion for it… and drop most of what I don’t like! Unfortunately, there is on one to catch these things and I end-up procrastinating on tons of thing such as:
- Repairing the dishwasher (all I needed to do is to fix the brackets!)
- Cleaning my home office (so I can’t see the color of my desk for ages now!)
- Go for an oil change (I know, this one can be very bad for the car)
- Do administrative tasks at work (since I work in finance, this could become a problem!)
Regardless if the task is important or not, I just let it go drift peacefully onto the pile on my desk that I don’t know the color of anymore and procrastinate. I’m telling myself all kinds of excuses. Here are the ones among my favorites:
- I’m tired.
- I’m busy with something else.
- And the most important: I’ll still have time to do it later!
I recently came back from a 5 week paternity leave (we get that inCanada;-D ) and I thought I would do plenty of things during this time. I had a long “To do” list. You know the type of list that keeps getting longer and longer as you never scratch anything from it? That kind of list. I obviously waited until week 3 to start looking at the list. One side of me had no intention of doing anything on that list again. It just looks cool to pretend that I would do it. On top of this, I had the perfect excuse: we just had another baby! So what the heck? I can say that I was too tired and busy changing diapers! This was the perfect plan until something very weird happened. Something that made me clear the To do list in less than 48 hours…
I Got Bored!
The first step to overcome procrastination was to get bored! I’m a man of action and am always super busy doing 10 projects at the same time. After 3 weeks sitting home, changing diapers and recovering while I don’t have to let my wife recover, I was about to blow a gasket. I was whining about the fact that we were not doing much during the day since we had to spend most of our time at home to take care of our 3 kids. This is when my wife asked me: “don’t you have a To Do list?”.
This was a shocking revelation to me: I could do boring things that I always postpone or keep whining that I don’t do anything with my life. Doing boring stuff was definitely less boring than doing nothing!
Then, I Attacked!
Being bored to death is definitely not my trick to overcome procrastination. It was just the trigger that completed my (temporary?) transformation. Since I didn’t know what to do anymore, I started to do things on my list. One after the other, I was getting something that I never got while doing something when I was procrastinating: satisfaction.
When you procrastinate, you usually get some relief at best when you accomplish the task. You actually do something when it annoys you to the point you want to go live under a rock to avoid it. This is when procrastination generates frustration. But when you stop procrastinating and start attacking your tasks one by one before they get annoying, you start to generate positive feelings!
I think this is the keeper: generate a positive feeling after doing a task when you have been procrastinating. And in order to do that, you must attack your tasks as fast as possible. So instead of thinking about the fact that these tasks are boring and that I don’t want to them, I was focusing on the satisfaction that I will have in not having a To do list ;-).
After 2 days, my list was done! So far, it’s the best experience to overcome procrastination!