Why do many physicians procrastinate? In this 3-week series, we will work through procrastination’s most common causes and tips for leaving procrastination behind.
Let’s start by defining procrastination. It's described as an act of delaying or postponing something. Note the word action. It’s an action, a behavior, not a personality trait. The reason I make that point is too many physicians define themselves by an action. Defining yourself by a negative behavior leads to shame. So, you may procrastinate, you may even have a habit of procrastination, but you are not a procrastinator. Separating yourself from the behavior allows room to grow, and change isn't as daunting.
First, let's deal with the times when you may have benefitted from procrastinating. Maybe something was canceled before you even completed your effort. Perhaps you feel you benefit from the last-minute pressure. Maybe you feel like it’s a matter of getting things done efficiently right on time.
Now, let’s look to reflect even more globally. How many times did procrastinating pay off because the event was canceled or the task was no longer needed? Likely the minority.
When you have something hanging over you, how does it feel? For most of us, it feels like pressure, adding stress and a perception of too much going on, and leads us to dread and perpetuate the cycle. Tasks really start to stack up on top of each other, increasing the burden and feeling overwhelmed even more.
Let's talk about that last-ditch effort to meet the deadline that pushes you? We all work best and most efficiently at the top of the bell curve. When you procrastinate, do you end up working at the top? Or are you on the other side of the peak? What is that like for you? Does the excitement outweigh the stress and negative self-talk? Does the effort bleed into the other areas of your life by taking up time for family, different tasks, and self-care, including sleep? Do you build up resentment? Is it worth it? If you really benefit from time pressure, you can reproduce that by leveraging Parkinson's law that we discussed previously. Set the amount of time you want to devote to it, and get it done at an efficient pace - ahead of time!
Overall, if you could wave a magic wand and get things done without the added stress, pressure, dread, and sacrifice, would you want to forego procrastination? I ask because you can't change until you're ready. If you’re not sure, catch yourself in the act of procrastinating next and work through these questions to decide if you want to remain in the pattern or not. If you think about it, you're really choosing minor discomfort now (getting started) vs. more discomfort later (anxiety, stress, negative self-talk, neglect of other issues and self-care, disappointment in a rushed product, etc.).
Are you ready to alleviate the unnecessary suffering that comes from procrastination? If you are, then the next 2 blogs are for you.
Have a joy-filled day, Tonya
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