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5 hidden procrastination triggers and how to mindfully fix them.

I admit it, I am the Queen of procrastination. Which is funny because when I have to, aka is pressed for time, or simply make the decision to do something. I can work nonstop for hours at high intensity and get things done in a very short time. I have a 6 gear that I can kick into, and I can use it to do a lot, very quickly, I’m just not always in it!


I also just love living life, and simply living life sometimes feels more appealing to me than my to-do list! You might feel the same way, and if you do this might be one of the things that is stopping you from reaching your goals. If so, please read on…


Procrastination has many faces, and some of them might not even feel like procrastination. You can even justify a lot of what you do with very valid excuses and reasons for doing “this instead of that.”


In fact, you may be procrastinating right now spending time reading this post instead of doing what you set out to do. Oops!

But since you’re already here let's look at 5 common productivity mistakes people make that lead to procrastination and the mindful strategies that can fix them


1. Failing to prioritize one thing.


I have a personal saying, that I’ve heard somewhere once which stuck with me. “Prioritizing is singular!” You can’t have a priority list of 20 items, and actually be prioritizing anything. I say these words out loud to myself whenever I feel that I’m trying to focus on several “priorities” all at once.


Pick the most important thing on your list right now, what needs to be done now, and then prioritize that, leaving the rest behind. Once this task is finished you pick your next priority. One priority at a time!


You might prioritize your list of tasks by deadlines, complexity, or any way that makes sense to you but remember to focus on the most important one first.


An added benefit of having only ONE priority at a time is that it can dramatically reduce the amount of stress you feel by having a list of 20 tasks screaming at you. If you can let the other 19 tasks go for now and focus your attention and energy solely on the task at hand, not only will you work more efficiently you will also leave overwhelm behind.


2. Trying to multi-task.


Stop multi-tasking! I’ll say it again STOP MULTI-TASKING!

Somewhere along the way, some clever efficiency consultants convinced us that it is possible to multi-task. This goes against the very fabric of the human brain. And before you start protesting this. Yes, you can think of something and do something else at the same time, like talking to your friend on the phone while folding laundry or listening to a podcast while driving.


You can do a lot of things simultaneously, but there is normally a level of “Automation” involved in one or more of these tasks, doing something that you can “do with our eyes closed”. However, when doing something that requires your attention, you can/should only do one thing at a time, if you want to get it done well.


Not only does trying to do several things at once cause heightened levels of stress. But by dividing your energy and attention, you are depleting your resources much faster, leading to exhaustion and frustration.


Singular focus is a meditation technique as well, so you can consider this as a way for you to actively train your brain to stay and keep the focus for longer periods.


3. Allowing yourself to get distracted.


Distractions are everywhere, and they are all competing for your attention, and if something feels stressful, slightly scary, or uncomfortable to you, your mind will even try to distract you to get out of feeling this way.


You can get distracted by a million things: social media, your kids, an unexpected meeting, a family member needing your help, or an unplanned phone call. Some distractions are external and out of your control and others are internal and completely in your control.


Life happens and you can’t do much about the things that just turn up, other than try to deal with them in a mindful way that will allow you to get back on track as fast as possible. However you can work on keeping yourself on track by; setting up boundaries, creating a distraction-free environment, and being mindful of what you are doing (don’t just pick up your phone and start scrolling).


Being mindful means paying attention, identifying, and noticing when you get distracted. This is step one in being able to change your behavior. Using a gentle, non-judgmental approach to get back on track is step two.


Cultivating a mindful awareness of your actions and behaviors and a compassionate approach to correcting yourself is key. Accept that you will become distracted, forgive yourself for getting distracted, and simply return to the task at hand, without beating yourself up about it.



woman in an office



4. Forgetting to take breaks.


Show me someone who doesn't take breaks, and I'll show you someone who's on the verge of major burnout. Resting is the most important thing you can do for your mind, body, and spirit. Taking a break when you feel overwhelmed, tired, or stressed out, can completely change your perspective on things.


It’s hard to be creative, productive, or even just keep a clear head when you are running on empty. Taking a break and resting (doing nothing) is necessary to give your mind and body relief. You can't push yourself forward when your battery is dead.


Remembering to incorporate self-care and listening to your body are crucial components, which are often overlooked, in achieving anything. High-level athletes put just as much emphasis on the restitution part of their training as the actual training, because they know the importance of rest.


So, make sure you pay attention to what your body is telling you and honor its wisdom if it’s time to rest – REST.


5. Setting unrealistic goals and underestimating the time it takes.


Setting goals that ultimately feel unrealistic is quite discouraging. You can’t get in shape or lose weight as quickly as you would like to, and setting the goal to do this will leave this little sliver of doubt in the back of your mind, that will ultimately end up making you frustrated and feel defeated.


The old saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day” still holds true.


Disappointment is one of the biggest reasons you start procrastinating doing other things. When things feel unachievable and out of reach you can have a tendency to slowly give up before you really get any traction.


I have another saying I say to myself, when I once again end the day, not having achieved all that I set out to do, and that is “Things take time”. I have experienced this time and time again. It is not that I don’t reach the finish line on my projects, it is just that it ALWAYS takes longer than I expect it to.


Now this is not a card balance to slack or take things slowly! Nothing gets done if you don’t put the effort, focus, time, and energy into doing it. But if you have in fact done just that. Spend energy, time, and focused attention in working hard on achieving something, then the next step is to accept reality and be grateful for how far you have come.


It might not be as far as you would like, but as long as you are making progress, and you know in your heart that you are giving it your all, accept where you are and keep moving forward. Releasing the shame and guilt associated with the feeling of “no being able to…” and replacing it with acceptance and gratitude will help keep you on track and moving forward with one step after the other and this way you will reach your goal.


Keep moving forward.


The reality of life is that you will get distracted, you will procrastinate, and you will experience feeling disappointed and deflated along the way. Nothing worth achieving is easy, it’s the hard stuff and the work you put in that makes not only the goal worth it but the journey to getting there a learning and growing experience.


By practicing mindful awareness and listening to your body, you can use your setbacks and slow progress as a chance for personal development and transformation.


Einstein said it best “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”

Imagine the kind of disappointment and discouragement he must have felt along the way, without ever giving up. Don’t let procrastination get in your way of achieving your goals, just keep moving! 

Disclaimer

The information found in this blog post is for general informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for a health professional's advice. If you are struggling with health issues please seek professional help. The use of any information provided in this blog post is solely at your own risk.


Author Mette Rosenqvist


she/her

With 10 years of supporting women release and manage emotional and physical pain to achieve optimal health, Mette is the seasoned coach and blogger behind MeRoyoga, a Holistic Health website. Dedicated to empowering women of all ages and backgrounds, her work is based on cultivating mind-body awareness and self-regulation through compassionate inquiry. As a Multi passionate coach, Mette incorporates several healing modalities to create bespoken sessions prioritizing inclusion, meaning, and accessibility and thrives on helping women discover all the choices available to them so they can build trust and safety in themselves, and move through life present, centered, and empowered.




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