Procrastination is something that anyone can struggle with. We know what we want but we question ourselves and our abilities to achieve our tasks. We tend to focus on these negative blocks, those questions of what if it doesn’t work, what if I’m not good enough, and what will people think? Procrastination is all neurological and we can move past it.
Paula Martin, Regional Director of Business NSW, identifies a neurological explanation for procrastination. It comes from our limbic brain, the part of our brain that deals with emotions and memory. This part of the brain is in constant argument with our prefrontal cortex, the area that helps with your decision making and risk-taking. In business, when you are setting tasks to accomplish, it can seem like it is too big to handle or too overwhelming and that is when your limbic brain tries to “protect” you and keep you in your comfort zone where you fall into old habits or just push things off… Your brain convinces you that procrastination seems like a good idea, but it is just a temporary relief which causes more stress and jeopardises your work.
So how do you fight back and focus on what you need to get done? Paula has three things she focuses on to help control her procrastination: planning, process, and people.
- Planning helps you to break down big tasks into chunks. By taking things one step at a time, things don’t seem as overwhelming and you feel more encouraged as you accomplish each step towards your overall task. It also helps to visualise your process – draw it out or colour code each step. This will allow you to see each task and pinpoint which step you might have trouble with and push you into procrastinating.
- Actually seeing the areas that you will struggle with can help you to acknowledge your procrastination and to focus on pushing past it and to put your processes in place.
- Lastly, people can help you to stay focused. By confiding in the people around you, whether it is your family, co-workers, or networking partners, you are taking some of the pressure off your own shoulders. You never know where a good piece of advice may come from or who you can delegate a task to.
Procrastination can really harm your goals for not only your business but for your personal life as well. Our brains are trying to keep us safe and in our comfort zones, but life happens where risk is involved. In order to keep moving forward, we want to always push ourselves out of our comfort zones, and with Paula’s three tips to stay focused, we can continue to push through procrastination and towards our goals.
This blog is based predominantly on the information given by Paula Martin during her appearance on The Stronger Than My Excuses Show: Procrastination… Breathe, Think, Do. See the full episode here