Find the Solution by Identifying the Problem
Has the dictum "Just do it!" ever worked with a procrastinator? Maybe once in while, but rarely. If we could "just do it", we wouldn't be procrastinators! Coach Bonnie Mincu says that there are reasons we don't just do it, mysterious though they seem. Her new method, called "Procrastination Transformation", is based on the idea that the key to moving forward is identifying what is holding you back. That's a simple idea, but she implements it in a systematic way that can yield useful solutions. Here's how it works.
Identifying Your Personal Roadblocks
In tonight's free teleseminar, Bonnie said that what you do is to create an intention to act in the coaching sense, that is you set the scene in terms of flow, preparation, background sound, reminders, timing, and location. You try to create the best conditions for you to succeed. Then you track two things:
(1) Whether you succeeded
(2) If not, what got in your way
Generally, we dismiss what got in our way as our "excuses", things to just yell at ourselves for. But Bonnie says that without an understanding of what derails us, we can't find a solution. For example, if we have a plan to catch up on accounting after dinner and we think we're going to do that at 8pm, we may find that we don't actually get started until 9:30pm because of family obligations, and then we are simply too tired. That tells us that after dinner is the wrong time to plan to do this. Also, perhaps this is a task that is better done outside the home. I really liked the idea of looking at what derails us as actionable information instead of a shameful excuse.
Bonnie summarized the different categories and reasons for procrastination (or paralysis) in a chart she calls the Procrastination Transformation Key, which she has given me permission to provide here:
She distinguishes between "procrastinating" (narrowly defined as "unmotivated, don't feel like it") and "paralyzed" ("mentally stuck, unable to move forward"). To me, these are just different reasons for procrastination, but whatever. When I think about the tasks I haven't been getting done and why, and then look at this chart, I can start to come up with some ideas for possible solutions - which is a step forward.
In my case, some of my worst procrastination is not in the "paralyzed" group, but rather in the "difficult and tedious" section of "don't feel like it". Bonnie says this is "easy" to overcome, but for me it's not, not, not! This is where my accounting falls, and certain other dreaded routine tasks. The diagram doesn't contain solutions to the "Don't feel like it" group of reasons for procrastination, but Bonnie covered this briefly in an accompanying video on her Web site. I'm elaborating a little on what she said in the bullets below:"Don't Feel Like It" Strategies:
- Change your location - move to a different room, do it at your office versus your home, go to a cafe.
- Consider what you are doing before the task - create a ritual for easing into the dreaded task.
- Consider your energy level at the time you are setting aside for the task - don't try to do it when you're very tired.
- Use the "body double" strategy for stimulation and company - another person in the room, or the PA Chatbox.
- Use a timer to break the task into short microbursts like we do together in the PA Chatbox.
The solutions to the various reasons for paralysis are implied by the reason itself, as you can tell by looking at the diagram. For example, if you're blocked by not having the time, you need to make time, perhaps by not over-committing. If you're unable to prioritize, you need to learn to prioritize, etc.
Bonnie is offering a one-month long paid course in Procrastination Transformation starting May 23, 2012 with three online teleseminars and some other resources (probably the first course of many). This first course is $97, with a $20 discount if you register before May 18, 2012. It will cover only the "I'm paralyzed" reasons for procrastination, not the "I don't feel like it" reasons. It's geared towards people with ADHD, but I think the ideas are helpful for anyone who procrastinates, which is why I'm posting about it here.