I recently noticed that I’ve gotten into this mode procastinating (say it ain’t so!). I dont like it. There are things that I need to do, but rather than get them done, I’ve been letting them pile up. Things like billing, marketing, and bathing the dog. As you can imagine, I was getting further and further behind…and a little overwhelmed. I had to get this procrastination thing under control or else it would have only been a matter of time before I lost my mind (not a good look for a therapist). It was quickly getting to where I would need extensions from my students. Something had to be done. (cue Superman theme music).
So I sat down one day and decided to get to the bottom of this. After I had compiled a list, I realized something amazing! The activities that I was consistently putting off were ones that I dreaded. They were things that I felt were unpleasant and downright painful. You know what they are:
-Grading papers (sorry to any of my students who may be reading this)
-Calling banker who handles my business accounts.
-Negotiating student loans with Sallie Mae.
-Going to the Post Office (during holidays!)
-Following up with insurance companies about unpaid claims.
-And so on…
Usually these are the sorts of things we can’t wait to pawn off to someone else. However, when you are the CEO-Chief Everything Officer, you don’t have that luxury. If they are going to get done, it has has to be you. Otherwise, you end up with a stack of unopened mail and voicemail messages you’re terrified to listen to. Like every self respecting individual, I was telling myself that I would get to it tomorrow.
Tomorow never came.
So after a few months and tomorow never coming, I had to do something. I thought of hiring paid staff. However, I was behind on billing and consequently behind on being paid and that was not an option. Next I looked into taking on an intern. No one I asked expressed any interested. I started to teach my 5-year old and 3-year old how to sort mail, but they ended up just colored on everything.
I decided then I needed to schedule “Hard Days” in my calendar. Once a week I have a list of things I dread that must get done. Everything from challenging projects to unpleasant phone calls. They are the only things I focus on for that day. My first “Hard Day” left me exhausted. Furthermore, I was shocked at how much I was holding myself back by avoiding certain tasks. I discovered checks that needed depositing and business invitations that had expired all because of my procrastinating.
After doing this for the first day, I noticed that while I was disappointed by the reality check, I immediately felt better. It wasn’t because I enjoyed talking to the insurance company, or sorting mail, but rather because it was DONE! I knew where I stood with my business. I could move on with my life and didn’t have to fear the unknown. It was no longer holding me hostage.
The crazy thing about this is I apply the same approach to my classes. With every assignment, there is at least one student who wants an extension. I do not give extensions. All of my due dates are hard deadlines. Why? You don’t want to be working on a research paper any longer than you have you have to. I’ve had to explain this to students in every class I teach. Now it was my turn to take my medicine.
Today, I have gotten to the point where I don’t need weekly hard days, but I have one every couple of weeks to a month. for maintenance. Take it from me, the sooner you can get your procrastination under control, the better it will be for you. If you have had an issue with procrastination, tell me about it. What were your reasons? What steps have you taken improve it? Perhaps you’ve found a way to procrastinate and be okay, tell me about that too. Now I need a nap…I’ll publish this post tomorrow.
Jameson is a husband to 1 & father of 3. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Professor of Social Work. His specialties include marriage/family therapy and working with Caribbean immigrant families. For more info, visit www.jamesonmercier.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For the latest information or to socialize, follow us on Facebook at The Haitian Therapist or via Twitter: @HaitianTherapy.