Put Off Procrastinating!

Last week, I filed for a copyright on a training course I finished a while back. (It’s called Coaching Your Client to a Successful Close, and it teaches basic coaching techniques to real estate brokers and agents. as part of the required 45 hours you need to renew your CA agent or broker license every 4 years). I procrastinated filing for the copyright for a couple of months, which is not really like me, only to discover that it took under an hour, and only $35.  What a waste of all the emotional energy involved in procrastination — the weight, the dread, the self-judgment!And some problems have a way of getting bigger if you procrastinate them. A small plumbing leak, dealt with immediately, is no big deal. But if you don’t deal with it immediately, it can cause a mold infestation, or the warping of your floor, or worse.

This got me to thinking about procrastination — why we do it, and when. There seem to be 4 reasons to put something off:

  1. Not knowing how to do it
  2. Being overwhelmed
  3. Expecting a bad outcome
  4. Having higher priorities on other things

Let’s take these in turn.

Not knowing how to do something – Yes, it’s scary all right. You have no idea how to begin.You don’t even know what you don’t know. This thing looks HUGE.

There really is no cure for this one, except to start. Start by asking questions, or googling anything you can think of that might be related. Then follow wherever the trail leads you. I had no idea how to do a copyright. Was I going to need an attorney? How expensive was this going to be? Terrifying.

Information has a way of showing up when you need it, though. I got an email list notice for a free telesiminar with a copyright attorney. The attorney said you could do it yourself (sigh of relief) and recommended her own book, of course. So I bought the book, which said you should go to www.copyright.gov.

On copyright.gov, there was an ebook explaining the procedure (not all that helpful) — and instructions on the website as to how to do it. Basically, answer a few questions, pay your $35, and then upload your file. That’s it!

Being overwhelmed – There are a few curesfor this one:

  • Chunk it down – There’s an old saying, “The journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step.” And so it is with projects — they can all be broken down into a number of steps. Any one step should not overwhelm you. If it does, it’s not really one step! Break it down into even smaller parts, till each one feels manageable.
  • Get help – No, you can’t do everything yourself. Lately, I’ve been having huge technical problems because various versions of the software programs I use don’t play well together. I can’t figure this out myself — so yesterday alone, I spent 6 1/2 hours on the phone with tech support from Microsoft and Apple. As this seems excessive, I’m considering finding someone who can do it with a little less involvement on my part.
  • Pace yourself – You can’t do it all at once, either. Choose one step, preferably what seems like it should be first, and do that. Don’t expect yourself to do all the steps in a particular time frame. You may not be in control of all the timing — things take as long as they take, not your idea of how long they should take.

Expecting a bad outcome – Maybe you dread doing something, so you put it off. That dread is a part of you expecting something bad to happen when you take action. What is it that this part of you is expecting? When you’ve identified the expected problem, you can then identify what you can do to ensure that what you expect doesn’t happen.

Let’s say you need to change an appointment with someone, but you dread doing it. Here’s where it’s important to check inside. Why do you dread it? When you check inside yourself, you may discover that part of you is afraid of offending the other person, or afraid that if you ask for the change, you’ll never get an appointment at all. When you realize this, perhaps you’ll think of things you can do to short circuit the problem, like asking on the phone, instead of by email. And you’ll remember that sooner is a much better time to solve this particular problem than later.

Having higher priorities on other things – This is not really procrastination, but rather the realization that you can’t actually do everything at once, and some things are more important than others. If you’ve relegated a particular job to a lower priority, then stop calling it procrastination, and stop beating yourself up for ignoring the task!

Hollis Polk is a personal coach (www.888-4-hollis.com), who has been helping people create lives they love for 15 years, using neurolinguistic & hypnotherapy techniques, decision science, clairvoyance & the common sense learned in 20+ years of business. She is an NLP Master Practitioner, hypnotherapist & has a BSE in engineering from Princeton & a Harvard MBA. She is also a successful real estate broker, investor & business owner.