Confronting my P-Bullies {Part 4}

People-Pleasing, Perfectionism, Performancism, and Procrastination.

The journey of confronting my p-bullies continues today as I consider procrastination.

I sat down to write tonight about procrastination. And like the mouse who was given a cookie, I was reminded that in order to write about procrastination, I needed to watch a video of Ellen Degeneres talking about procrastination–a fabulous routine that we often quote.

Then, after the video was finished, a recommended video popped up on you-tube–Ellen’s 1st live routine on the Johnny Carson show in 1986. Amused by the routine, I copied the link and headed over to my best friend’s Facebook page to share the video with her.

While on her Facebook page, I saw another post from a mutual friend about Go-Gurt–a family favorite, and of course, another great Ellen routine. So, I reached into the freezer to grab a Go-Gurt–they are best frozen–so I could take a picture of it for my friends. I mean, that’s what we do, right? Post random photos of food on social media. Isn’t that what social media is all about?

“Stop it, Mary. Just stop it,” were the words that quickly came to my mind. Which of course led me back to you-tube to watch a fabulous routine from Bob Newhart–another frequently quoted sketch in the Davidson home.

And 20 minutes later…I still haven’t written a word on this blog.

And there you have it.

Procrastination at it’s finest.

Always finding something to do, other than what I actually need to be doing, and convincing myself that I will eventually finish the important task…eventually.

“We think it’s OK to procrastinate, because we’re going to do it later, for sure. Our future self will be incredibly productive and focused! Except, our future self is also lazy, and doesn’t do it either.” – Leo Babauta, quoted in The Cure for the Perfect Life

But this is the way it has always been. Last minute. Late nights. And I make the excuse, “I work better under pressure.” In fact, I’ve been praised by many for my ability to whip out a 20 page paper in a few hours, create a beautiful gift moments before the start of a birthday party, or plan an event the week before.

In high school, much to my mother’s dismay, I would always wait until midnight the night before a paper was due to sit down and write, ultimately showing up at her bedside in tears at 2:00 am and asking for help.

Then, in college, I was the queen of all-nighters, running across campus in my pajamas to turn in a paper on time–a paper that I had fully researched and written in only a few short hours before the morning deadline.

I was a procrastination professional–and had the straight A’s to prove it.

But then the worst occurred. I was given a task without a deadline. A professor decided that I had performed so well in previous courses that he was going to give me an “A” and to “just turn the final paper in whenever you finish it.” That was 2005. It’s now 2014. A Juris Doctorate and a Masters in Psychology, and I still haven’t finished the paper from my final course in undergrad.

Just a few years after this assignment was given, this dear professor passed away. I sat in the hallway at law school and cried. He was a dear friend and we had traveled the world together. He would be missed.

But more than this, I cried with the overwhelming guilt and shame. He had give me an “A” with complete confidence that I would submit an “A” paper. And without a deadline, my procrastination bully took over.

Fast forward to 2013. I was enrolled in a course for my master’s degree, knowing that my due date for baby #3 would fall mid-semester. This kind professor granted me an extension for my final paper, saying “just turn in the final paper whenever you can.” The words were too familiar, and my heart became overwhelmed.

But again, the bully took over. “You don’t have time for this right now. You can always finish it later. Just pick one night in the near future and knock it out. You don’t have a deadline, so you will be fine. You perform better under pressure anyways.”

Now… one year later, and enough is enough. It’s time to put my foot down and make some changes.

Can you relate? You may not have a term-paper that is nine years late, but perhaps you have bitten off more than you can chew. Have you said yes to something you just don’t have the time for? Are you feeling overwhelmed by projects in your home that never seem to get finished? Do you keep putting something on the back-burner, convincing yourself that you will have time for it later?

Here are my steps  that I am taking to confront the procrastination bully. Perhaps they can be a blessing to you as well.

1. Acknowledge that I have a problem with procrastination.

Like many struggles in life, the first step is always to acknowledge that we actually have a problem. And procrastination is no different. No more excuses. No more lies that I work better under pressure.

“Hi, my name is Mary, and I have a serious problem with procrastination.”

2. Put down the smart phone and take a break from social media.

Be very careful, then how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15

We are given only a few hours each day. And a few days each month. Time is limited. So, why do I choose to spend so much time wasting it? Social media has become a quick friend of procrastination, easily distracting me from what is really important. And oh, the smart phone. Don’t get me started on the wonderful invention of the smart phone!

But it’s time for a break. And so, I have given myself some boundaries of when and where I can use my phone or go on social media. In fact, I might even try a 30-day challengemight being the key word. But it is still important to consider the impact and distraction that social media is having on my life. And it’s time to put down the phone.

3. Evaluate what actually needs to be started or finished.

I took some time to evaluate the minor tasks that seem to slip into my list–like re-organizing my children’s toy box for the one-hundreth time. When I am trying to avoid the larger items on my list, I always seem to find something minor that just has to be done right now. But does it really?

I also made a list of the ten tasks that I have been putting off. Of that list, I evaluated what actually needs to be completed and what can be crossed off. Some big tasks and projects…well, lets just say it’s time to let go. I am never going to label all of our books with “From the Library of ______” stickers.

4. Divide the larger task into smaller more manageable steps.

Like eating a large piece a pie, it is always better to take one bite at a time. Kathi Lipp shares, ” When I can objectively break down the project into bite-size pieces (fifteen-minute tasks, for example), I’m not nearly as overwhelmed, and my dread of the project turns to a desire to get some checkmarks toward completion.”

This is how I will tackle these larger, dreadful, and overwhelming projects that continue to haunt me (the ones that actually need to be completed, remember?). I will take one step each day towards completion.

5. Stop it. Just stop it.

When all else fails, sometimes I just need to remind myself, “Stop it. Just stop it.” Grab that quick cup of coffee, and GET TO WORK. There is nothing holding me back but myself, and sometimes, if I’m honest, I just need to get over it and get the job done.

And so the challenge begins. What will I do when the procrastination bully appears again?

Well…first things first…it’s time for me to write two papers.

{Share Today} Please share in the comments today:

  • In what areas of your life are you procrastinating?
  • What fears are holding you back from starting or completing a task?
  • What brave steps can you take today to confront procrastination one piece at a time?

Cure-for-the-Perfect-Life-COVER-1000-x-1545-662x1024This series is derived from and inspired by The Cure for the Perfect Life by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory.

{Read Chapter 1} You can get a taste of this fabulous book by downloading and reading chapter 1 Here.

{Buy the Book} Get your own copy of this amazing book, Here.

Remember, check back next Monday for the final part in the series, “Confronting my P-Bullies {Part 5},” as we summarize this #braverliving rebellion and make a few final comments.

For those of you who missed it, here is the rest of the series:

{Part 1} People-Pleasing
{Part 2} Perfectionism
{Part 3} Performancism

Mary 🙂

One thought on “Confronting my P-Bullies {Part 4}

  1. Oh wow, Mary — I SO relate! My MA took several years longer than necessary to finish, and although I had some very valid “extenuating circumstances,” the core truth was procrastination. I welcomed those crisis situations with open arms, thrilled to be able to refer to “the situation” when explaining to my advisor why I’d gone yet another semester without progress.

    I’ve got a 20-page paper from a summer class to write not to mention a book proposal that’s I’ve been “almost done” with for about 7 months, now. I’ll pull them both out today and cheer you on along the way!

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