Procrastination – the thief of time (and sanity)

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Lack of motivation and high levels of procrastination are frustrating traits we all harbour. Yet for those with anxiety or depression it’s multiplied by 100% or more, meaning it’s harder to get out of that rut you’re stuck in. Couple that with self-esteem issues ‘I can’t do it’ and you’ll never get things done. Having a huge to-do list and having achieved nothing due to your lack of motivation only serves to impact your low self-esteem further.

I am the sort of person who gives myself a million things to do – and I control that with just as many lists. But I realised that I was just re-making lists neater when I’d crossed a couple of things off to pacify my OCD tendencies – and I was not actually getting things done. When I realised that the biggest tasks such as arranging all my photographs from the past year (which had now become two years) had been on the list for 12 months or more, I decided I needed to sort out my procrastination as it would help to increase my productivity, subsequently easing my anxiety.

How do you get that magic motivation?

It takes a lot of stern words with yourself (which may well be deserved) but it’s definitely possible to at least minimise procrastination. I say this so candidly because it is so important to conquer the little urchins in your head that give you insignificant things to do; in fact it is imperative to recovery and improved mental health. I’ve included a few tips below that I have picked up over the past year or so which I am implementing in my daily and weekly routine – little tips which have made a huge difference to my productivity!

  1. Break down big goals. Staring up at a HUGE goal just gives way to self-defeating thoughts of ‘oh my god I can’t do this’ or more likely ‘I don’t want to do this.’
  2. Get your ‘worst’ job out of the way first. Your least desirable job of the day or week is best tackled first, if possible. It gives you the motivation to go ahead and do the other jobs because they don’t seem so monumental once you’ve got the one you were least looking forward to out of the way.
  3. Prioritise your to do list. Some of the things on your daily or weekly to do list don’t really need to be there. Break the lists down into manageable smaller lists – how many tasks can you physically do today? If it’s ten, cut it down to ten. Less imperative tasks can wait till tomorrow.
  4. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you don’t complete the tasks within the allocated time, don’t beat yourself up. Just take it as an indicator of what you can manage in one day and cut your lists accordingly for the next day.
  5. Putting it off won’t make it go away! When you prioritise, make sure you do so in order of actual importance and not in the order of what you want to do or feel like doing. If a bill needs paying and it stresses you out and you can’t be bothered with it, putting it at the bottom of your list will make it disappear. If you tackle it first (as in point 2) you’ll be laughing!

I would love to hear some of your own tips for minimising procrastination and getting motivation to do mundane every day jobs. Please share them below!

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Proof that anxiety is a state of mind

A friend shared this post with me the other day and I had to share it with you on the blog.

This inspiring, refreshingly candid, and fairly blunt, article written by Clare Atkinson was featured on the Guardian this week.

Having Generalised Anxiety Disorder myself, I can relate massively to the ‘previous life’ described by Clare. The irrational worry over the tiniest thing; the terrible panic attacks, feelings of acute inadequacy, the need for control over every aspect of my life.

However all that paled into insignificance with the diagnosis of terminal cancer. All the things she had wanted to do, places she had wanted to see; her best-laid plans, were now out of reach, ruined. She talks of the emotions and physical issues she had experienced having been instantly replaced by fear, anger, depression; all understandable given her recent news. With this came the realisation that she had been wasting her time and emotion on trivial things which had prevented her from doing what she truly wanted to do. And now, the crushing reality that it was too late to go back and do it all again differently.

Controversially, I’ve always said that in some ways those who face death (and come through the other side) are afforded an invaluable shaking up which changes their perspective forever. Whilst we all know what really matters (family, friends, love, food and water and a roof over our heads) as opposed to what doesn’t (material things, money, fame, looks), few of us believe that enough to change how we live our lives. To live them with some urgency; to do the things we genuinely want to do instead of simply doing what we feel is expected of us.

In the blog and in my book I talk a lot about this and how it is difficult to do. How unfortunate and horrifically sad that for most of us, like Clare, we are only given that sort of insight when it is regrettably too late.

Please read this; it will move you, and may make a difference to how you currently think or feel, especially at a time when we are busy comparing ourselves to others.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/22/after-my-cancer-diagnosis-my-anxiety-disappeared-now-ill-do-anything-to-keep-this-body

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