A Coaching Power Tool Created by Ioannis Asimakis
(Life Coach, NORWAY)
Procrastination leads us to believe that we have countless hours at our disposal but ultimately steals them.
Procrastination offers an illusion of freedom. It makes us believe that we have countless hours at our disposal but in the end, steals them. We are charmed by the promise of a carefree game but all it offers is a ‘Dark Playground’. This playground has the same fun activities as the real playground but if you shouldn’t be there, the experience is loaded with guilt and worry.
The person who has the habit of procrastination has a false sense of security. It feels optimistic that everything is under control, so there is plenty of time for laziness. It often underestimates the time it takes to complete an obligation, e.g. calculates that it will take 30 minutes and takes 2 hours to complete. This is why procrastination resembles a credit card: its use is easy and fun at first but then comes the bill with interest and the repayment is done with feelings of fear, anxiety, and dislike for ourselves.
However, it is difficult to stop the habit of inactivity because it is self-powered. Unfortunately, the cost of procrastination is not only a waste of time but also a reinforcement of the mistaken belief that the work we need to do can only be unpleasant. Also, the person, can not develop important skills such as planning, organizing, developing thinking, and attention to detail.
The treatment for this problem is difficult because procrastination is an attempt to tackle deeper problems that we may not even realize, such as anger, perfectionism, and self-doubt. Usually, procrastination temporarily removes the stress associated with these problems, the deepest causes remain.
The deeper problems of procrastination
The most common cause of procrastination is anger. Teenagers who disagree with the authority of parents and teachers may retaliate by delaying their lessons. For teenagers who feel powerless, an open revolution is not an option, because the consequences will be great and teenagers want to succeed. This form of revenge is manipulative and passive-aggressive but also very effective because it deprives people who have authority over the teenager their power and drives them crazy. A teenager does not have to worry about sabotaging himself because he cares more about his autonomy than about his grades. When he wants to avoid obligations he says: You can’t tell me what to do. I’ll do my job when I’m ready.
The person who has the habit of procrastination is trapped in a prison he built himself, he sees himself as the victim of those who set their expectations and makes decisions. He feels trapped in a situation he can’t win: Doing the job causes his uncomfortable feelings, and the same feelings avoiding the job. The “victim” approaches his job with the feeling that he has to do not want to do.
Like many procrastination people, under the anger and indignation, they hide a boy suffering from self-doubt. People do not start to suddenly feel helpless. It takes many years to question their abilities and wonder if they can respond.
Procrastination people often performed better at school when they were younger. But when the school became more difficult (as always) instead of increasing the effort, they gave up because they thought that since school stopped being easy for them, it meant that they were not smart enough. Trying to get better was not an option, as it involved the likelihood of failure and then the revelation of their alleged inadequacy.
A perfectionist can postpone starting a job because he is frightened by the huge effort he will need to do something perfectly. It will refer to work with words such as ‘owe’, ‘must’, ‘need’. Most perfectionists suffer from deep feelings of inadequacy.
His desire to do everything perfectly can conceal problems of self-esteem and self-confidence. High standards are very good, they help us set goals. Perfectionism starts when failure to live up to these expectations becomes unacceptable. The perfectionists who postpone doing things set unrealistic expectations and then avoid work to get rid of the stress it causes.
The job involves postponing the pleasure until it’s done and being able to cope with the stress and discomfort we feel when we learn something new. We can hear the low tolerance of a procrastination person when he says things like: this is not fair, it is very difficult.
Let’s look at some ways we can help our clients through the sessions to face up procrastination.
Addressing the justification
Let’s face it, procrastination persons are liars. They lie to themselves permanently about the time they will need to complete a task and that at some point they will have enough time to do it well.
To be able to stop lying to ourselves, we must first be able to recognize it. With the help of a coach, we can find arguments that will put off postponement. We can help our client without feeling that we do not trust him. With the right questions, we give him time to see the whole picture if any of his behaviors seem familiar:
- I am more productive when working under pressure, so I postpone all my tasks until a lot of pressure accumulates, and then I will complete them quickly and easily.
- I do this task and at the last minute, it won't take me long to write it.
- Chill out. It's just a job. If I don't finish it, will not come to the end of the world.
- I don't know how to solve this problem, so I wait.…
- 'll wait for the mood to come.
- The last time I waited until the last minute and everything went well, so why not do the same this time?
Challenge the negative thoughts
Procrastination persons have a negative attitude towards work. Here are some negative thoughts they make and some positive thoughts they can replace:
How we can help the client discover the roots of procrastination
These are some questions that could help the client to see the whole picture
- What are the real causes of delay?
- Record as many as you can think of.
- How do I feel when I postpone doing this particular job?
- How do I feel the next day?
- If I continue with this motif how do I imagine my life after five years?
- What do I need to do to trust me?
- If I break my goals into smaller pieces by choosing one track at a time, what would be the effect in the long run?
- If I start now what do I have to lose?
Challenge these real causes and overcome them decisively.
- Do only a small part of the job at a time.
- Change your home or work environment with messages that remind me of who I have become when achieving my goals.
- Five-minute plan: Work on something for only five minutes. At the end of the five minutes, do something else if you wish. Most likely you will be absorbed and continue.
- Apply the Pomodoro technique, a time-management method that is based on the idea that often breaks can improve mental alertness.
- Make a list of what you need to do, putting the most difficult tasks first and then the easiest ones. Then record the steps of your first problem. This way will help you overcome your fears and give you a boost.
As coaches, we must remember that we want to challenge commitment, not compliance.
- To do this, help the client focus on manageable goals instead of huge expectations. Praise him for the steps he has taken in the right direction instead of criticizing him for making mistakes along the way. Criticism only generates indignation and adds extra external pressure to the client to whom it revolves.
- Procrastination makes it easy difficult and difficult even more difficult. Combined with a victim mentality it creates additional anxiety and intensifies the negative attitude. Although some techniques can help they cannot stop the habit of procrastination. The only way to overcome it is to deal with it and actively participate in learning.
- This takes time and emotional development. But the benefits of fighting this habit are important, such as having spiritual peace, a sense of power, purpose, and having control of your life.
- With the help of a coach, the habit of procrastination can be transformed into a habit of action and love for ourselves. The benefits and spiritual growth that come are gifts of priceless value.