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> Back to Self-Care Excerpts List

Self-Care Excerpt from Don't Weight

Procrastination: the second of three tools to end it!

There are entire books dedicated to this one subject. I include this topic because procrastination is often one of the problems that gets in the way of healthy living and self-care. I want to give you the second of three ideas to help reduce procrastination.

2.) Dangle a carrot or fill your gas tank, whichever works for you.

There are an infinite number of tasks to be accomplished in one's life. Luckily, if you are creative, there are also an infinite number of enjoyable or rejuvenating activities too. It seems that a key to reducing stress is to balance these two types of activities. It is best if there are some tasks and some enjoyable activities in each and every day.

OK, that seems simple enough. But once again, it is not as simple as it may seem at first glance. I challenge you to build a quality list of enjoyable and rejuvenating activities. All too often, we end up using "tune-out" activities, like watching TV and eating, when we need a break from the tasks of life. Instead of really enjoying ourselves or really rejuvenating, often we just tune out and procrastinate on the tasks of life.

A common reaction to this procrastination is to PUSH yourself to stop procrastinating. I never find pushing to be as effective as pulling. I encourage you to PULL yourself to do the tasks in your life by having more quality in your enjoyable and rejuvenating activities. Here is how it works. Find activities to do that you really enjoy, activities that really make you feel better and refreshed. Then, you have two ways you can use these activities. You will find that sometimes it is better to use one way, other times you will be more effective using the other.

  • Dangle a carrot. Tell yourself that you will do the task FIRST, and then you will really be able to enjoy your next activity. After your task has been completed, you will really appreciate the rejuvenating/refreshing activity. Use the fun or relaxing stuff (that you will do after your work) as a carrot to dangle in front of yourself as motivation to accomplish the task. Pull yourself to get the task done because you look forward to the enjoyable or rejuvenating activity you will do afterward.
  • Fill your gas tank. Choose to do the rejuvenating activity first, before your task. Sometimes that is exactly what you need. Instead of constantly pushing and resisting the pushing, you can change your approach to tasks. Include some activity that will help you to feel better as a prelude to doing the task. In effect, you have put "feeling better" on your list of tasks. Then the second item on that list is the job or task (that you would have delayed starting for much longer.) This is like filling your tank before you get going. It can be very effective at reducing procrastination. The act of filling your tank is actually part of the trip. In a way, you have already started. You are not procrastinating.

I find a key to reducing procrastination is to gearshift between these two tools. There will be times when it is simply more effective to do the task first and enjoy or relax afterward. This is especially true if the task hanging over your head gives you stress. In that case, you need to do the task first to feel your best. If however, you are truly out of gas, then filling your tank may be the best choice. Only you can tell. You are the only real expert on yourself. You have the right to experiment freely with both of these tools. Try dangling the carrot. Notice how you feel. Try filling your gas tank. Notice how you feel. You will gradually gain skill at deciding which tool is the right one to use at any given moment. Give yourself permission to solve the problem of procrastination in the way that works for you. You don't have to push yourself with a feeling of "should" or "ought to". You are entitled to do what is best for you.

"Dangle the Carrot" is the second of three unusual ideas for reducing procrastination. Good. New ideas have a good chance of making a difference. To reduce procrastination, you will hear more about the other three following ideas:

4.) Just start!

5.) Dangle a carrot or fill your gas tank, whichever you need.

6.) Add one more client to your list: that client is YOU.

Remember, you choose. You experiment. You assess the effectiveness of your choice. If it worked, enjoy. If your choice did not work, just try again with another choice!

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