Insights: I’ll Do It Later

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Looking at a blank page and wondering how to start my column this week. I keep turning to look at my Pinterest account to help me decide what I want to cook for Thanksgiving, rather than write my article.

It’s not that I don’t want to write my article. I enjoy writing. It’s not because I am lazy, or avoiding writing it, or not committed.

When I really think about it, it is a process writing my article, an evolution, and distracting myself allows that process to happen. The problem for most of us is that we become critical of the process and judge ourselves for it. We try to push ourselves to get it done rather than trusting this process.

That is not to say we do not actually procrastinate. There are times—you know, those tasks you really do not want to do, the ones that bore you, or feel too hard to accomplish.

We will get to that discussion in a minute. No I’m not procrastinating, I just have some other important words to share first.

I believe what we resist will persist. Therefore, if we resist and are critical of what we procrastinate on, it will become stronger. When we lean into our experience, that resistance will go away and allows the process to happen. Sort of like a flower; we cannot rush the process; we have to allow the fruition of its beauty to unfold.

There is true procrastination, where we keep putting off what we know needs to be done. There are many reasons for this: fear, feeling overwhelmed, lack of belief in ourselves.

The one that often plagues me is the feeling of being overwhelmed; having a project that feels too big to tackle. My solution: when I get overwhelmed I break the project down, and keep breaking it down until I feel capable of completing the task. This stops me from procrastinating. This idea was how I got through graduate school, as the idea of completing a doctorate was very overwhelming.

Fear is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination. Fear keeps us frozen, or makes us run away from or fight against what is causing our fear. The interesting thing about fear is that it’s often unfounded.

The acronym for fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. Most fears are just perceived.  Also the fear of something is often greater than the fear of actually doing it. By breathing, slowing down and taking a moment to regroup, this will allow you to move from fear to the frontal lobe in the brain where we are able to think through our decisions rather than reacting.

Then there is the issue of procrastination due to what I call the squirrel brain. This is when the shiny things in life such as social media, television, and emails easily distract us.

Limiting these distractions is important to being productive in life. It means being an adult in our lives, taking responsibility and showing up.

We all procrastinate to some extent; it is part of being human. However, if we are judgmental of ourselves for doing so, it only perpetuates the problem. It is not uncommon for us to feel shame, guilt, or self-loathing when we procrastinate.

So be kind, compassionate, and understand where the procrastination is coming from.  Then take the necessary step to move through the procrastination. It is worth it.

And look, my article actually got done before my deadline. I’m happy about that. Now I can go have fun on Pinterest.

Contact Dr. Shelly Zavala at or [email protected]


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