Everyone’s favourite procrastination patterns (6)

Focusing on what’s missing

This one is last, but by no means least. We are all good at this and most of us practise it not only daily, but hourly and by the minute. –

You don’t believe me? – Do you keep a list of things you need to do each day (and it doesn’t matter whether it is on the computer, in a notebook neatly organised, or on lots of scraps of paper as you go along)?

What do you look at, at the end of the day? – All the things on the list you didn’t get down to? – Thought so. The good news is: you’re not alone.

Interestingly, the ‘Focusing on what’s missing’ pattern often stems from the fact that we’ve been taught not to put ourselves forward when we were young.

It manifests itself in a sense that “as long as this project/task/goal isn’t finished, I haven’t accomplished anything”. So we’re climbing up this mountain of a task, and all we concentrate on is how much further/steeper we have to climb.

This leads to exhaustion or a feeling of being overwhelmed with the task. Because we’ve never stopped, looked back at what we have achieved so far and celebrated the progress we have made, we get discouraged and/or give up.

Everyone’s favourite procrastination patterns (5)

Choosing to lose

This one is slightly surreal.

Do you hate losing? Do you hate losing so much you avoid situations which bring you into competition with people? – Welcome to the Choosing to Lose procrastination pattern.

Procrastination provides the perfect way to avoid competing with others. Avoiding competing with others guarantees failure. If you don’t compete, you can be absolutely certain that you’re not going to win.

So you are spending all that energy to achieve something you hate. Interesting? Weird?  Possibly both, but that’s how it works.

You console yourself with a sense that “I would have won, if I’d tried”, which preserves your illusion of being a winner. However, looked at closely, the illusion fails to convince over the long term, which increases the fear of ever competing…

You can see where this is going…

Everyone’s favourite procrastination patterns (4)

Paralysis by analysis

This is another favourite of many people.

You are taking on a goal/task/project. Before you begin, you start to analyse what and how it needs to be done. This is good, as it is necessary to plan a project through step by step.

However, while analysing, you start to convince yourself that this has to be done the ‘right’ way. And until you’ve identified that way, it’s no use getting started. You might only have to undo some of what you’ve done already.

You are reluctant to commit to any course of action without more analysis. And the more you analyse, the more potential risks you identify, which need more analysis. This zero risk approach leads to complete paralysis, and nothing happens with the project at all.

Sounds familiar?

Everyone’s favourite procrastination pattern (3)

The Lone Ranger

This is very popular with people at the helm of a business. You feel you can – or even MUST – do everything yourself. Either because you’re so smart, creative and amazing (remember
Avoiding Effort?) or there is a sense of: “If I ask for help or delegate any responsibilities, it is a sign of weakness and lack of ability.”

This creates a feeling of isolation and overwhelm and, unable to do everything yourself, you resort to delay or avoidance.

Think about the challenges that you face in your business/job every day and how often you feel a ‘fake’ if you don’t (immediately) know how to deal with it. –

How do you deal with that?

What is your preferred course of action?

What is your ‘default’ setting?

How often DO you feel comfortable to ask for help – and who do you ask, if you do?

Everyone’s favourite procrastination patterns (2)

Avoiding effort

This is a very interesting pattern and goes something like this: you’re smart, creative and always able to make the right decision – so taking on this task/goal/project will be easy for you. However, when things get tough, and you are down to the boring implementation rather than the big idea, you get a frustrating feeling: ‘I should be able to do this easily. Why is this hard?’

This one comes from a place where your self image of being smart, creative and able is quite closely connected/identified with what you do (rather than who you are) – and therefore, when the devil jumps out of the detail, it rocks your self esteem.

You start to worry so much about not being able to do this task/goal/project or facing the disappointment of having to work hard that you start to delay or even avoid it.

So what’s going on there, then?

Everyone’s favourite procrastination patterns (1)

In our research around procrastination, we have looked at many ways of how people procrastinate – and we have identified a few Favourite Patterns – 6 in total watch this space to get to know them all.

Let’s start with what currently seems to be ‘Everyone’s Darling:

Last minute mania

This is probably the most popular, which is why we start with it. It involves leaving everything to the last minute, rushing around in the end and really pushing the boat out to achieve or deliver the task.

This one is all about proving to ourselves how brilliant we are – I mean, how good do you need to be to be able to pull this off? Deliver, even though you only just started late last night?

Some of us get off on the adrenaline of that. Some people even confuse it with Just in Time management. Great stuff, isn’t it? – If it wasn’t for that nagging feeling right after, which whispers: “Of course, I could have done better, if I’d had more time.” This is added to by some pressure from your colleagues/peers/staff, who don’t appreciate always having to wait for you to deliver.

Or you might have a colleague/client/supplier that does it to you? Not quite as much fun on the receiving end, is it?

EQ or IQ?

Following from the last blog, it’s probably time to look at what’s going on behind those patterns, and whether we’re just ‘condemmed’ to live with them forever…

Well, you guessed it, all is NOT lost -  We CAN do something about our unwanted behavioural patterns,  if we look at the problem using our EQ rather than our IQ.

Our Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ) is more use in beating procrastination than our Rational Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Why? – Because procrastination is not a rational problem. (Frankly, if it were, you would have solved it by now – we’re very good at solving rational problems)

Something is going on underneath, on an emotional level, which keeps us in our procrastination loop – and the illusion that there is nothing we can do about is part of the loop.

So, let’s have a closer look at this? – What are the sort of things you do to keep yourself in your procrastination loop? – What are your avoidance techniques? What are the excuses you tell yourself?

Getting down to business

Are you frustrated because your business isn’t where you want it to be? Are you too busy trying to get through your ‘to do’ list to concentrate on what is strategically important?
Do you:
•    Put things off until tomorrow?
•    Busy yourself with long lists of jobs to do every day?
•    Still find you are unable to achieve your strategic goals and targets?
•    And repeat the same patterns of behaviour time and time again?
If your answer is yes, then you are not alone – many people ‘procrastinate’, ie put things off until tomorrow.
What often gets in the way of success are habits/patterns that we have been nursing and practicing for years, probably neither consciously nor voluntarily, however, we have been practising them, and we struggle to change our behaviour.

What are your experiences with the patterns described above?

Nicole Bachmann

Nicole Bachmann is a masterful coach and facilitator with a strategic business background and a law degree.

In her longstanding career across the international media and other industries, she has successfully lead and inspired a wide range of people from many different cultures in four different languages.

Nicole is passionate about people performing at their personal best AND having fun every step of the way. She facilitates learning of individuals and groups, as well as training business people in personal development, business communication and leadership skills.

Nicole’s outstanding ability to create a safe environment where people are happy – and even eager – to open up and look at what’s holding them back, allows deep learning to occur. This frees people from old behavioural patterns, and allows them to evolve into the person they want to be, recognising and using all their abilities and skills.

In the Beat Procrastination programmes, Nicole distills her experience and knowledge about helping people to explore the emotional blocks that hold them back AND to overcome them, so they can perform at their personal best.

Nicole is a highly experienced networker, a motivational speaker much in demand, a lecturer at the University of Essex. She is the Founder of Brook & Mann, specialists in Confident Communication for Pro-active Professionals, a co-founder of www.beatprocrastination.com, a Networking Strategist with Magic of Networking, an Executive Associate of Fraser Clarke Corporate Development.

She is a Fellow of the Institute for Independent Business, a Founding Member of the International Association of Coaches, and a proactive member of various networking organisations.

Utterly supportive

‘The Beat Procrastination programme is utterly supportive; the homework projects are creative and revealing.

When I joined this programme I had many projects on the go and there were definite areas that just weren’t happening. Six weeks later I am totally on track, I have a much greater awareness of when feelings are getting in the way and sneaking up on me.

I whole-heartedly recommend this inspirational programme.

Just do it!’ L.M. (Aylesbury)