Everyone is afflicted with the specter of procrastination from time to time. After all, it’s a whole lot easier not to do something you need to do than actually to do it, right? This leads to a vicious cycle of panic, as we realize we need to do something but are panicked if we can do it, so we don’t. And on and on it goes until we’re a frenzied mess, and nothing gets done.

Whew!

But what if we changed our perspective on procrastination?  What if we made it work for us instead of against us?

#1 – Don’t Fight It, Embrace It

End the cycle of panic.  Instead of playing a tug-of-war between procrastination and productivity, let procrastination win.  Let your mind relax.  Allow yourself to binge that series you’ve wanted to watch, read a long novel you’ve wanted to get to, or just veg on the couch playing games on your phone.  

Clearly, there must be something about the task at hand that causes you to panic and procrastinate, so set it aside, let yourself destress, and let your mind take a vacation.   

Giving your mind a break may help you figure out the pieces of the puzzle you need to cobble together to complete the project that you’re so eager to avoid.  Giving your brain time to solve a difficult problem subconsciously can be the perfect cure for procrastination.

#2 – Do Something Else Productive

Don’t want to lay around and do nothing?  Work on another project.  It can be adjacent to the one you’re avoiding, or it can be one entirely different.  Again, you’re getting away from the stressful problem you want to avoid by working on things that won’t stress you similarly.

Much like embracing procrastination, this is another way to keep your mind active while your subconscious works through the problem.  If you are working on a similar project, you may find the solution in that project that helps you break the procrastination spell.

#3 – Baby Steps, Baby Steps

Looking at the big picture for a project can be daunting and lead to feelings of avoidance, which in turn causes procrastination.  

But that big project has lots of smaller tasks and steps you can focus on that lead you to the final product once they’re completed.  Break down the project into smaller bite-size pieces that allow you to focus on each tree instead of the whole forest.  

You can even make a list of tasks and sub-tasks that can be completed independently, slowly getting you to the end of the project but not making you want to run away, hide in a cave, or avoid the whole thing.

#4 – Walk Away, Move On

Worst case, last resort, waving the white flag scenario: you give up and walk away. This can be a liberating experience, but you really need to think through it and ask yourself if this project is worth abandoning and leaving unfinished.

Sometimes, walking away for a period of time can help you find clarity and perspective, which will allow you to return to the project in the future without fear and anxiety.  

Leaving a project incomplete is okay if you plan to work on other things and stay productive in other ways. Allowing yourself the freedom to break free from a project you keep avoiding also frees you to do what you want to do.

NOTE: This applies to personal creative projects. I wouldn’t recommend walking away from projects at work or school. Your bosses or professors may take issue with you not completing them.

Final Thoughts

We all suffer from bouts of procrastination that leave us feeling unproductive, frustrated and panicked.  But if we welcome it with open arms and allow it to take over, move to another project, break a big project into smaller tasks, or even walk away, we can harness the power of procrastination and release its full unconscious potential.

Happy Procrastinating, and I’ll see you next time!

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