I had a bad case of procrastination going on these last two months. A simple chore, that I normally like: sending invoices. I had no idea why this suddenly was in my procrastination zone. But it was.
Naturally, I felt incredibly stupid. A procrastination coach who procrastinates… I even managed to not try out any of my own techniques. (Which makes sense, in a way, because I knew they would have worked 🙂 )
The one I avoided the most, was the freeze technique. It’s simple and incredibly effective – if you are willing to have the discipline to do it. Willing indeed. For you need willpower for this. So if you feel you have no willpower today, don’t read any further, it will be countereffective.
Here we go, for whoever is willing to give it a try… The freeze technique!
1) You notice you’re procrastinating
Think about that for a moment: How will you notice you’re procrastinating? What do you need to be aware of it? Do you need to have goals, a planning, a moment of rest? Make sure to create whatever it takes that helps you become aware.
2) You freeze
You stop doing what you’re doing. If you’re on a computer/tablet/smartphone, look away. When you’re cleaning, stop cleaning. If it’s the television, switch it off. Whatever it is that you’re doing, it functions as an enabler. The activity enables your procrastination.
3) Stay frozen
This is the hardest part. The really hard part. You keep doing nothing. Nothing at all. Your mind is allowed to wander to the thing you’re avoiding, but not to other places. Because if you sit there thinking about something else, you’re enabling the procrastination again…
Observe what happens in your body and in your mind. Probably it will be lots, so you don’t have to be bored. Your body might want to get back to the activity, longing for action. It may cringe because your freeze brings the procrastination thing closer. It may get tense, it may relax, get warm or cold. Anything can happen. Be aware and let it be, there’s no need to change anything. The same goes for the thoughts in your head. Observe, be gentle, and redirect your thoughts when they wander off in far distances, in judgement, or anything that is an escape from just sitting there, thinking about what you’re avoiding.
After a while you will have all the information you need to make a decision. There are three basic options:
a) Start doing what you were procrastinating on. You may need some extra tricks to get there, for example promise yourself you will only work on it for 3 minutes, or you will only do the smallest possible task. By any means necessary, you START.
b) You figured out you need something serious to take the next step. Somebody to help you, accountability, or maybe some work on the blockages you have around the subject. Procrastination is often fear based, and then productivity tricks or exercises are seldom helpful. They do not touch the root of things. Don’t feel bad about yourself when this happens, it’s just the way it goes. With lots of people, actually. Your next step is to ask yourself: what do I need?
Don’t forget: Create the help you need. Watch out for endless searches for articles on procrastination though, then you’re procrastinating again and need to do the freeze thing again.
c) Continue procrastinating, but as a choice instead of an automatism. Sometimes procrastination has a point, really. You’re tired and you need some rest. You want to make a decision but it needs some simmering. You were procrastinating by doing something else that really needs to be done, and you prefer to finish it. Etcetera. You may want to make yourself a promise though, about when to pick up the thing you’re procrastinating on. Deadlines help.
Are you willing to try out this technique? For a day? A week? A bit longer? I’m incredibly curious about your results, so if you like, send an e-mail or post a comment here. The comment button is at the top of the page.
And now I need to use this technique myself. For writing this blogpost was totally a form of procrastination. But one I chose 😉