Procrastination is defined as putting off until another time, what we could do today.
When we put things off and push them into the back of our minds and onto our ‘TO DO’ list for tomorrow (or the next day, week, or month), we are actually hoisting those ‘TO DOs’ onto our backs and weighing ourselves down. We then carry them, along with everything else we’ve put off, and everything we have to do today. It is harder to do your job while wearing a heavy backpack filled with procrastination citations. It is more difficult to write your report, lift your child, or drive your car. Your back and shoulders begin to slump forward and you start to look as tired and overwhelmed as you feel. You have your reasons for putting things off, but look at them…are they reasons or excuses?
Below is a list of excuses I’ve heard (and I’ve used some of them myself),
- Think about something you are putting off…and examine the list, are your excuses there?
- I’m too tired.
- I don’t want to do it.
- I don’t know where to put the stuff (no room).
- I don’t want to look at it.
- I’m not in the mood.
- It seems depressing.
- I don’t care about it (… but I do – I don’t like them sitting there).
- I don’t want to spend the time on it
- I don’t want to waste time
- My work (doing laundry or whatever)
- It’ll still be there.
- I deserve a break after working so hard all the time
- Where should I start, it’s the whole house?
- It’s never ending.
In procrastination, we are stuck in avoidance with our own delay tactics.
We are stuck-in-the-muck.
We are not free.
In Eastern Medicine, as well as in Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and Energy Medicine, it is believed that negative emotions and the negative behaviors that accompany them are due to disruptions in the body’s energy systems. Our energies may be blocked, stagnant, slow moving (sludgy) or even too quick and erratic. When our energies are flowing normally, we move through our lives with less difficulty. We feel good. We feel content. We feel like we are living our own lives and that Life is Good. We are not stuck.
EFT is sometimes called “Emotional Acupressure” and it can help you with moving through procrastination. Typically, procrastination has an underlying emotion. If our excuse is “It seems depressing” or “I’m not in the mood”, perhaps we are depressed. If we say “it’s overwhelming”, perhaps we are feeling overwhelmed with other events in our lives. If we say “I don’t want to look at it”, perhaps there are other things in our lives we don’t want to look at or acknowledge. There is more to procrastination than meets the eye – there is an underlying discomfort. We are avoiding more than the activity, we are avoiding the emotions and the other people, experiences, or interactions in our lives that we don’t want to see, confront, or experience.
While it is often desirable to work with an EFT practitioner as they will ask pertinent questions that help you discover the relationships between procrastination and other emotional aspects in your life, you can also work on this for yourself. Here is how to do it.
- Identify the Problem. Be as specific as you can. Perhaps pick one small item that you are procrastinating about. For example, instead of say I need to stop putting off unpacking all 20 boxes I have collected since my move, you might picture one box and say I need to unpack this one box.
- Typically, when you think of something you are procrastinating about, you will feel it in your body. Perhaps you’ll feel tension in your neck, tightness in your jaw or heaviness in your belly. Notice the physical sensations you feel when you think of this one box. Jot it down.
- Then, tap on the side of one hand, below the little finger on what is known as the ‘karate chop point’. Use the fingers of your other hand to do the tapping. Develop a phrase for yourself, perhaps paraphrasing from the words below:
- Even though I’ve not unpacked the blue box (describing the exact box you want to unpack), I deeply and completely accept myself. Say this, while tapping the side of your hand, three times. If you can’t quite say the last phrase, perhaps you can say I’m ok or That’s the way it is right now.
- Now, tap on the locations shown below, at each site saying a keyword or phrase, such as unpack, box, or putting it off. Do two to three rounds of tapping on these points. Note any thoughts that come up, especially emotions.
- After the final round, tap the inside, karate chop point again as you:
- Notice whether you still feel the same sensations in your body that you described in 2) above. You’ll probably notice the sensations are not as intense.
- Ask yourself some questions, such as what else am I putting off in my life? or Is putting this off really helping me or is it prolonging negative feelings?
- Using the same phrase or perhaps create a new phrase such as Even though I still feel some tension, it is less, and I deeply and completely accept myself. Say it three times while tapping on the side of your hand, then repeat 3) b (above).
- Repeat 4) a and b. Decide if you want to do another full round or two. Do so, if you feel you want to deepen the experience.
During this process you may find that you identify other things you’ve put off that have an emotional content, such as talking with/confronting someone you are having difficulty with or speaking up when you have an idea. Interestingly, these other items, with more emotional content, can block your energies for doing other chores, such as unpacking boxes! Identifying them can begin to release you from procrastination!
You may notice you don’t feel as ‘uptight’ about it after a ‘round’ or two. Even that is a move forward! You have been balancing your energies, while you are focused on a difficult area of procrastination. In all likelihood, you will feel better and you will find yourself tackling the procrastination station that was there!
Be patient with yourself. This may be a life-long or long-term procrastination habit (procrastination habituation). It may take doing this practice a number of times to totally break the habit, but note your progress, no matter how ‘small’ it seems to you.
Let me know if you make progress on tackling whatever you’ve been procrastinating about!
If this doesn’t help, perhaps you want to try a one-on-one in-person or on-line (ZOOM or SKYPE) session with an EFT professional. Either way, I’m looking forward to hearing from you!