You have a task with a deadline. But, instead of doing it immediately, you postpone it until later. And then, before you know, you only have a few hours before the deadline. So, you rush to do the task, aware of the ticking clock above your head. Sounds familiar? The term for this is procrastination and it’s something that most people have experienced. There are many reasons why we procrastinate, but it’s best to not fall in the “I’ll do it later” trap. Here’s how you can overcome procrastination with mindfulness.
Procrastination and Mindfulness
At its very core, procrastination is an emotion management problem. Consciously or unconsciously, you feel negative emotions such as anxiety, boredom, frustration, etc. towards a task. Because you feel uncomfortable, you tend to do something else that feels better, until you have no choice but to do it.
You have to remember to not let your emotions dictate you. You control your feelings and not the other way around. The key to overcoming procrastination is not removing the negative emotions, its to act in spite of them. This is where mindfulness (and emotional intelligence) comes in.
Mindfulness, by definition, is the ability to be fully present, aware of where you are and what you’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around you.
How can you overcome procrastination with mindfulness?
When you’re given a task, instead of being “reactive” to it, mindfulness allows you to take a step back, watch your thoughts and emotions from a distance, and lets you experience the negative emotions that lead you to procrastinate without being overwhelmed by them.
Mindfulness allows you to do the task despite the negative emotions you feel for it. First, you become aware. You become conscious of your feelings’ role in your decisions, behavior, and performance. And thus, you can manage those influences better. Second, it lets you stay with negative emotions without reacting to them. This gives you the opportunity to do the right thing—in this case, doing the task right away instead of postponing it for later—regardless of what you’re feeling.
Mindfulness is definitely a powerful tool. Aside from overcoming procrastination, it has a lot of other benefits, including improving your leadership. The good news is that it’s available to you every moment. You just have to practice it.