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Breaking the Procrastination Cycle

If you're reading this, you already know that the procrastination cycle can be a major roadblock in your daily life. It's frustrating and overwhelming, and can often lead to negative consequences like missed deadlines and unfinished projects. That's why today we're going to focus on breaking the cycle of procrastination, and how you can start taking small steps to overcome it.

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While executive dysfunction can make it more challenging to manage your time and stay focused, it's important to remember that you have the power to make positive changes. We’ve talked a lot about the importance of mindset. If you believe in yourself, things can change. By understanding the triggers that lead to procrastination and implementing practical strategies, you can start to shift your mindset and make progress toward your goals.

In this article, we'll explore different types of procrastination, common triggers, and practical strategies to break the cycle. Whether you're dealing with procrastination at work, school, or home, I've got you covered.

Breaking the procrastination cycle

Understanding Procrastination

I think we all know what procrastination is. It’s the act of delaying or postponing a task or action that needs to be completed. It’s putting off things you know you need to do. Everyone procrastinates from time to time, but if you have executive dysfunction, this can be a huge issue for you.

There are different types of procrastination, and it's important to understand which type(s) you struggle with in order to address the root cause(s) of your procrastination. Here are a few common types of procrastination:

Perfectionism Procrastination:

This type of procrastination is driven by a fear of failure or a desire for perfection. Women with executive dysfunction may struggle with this type of procrastination because they want to do things perfectly but feel overwhelmed and paralyzed by the thought of starting. Your cycle of procrastination is stressing about getting it right, so you’re afraid to start. When you finally do start at the last minute, if you finish the task, you might not be satisfied because it’s not perfect, thus fulfilling your original fear.

Task-Related Procrastination:

This type of procrastination occurs when you delay a task or action because you find it unpleasant or boring. People with executive dysfunction may struggle with this type of procrastination because they find it difficult to focus on tasks that don't interest them or seem too daunting. This is the type of procrastination most people face. I mean, who really likes to clean the bathroom? Neurotypical people can ultimately force themselves to do these tasks. Executive dysfunction may cause these tasks to get away from you. Your procrastination cycle is putting off the task because it’s boring and then waiting so long to start that it becomes overwhelming. When you’re overwhelmed, you don’t think you can accomplish the task.

Chronic Procrastination:

This type of procrastination is a persistent pattern of delaying tasks, often due to a lack of motivation or an inability to prioritize. If you have task procrastination that snowballs across many tasks, you might be a chronic procrastinator. If you have executive dysfunction, you may struggle with chronic procrastination because you have difficulty with organizing and planning, leading to a feeling of being constantly behind and overwhelmed. Your procrastination cycle truly never ends. You can’t see the point where you will finally be caught up, and it makes you feel defeated.

Creative Procrastination:

This type of procrastination happens when you avoid a task by doing other activities that feel productive, such as cleaning or organizing. In my writing life, I do this all the time. Stuck on a plot point? Procrasti-baking to the rescue. I know authors who procrasti-clean too. Executive dysfunction may cause someone to struggle with this type of procrastination because they have difficulty focusing on the task at hand and may distract themselves with other tasks instead. Your procrastination cycle will exhaust you because you’re always busy but not accomplishing what you need to.

Crisis Procrastination:

This type of procrastination occurs when you delay a task until the last minute, which creates a sense of urgency and pressure to complete the task quickly. I’ve known many women with executive dysfunction who exhibit this type of procrastination. They almost convince themselves that they do it intentionally. They tell themselves they “work best under pressure.” In reality, this happens because they have difficulty with time management and may not realize how long a task will take to complete. They convince themselves this is how they work best because this is what they’ve trained themselves to do. So their procrastination cycle is always to get to the point of urgency.

Decisional Procrastination:

This type of procrastination happens when you delay making a decision, often due to fear of making the wrong choice or feeling overwhelmed by the options. This is often referred to as decision paralysis or analysis paralysis. Executive dysfunction may cause you to struggle with this because decisions can make you feel anxious.

It's important to note that procrastination is not always a sign of laziness or lack of effort. In fact, many (most) of you with executive dysfunction work hard and try your best, but still struggle with procrastination.

By understanding the different types of procrastination and how they may affect you, you can start to identify the root causes of your procrastination and work towards overcoming it. In the next section, we'll explore how to identify your personal triggers and develop strategies to break the cycle of procrastination.

Start small...but start soon

Identifying Your Triggers

Procrastination can be triggered by a variety of factors, and it's important to identify your personal triggers in order to develop strategies to overcome them. Here are some common triggers that lead to procrastination:

Overwhelm –

Feeling overwhelmed by a task or project can lead to procrastination, especially if you don't know where to start, can make you feel like you have too much on your plate.

Lack of Clarity –

If you're unclear about what's expected of you, or what steps you need to take to complete a task, it can be difficult to get started.

Fear of Failure –

The fear of not doing something perfectly, or not meeting your own or others' expectations, can make you freeze.

Distractions –

Getting distracted by social media, emails, or other tasks can derail your focus and lead to procrastination.

Lack of Motivation –

If you're not motivated to complete a task, it can be challenging to get started and stay on track.

To identify your personal triggers, it's important to reflect on your own procrastination patterns. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What tasks or projects do you tend to put off the most?
  • When do you find yourself procrastinating the most? Is it at a certain time of day or in certain situations?
  • What feelings do you experience when you're procrastinating? Do you feel anxious, overwhelmed, or bored?
  • What distractions do you find yourself turning to when you're procrastinating?

Once you've identified your triggers, you can start to develop strategies to overcome them. Here are some examples:

  • If you're feeling overwhelmed, break the task down into smaller, more manageable steps.
  • If you're lacking clarity, ask for more information or create a checklist of what needs to be done.
  • If you're afraid of failure, remind yourself that perfectionism isn't necessary and that mistakes are a normal part of the learning process.
  • If you're getting distracted, try using a timer or app to block distractions or create a designated workspace.
  • If you're lacking motivation, try setting a clear goal or reward for completing the task.

By identifying your triggers and developing strategies to overcome them, you can break the cycle of procrastination and achieve your goals more effectively.

Want to learn some more tips and strategies for executive functioning? Check out my free course.

Strategies to Break the Cycle

Overcoming procrastination is possible with the right strategies and mindset. Small changes can also lead to big results when it comes to overcoming procrastination. Here are some practical tips to get started:

  1. Start small – Set a goal to work on a task for just 10 or 15 minutes at a time, and gradually increase the amount of time as you build momentum.
  2. Use positive affirmations – Affirmations such as “I am capable of getting this done” or “I am making progress” can help you stay motivated and focused.
  3. Celebrate progress – Instead of focusing solely on the end result, celebrate the progress you make along the way. This can help you stay motivated and build momentum.
  4. Start with one task – Choose one task that you've been putting off and commit to working on it for just 10 or 15 minutes at a time. Starting with a small, manageable task can help build momentum and increase your motivation.
  5. Use a timer – Set a timer for the amount of time you plan to work on the task, and focus solely on that task during that time. This can help you stay focused and avoid distractions.
  6. Reward yourself – After completing a task, reward yourself with something you enjoy, such as a favorite snack or activity. This can help reinforce positive behavior and motivate you to continue making progress.

Overcoming procrastination takes time and effort. But by implementing these strategies and making small changes, you can break the cycle of procrastination and achieve your goals.

Procrastination is a common struggle, but it doesn't have to control your life. By understanding the different types of procrastination, identifying your triggers, and implementing effective strategies, you can break the cycle of procrastination and achieve your goals more effectively.

Remember, overcoming procrastination is a journey, and it's important to be patient and kind to yourself along the way. Small changes and consistent effort can lead to big results over time, and the more you practice breaking the cycle of procrastination, the easier it will become.

So if you're someone who struggles with procrastination, know that you're not alone. With the right mindset and tools, you can overcome procrastination and achieve your goals with confidence and clarity.

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