Procrastination. Oof. I’m sure just reading that word, you’ve thought of something you’ve been putting off doing. I’m sure we all grew up believing it to mean laziness or failure in some way. Thankfully, we’re all becoming more conscious of mental health, and a lot of us have learned to see procrastination differently. It’s hard, but I’ve learned to practise one simple thing when I notice I’m procrastinating: compassion. In this here post, I wanna dive into how I learned to understand my procrastination instead of judge it.
**DISCLAIMER: this is based on my experience and opinions. Please consult mental healthcare professionals for any anxiety or behavioural guidance**
Understanding my procrastination
Like most of us growing up, the stakes of activities raised significantly from “I’ll do the dishes later, mom” (if you have chill parents) to “I’ll write this paper that’s 50% of my grade later” to “I’ll work on that life goal later.” I read somewhere on Pinterest that procrastination is often really perfectionism. Yeah, sure, I may “not feel like” doing something, but I’ve noticed that most of the time, it’s a combination of my anxiety and perfectionism. And when I peel back the layers, it looks like this:
Procrastination –> Anxiety/Perfectionism –> Fear
I’ve noticed this in three areas:
- Communication: avoiding opening messages or updating someone until I’ve made “enough” progress. Most of this avoidance comes from a fear of disappointing the other person.
- General Adulting: making appointments (this is a more literal fear of machinery being used on my teeth)
- Projects: Whew! Let’s discuss.
The fear of not being good enough
Good ol’ imposter syndrome that I wrote about here came for a quick visit during the past week. I released a song recently, and a producer reached out to me on Instagram. He liked my work and wanted to collaborate on a song. I was honoured and excited to work with him, but suddenly thought: “is this out of my league? Am I actually good? Why does he like my voice? Can I even write a song??” etc.
As a result, I overpromised. I put myself under pressure for fear of looking lazy or of him losing interest in working with me. Sure, I was excited, but I was also prepared to over-extend myself to reach a ridiculous deadline that he didn’t even set on the project. And then, when life happened and I couldn’t, in fact, write an entire song in a day and some change, I just avoided messaging him. (Oh, Céline, girl) I was then ashamed, scared of looking like I was making excuses and, when I dug deeper, terrified of writing a mediocre song.
When I actually had some time to write it, I panicked. I feared that I didn’t have the talent or skill to write the song he believed I could. So I just didn’t touch it. I didn’t write a word. I silently freaked out while clicking “next episode” on Scandal.
How I’m Practising Compassion for my Procrastination
1. Seeking Understanding of the deeper fear
When I caught myself with the song situation, I sought to figure out the why. And I realised: I’m not lazy. I’m not bad at writing songs. I’m not slow or inefficient. I’m just scared. I’m just terrified of creating something that isn’t 100% exceptionally perfect. And that is why I’m avoiding it. My fear in this case was not being good enough.
2. Be realistic and upfront about what I can do
I eventually let the person know that I wouldn’t be able to get to it until weekend. It helped alleviate the stress, and also helped me realise how easily I over-promise. Gotta catch myself on that. I know for next time, whether it’s my own goal or a collaboration, to decide on what I can realistically and healthily do and be firm on that.
3. Reminding myself that I can do the thing
I wrote a lot about starting things, accepting that the first draft is really just a damn first draft and NOT THE FINAL, GIRL! But to get myself out of the anxiety/perfectionism spiral, I have to remind myself that the first attempt does not have to be perfect. The first attempt is not all I am capable of. It’s a starting point.
The compassionate approach is so much more effective. Shaming myself into doing things, when it does work, leaves me feeling like I have value only once I start working. The compassionate approach reminds me that I deserve good things as I am, that I deserve to feel good about myself and doing something, even just a little bit, will help me feel better.
There are some great resources out there, like this article, that offer great insights on dealing with procrastination. Do you struggle with procrastination? And how are you dealing with it? Share with us ♥️
Be kind to yourselves 🌻