Zapping Procrastination

This week’s Success Club module focused on overcoming procrastination. While I did the easy physical part of the homework by posting Dana’s Procrastination Zapper questions, I avoided taking small steps to complete the real work of overcoming procrastination.

I procrastinated overcoming procrastination. I couldn’t identify the internal thoughts getting in my way, so I stopped and shut down from doing the real work I needed to do. Dana shared how her whiny toddler voice of “I don’t wanna” tries to block her productivity. All week I tried to identify what gets in the way, but I couldn’t figure out what thoughts continually call me away from prioritization and direct me towards procrastination.

After listening to this week’s coaching call, I found myself in a moment keenly aware that I was procrastinating yet still hyper-focusing on the non-essential task by supplanting what needed to be done right away with an unimportant task. I had given myself two tasks to complete before class began that day. After making copies, I supplanted my second task by re-organizing a bookshelf with student books on it. As I was organizing the shelves, I chuckled to myself totally aware that what I was doing wasn’t a priority. I knew I was avoiding the cumbersome task of data collection and analysis. Later I felt the consequence as I found myself scrambling because I had planned to use the data for instruction.

I kept working on an unimportant task rationalizing that I started the task, so I needed to finish it. Also, I knew I couldn’t look at that shelf like that and that district visitors would be in my room the following week. Rationalizing putting NEXT WEEK before my NEXT CLASS is clearly an example of how I talk myself out of doing what needs to be done by working on something else.

Clearly organizing books on a shelf is a simple unambiguous physical task whereas organizing data for 120+ students in various areas creates anxiety for me, but my students are CLEARLY my priority. Even if I feel like I know what my students need and perhaps even resent documenting everything on a spreadsheet, I know that collecting and organizing the data helps me better meet my students’ needs as well as meet my school’s expectations.

In a moment, I renegotiate my priorities and rationalize my decisions. This is what my former boss called making excuses. While I have learned to not make excuses out loud, the inner voice of rationalization still often misdirects my actions. And that may be the root cause of my procrastination. In all my busyness, I am getting things done, but I am getting the wrong things done.

Renegotiating the blogging task this week, I avoided the work I needed to do in the area of overcoming procrastination. I let myself believe that the words I would write would make me more productive, help me overcome procrastination, and put a positive spin on ADHD. I rationalized. I renegotiated. I regressed.

All this comes at the expense of getting the right things done and leads to inefficiency and busyness. I have a lot of ideas, but I can’t follow them all. I have to direct the right thoughts into action. Today I woke up thinking about how my song probably would not fit the mold of what I’m supposed to be blogging for Dana this week. Still, though, I asked Dana about my blog of the week, “Does it have to be prose?”

Her response was, “Prose, please. The song is great fun, but it was procrastination at its best….Very shiny. Wildly creative. But not what you needed to get done.” Then, she went on to say something about reining in my creativity.

I reined in my creativity today by making Dana’s techniques concrete and visible in working with my nine-year-old daughter to clean her room. Over my daughter’s desk, I wrote the steps for zapping procrastination. She and I talked through the process and filled out a plan on her dry erase board. Then, she got distracted because she wanted to listen to music on my headphones, she wanted to use the Forest app for productivity, and she wanted to try the I don’t wanna voice of procrastination.

After getting the Forest app and putting on some tunes,  together we went through the zapping process from choosing one thing that needed to be done (do something about the clothes), breaking down things into small steps, eliminating distractions, and defining a clear target. As I helped my daughter eliminate procrastination applying the procrastination zapper and developing 5 easy pieces, I was able to see how these simple tools will create clarity in what targets I am setting for myself as I try and develop a clear trajectory to reach my prioritized targets.



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