Posts Tagged ‘procrastination’

When It Comes to Procrastination, It’s About Outsmarting Fear

February 29, 2008


One of my favorite tricks is: COMMIT…AND THEN FIGURE IT OUT.

I’m talking about putting a deadline on the calendar. When a person makes a commitment to another person with a date marked on the calendar, it’s amazing how 99% of the time, it gets done.

This is a great trick if you find yourself putting off something out of fear that you really want to do deep down.

Try it next time you’re presented with a vague request to do something that scares you. For instance, if you’re in business for yourself (like I am) and you find yourself getting requests to give public speaking engagements, and if (like me) the thought of giving these presentations makes you weak in the knees, experiment with this: Call the point person at the organization that is requesting your presence and set a date on the calendar — BEFORE you prepare the presentation. Tell them you’ll get back to them with a topic and proposal, but you want to set aside the date well-in-advance to be respectful of them and to be able to plan around it. Once a date is set and you know it’s approaching, you’ll be surprised by how quickly the ideas will flow — DESPITE the fear (The fear itself takes scores of speaking engagements to abate).

This way, rather than the fear eating away at you as you continue to put off picking up the phone to schedule the speaking engagement, now the fear and adrenalin will meet productively as you make preparations for a real, scheduled presentation.

Jump off the cliff, and you’ll find a way to fly!


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THIS WEEK’S ZOOMLETTER: Procrastination Fuels Stress

We’ve all been there — procrastinating out of sheer boredom or repugnance. Take the ultra-common resistance to perform household chores. Most of us can relate to the thoughts: “If I just hadn’t put it off!” or “If I had only done a little tidying up each day, I wouldn’t be faced with the piles of mail or the overflowing hall closet!”

But many times, procrastination springs from something a bit less transparent than simply not wanting to bother. I’m talking about the type of procrastination rooted in FEAR.

With permission, I share a valuable approach to just this type of procrastination, relayed to me by a client. She makes a great case for…

Why procrastination causes us more stress than it’s worth (and what we can do about it):

She writes: “I often put things off that I’m scared to do. Like if I have to make a phone call; or commit to something; or get back to someone; or meet with people. I always try to put it off. The problem is, when I put it off, I’m then spending all that extra time worrying about it. So, procrastinating only feels good for the first day or so (when I feel like there’s still a lot of time until I have to do the scary thing). But, really, I spend the rest of the time worrying.

So, I’ve started experimenting (like we discussed) — committing to things right away and setting up meetings sooner rather than later, even if I’m scared I won’t be prepared. This way, I end up getting whatever it is out of the way, and I have a lot of time left to feel good that IT’S DONE! I know it’s a simple idea, but it’s worked so far.

I’m actually finding that I’m pushing things UP (instead of BACK). What I’ve found is that I have more time to work on things sooner this way, which leaves less crunch time in the end. If I push things up, I can feel more freedom to make mistakes, because there’s more time to correct them. So, I might show my supervisor a crummy draft, but that’s not nearly as scary as if we met further along and I showed her a crummy final draft, because then I’d have no time to make corrections. I find the old saying to be true: The sooner you start, the better. Oftentimes, if you push something off, you end up having only one shot at it. Better to work the kinks out earlier than have it be too late. Plus, it’s a bonus to realize I can handle most things sooner and don’t need the extra time.

Now when I’m nervous about something, I don’t put it off, because that will just leave me more worried about it. The key is it’s better to take action sooner than set your life up constantly worried about what’s coming next.”

This client’s valuable insight is this:
Procrastination that stems from stress & worry ends up FUELING stress & worry. ACTION interrupts this cycle.

I encourage you to try this…Take a moment to consider ONE thing that you’ve put off out of fear, and imagine the stress that could be lifted if you were to look out your “rear-view mirror” at it COMPLETED.

With cheer,


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The Ultimate Packing List

December 18, 2007


Never forget another thing…

  • Do you love to travel, but dread packing?
  • Do you put off packing for as long as possible, only to feel rushed in the end?
  • Do you sometimes have that nagging feeling that you’ve forgotten to pack something important?

Fret no more. Just in time for the holidays and winter getaways, I’m sharing my ultimate, foolproof packing list. In the 20 years I’ve used it, it has never let me down!


Do you know someone who could really use this list? Share it with friends!

(See any items missing? Post a comment here and I’ll share your suggestions in a future posting.)



Distraction is your ticket.

Distraction is one of the best antidotes to fear. The human brain has a hard time focusing on more than one thing at one time, so the best thing you can do is capture your attention elsewhere. By asking your brain to focus on manageable tasks in the present, you make it harder for your brain to generate fear-producing thoughts.

If you feel anxious about flying, try the following quick tricks to make your flight easier:

1) Sleep, if you can.
2) Draw the window shade so you can’t look outside. Ask your neighbors in front and behind you if they’d do the same.
3) Catch up on office work.
4) Do puzzles (crossword puzzles, Sudoku, travel games). Puzzles will hold your attention better than reading, watching movies, or listening to music, but these activities can be helpful, too.
5) Talk with the person next to you. Again, it can be a good distraction, but be respectful.
6) Do the opposite of what your fear compels you to do. If you’re the type to stay glued to your seat with hands clenched, get up and walk around a bit.
7) Do not wait for the fear to hit to begin distracting yourself. If you start to get anxious at home or in the airport terminal, start practicing your distraction techniques early.

Click here for more resources on conquering fears.

In addition to my work as a personal coach, I also work privately with clients as a certified phobia counselor. I am glad to answer questions and share more information about life-changing resources available. Please feel welcome to contact me.

To happy holidays, safe travels, and wonderful adventures!

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