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Procrastination (the art of avoiding the must do tasks)

25 January, 2020

You may remember that when we had the Pain and Relaxation classes at the studio, I started to produce some Nuggets of information for our clients (the Nuggets name dutifully ripped of from the magnificent Lorimer Moseley and Dave Butler of Explain Pain fame). It started as short one page handouts about persistent pain management and then progressed to other concepts that are often closely tied in with pain such as anxiety and then morphed into anything we could think of. My physios were tasked with brainstorming ideas for these little knowledge bombs and then I would run with the word they conjured up or if they had a gap in their patient list, they would do some research and give me their ‘one pager’.

Yesterday I asked Jose, my secretary, to load them all up onto my computer, so I can have them close at my fingertips to draw on as I need.

Today so far, I have had breakky, looked at Facebook, cleaned my teeth, looked at Instagram, got dressed, scrolled through Twitter, got my computer out of it’s bag, turned on the tennis……… and then I suddenly remembered the Nugget about Procrastination. You see this weekend has been earmarked for a big sorting and solving weekend with a project I am working on (CFA National Conference on Incontinence 2020 or #NCOI20 – health professionals please earmark the 18th-21st November in Brisbane as we have some exciting speakers) and instead I found myself time-wasting BIG TIME. I find if I commit to a blog and write it, then I am often more productive for the rest of the day. I get my head-space cleared and focused and then can get on with the real work.

I also wrote it all those years ago because patients have been known to suffer #extremeprocrastination when facing up to their pelvic floor exercises or their pelvic stretch exercises or their belly breathing practise or any of the other strategies that their pelvic health physio may have given them and this time wasting or downright ignoring of their homework, acts as a barrier to their progress with their pelvic health issue.

So after you have read this blog, put down your phone and get out your notes and handouts and revisit the Essentials of good pelvic health. Anything in the section below not in italics has been added by myself.

Procrastination

(Sourced directly from https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/procrastination. Written by Psychology Today)

Everyone procrastinates sometimes, but 20 percent of people chronically avoid difficult tasks and deliberately look for distractions which are unfortunately increasingly available with phones and computers. Procrastination is related to self-control with “I don’t feel like it” taking precedence over goals. This then leads to negative emotions that deter future effort.

Procrastinators may say they perform better under pressure, but often than not, that’s their way of justifying putting things off. It is possible to overcome procrastination but requires effort. Perfectionists are often procrastinators; it is psychologically more acceptable to never tackle a task than to face the possibility of failure.

Time Pressure and a “Scarcity” Mindset

Too many demands on your time can lead to a ‘scarcity mindset’ in which you are chronically busy. Often exercise and healthy eating suffer, your house is disorganized and you neglect relationships.

Take Control of Your Time

Being more intentional with managing your time can help with greater life satisfaction, you feel less overloaded and have less day-to-day tension.

Below are some useful things you can do to take control of your time:

  1. Set priorities: Take time for goal setting. Prioritize and record them. Examine relationships, work, finances, health and particularly work-life balance. Planning your time and commitments accordingly.
  2.  Be realistic about what you can accomplish It is better to achieve the goals you set, than to feel that you’ve failed, so start with lower expectations and then build as you get better at time management. Take your initial estimate of how long it will take you to get a task done and then increase it by at least 25 percent to begin with. See how well this works and adjust it up or down as needed. This is particularly important when looking at the solutions your pelvic health physio has suggested to you. There may be multiple (often overwhelming) ideas she/he has provided to you and so just choose one or two to focus on and perfect them and then move to the next one. You have the rest of your life to solve these issues that you have lived with for years (often).
  3. Limit interruptions: Limiting how often you get interrupted is key to getting things done. Stop notifications, texts or emails from showing up on your screen or pinging – a trick my children taught me is to turn the phone onto aeroplane mode. Instead allocate some time every hour or two hours to look at them; close the door of your office; work when the kids are asleep during the day or once they’ve gone to bed at night- generally remove distractions. Remember to also get up and change position and move regularly
  4. Learn to say no: Setting boundaries with others is an important part of managing your time and limiting excessive stress. This is easier said than done, but often is the problem.  
  5. Stop procrastinating: Work out what may be causing you to procrastinate. Is the task boring? Automate boring tasks, add music, make lists and tick them off (I love doing this – sometimes when I have made a list and then do a task that wasn’t even on the list, I add it to give myself the satisfaction of having another tick on the page (insert open eye aghast emoji, add smiley face emoji – I need to find out how to get emoji’s on my computer as I obviously rely on them big time!)
  6. Do you not know what to do? Research, ask for help. Are you easily being distracted? Minimize distractions (see above)
  7. If you don’t think you can do a good job, evaluate whether this belief is true. The belief that you can’t succeed may be just a symptom of lack of confidence. Imposter syndrome is rife in many people these days. Imposter syndrome is defined as the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills. You can be so judged these days – not just in the public sphere of the internet – but also by where your political beliefs lie; where you were educated; what your body shape is like; your social justice values that you feel strongly about and so on. As I get older, I am letting go of my profound imposter syndrome and just hoping that I make the most of my next period of life – old age. I have lots of life-experience from treating and talking to literally thousands and thousands of patients and I am determined to just use this incredible thing we humans have created called the internet to: pass on information (hopefully all evidence based); to comment on inequality and injustice; to spread some laughter because there’s some very funny stuff on the internet; but most importantly not listen to my inner doubts or other chemical reactions called thoughts (and particularly thought viruses).

Now to get on with the Scientific Programme!

PS. Governments and citizens alike are procrastinating on #climatechange

 

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