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Overcoming Procrastination by Replacing it with Helpful Phrases

Tuesday June 12, 2018

In my experience, “procrastination” is almost always a poor word to use in describing a productivity problem.

For one, it’s a word that many of us fear, and for good reason. We worry that it says something “about us” and our worth or potential.

Plus, once we say the word, it reinforces feelings of failure, lowering energy levels and potentially putting goals in jeopardy. Perhaps our estimation of our skill level goes down, and with it, moods will tend to drop as well.

And finally, the word itself doesn’t suggest any helpful solutions. It’d be different if the word we used instead of procrastinating was “no-energy-ing” or something that suggested a problem that we already know how to solve.

So, to help with these problems, I’ve listed more than 20 different replacement phrases below. These phrases can you help diagnose actual problems and otherwise provide some problem-solving energy.

To use the phrases, start writing or talking about your procrastinated activity, and replace the word “procrastination” with one or more of the phrases below.

As an advanced exercise, you could work your way through all of the phrases, writing about how the phrase applies or does not apply to the current problem.

General Phrases:

  • “There’s been delayed activity on project X.” (If this sounds generic, please reflect how extra-generic the word “procrastination” must be)
  • “There’s an inappropriate-timing issue with activity X.”
  • “There’s no clear point of leverage at our current stopping point on activity X.”
  • “There’s no existing breakdown of activity X that would help me identify problem points and non-problem points.”
  • “We are lacking a breakdown of activity X into its more easily-handled components or parts.”

Metaphorical Phrases:

  • “There are some missing pieces relating to the resolution of activity X”
  • “Some of the mapped trail has disappeared en route to the summit of X Mountain!”
  • “An insurmountable, scary monolith has appeared along my journey toward X.”
  • “Activity X is now a labyrinth, and I am unable to make myself continue after turning the first few corners.*
  • “The symbolic image that comes to mind when I think about activity X is…”

(Note: You may find it helpful to solve these metaphorically first—for example, name some things you could you do if stuck inside a labyrinth)

Externally-oriented Phrases:

  • “We’re getting no outside help on activity X.”
  • “There’s instruction booklet to tell me what to do at this juncture on activity X.”
  • “Circumstances aren’t right to finish activity X right now.”
  • “Activity X cannot be completed in this kind of environment.”
  • “I need to know what people do when confronted by what feels like an insurmountable pause in completing an activity like X.”

Internally-oriented Phrases:

  • “I lack the psychological energy to do what it takes to finish activity X.”
  • “I am inefficient in my thinking and acting toward activity X.”
  • “I am not interested in finishing activity X.”
  • “I really don’t feel like finishing activity X right now.”
  • “I doubt I’ll ever feel like finishing activity X—it’s not really ‘me’.”
  • “I’m in some kind of repeating pattern that always happens with activities like X.”
  • “Activity X requires skills I would like to think I have, but don’t really have lots of patience for (example: Sorting lots of details).”

Note: It can sometimes help to use the external questions to follow up on internal questions, and vice-versa.

If one of these phrases seems to help you, immediately pursue that line of thinking and feel free to abandon the other phrases, or come back later as needed.

If none of these phrases seems to help you, and if other frameworks don’t seem to help either, you may wish to consult your intuition on the matter or otherwise try to figure out if your less-conscious psychology knows something about the situation that hasn’t become clear yet.

Filed in: Ti /29/ | Productivity /119/ | Openness /49/ | Goals /52/ | Procrastination /23/

Own your procrastination with Whole Productivity, a new system → Get my free INTJ COVID-19 Guide → Explore your gifts with my INTJ Workbook → Other Publications → ...and the fake word of the hour: "Barskimor." I think this is related to fast food.

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