As the year closes, we often set aside time to create new habits and goals for the new year....and then procrastination sets in. In typical times we might create a to-do list, set a reminder in our phones or have someone help keep us accountable. However, 2020 has disrupted our typical support network and systems. And if we are honest with ourselves, it has also interrupted our basic ambition to just get it done with! When each day blends into the next, when the world feels as unruly as a three-year-old running around a candy store, well, a part of us just gives up.
And maybe we should let go of a lot of things we did pre-Covid. The incessant running around, filling every moment with activities, having unrealistic expectations of everything and everyone. For many, social media has definitely taken the place of in-person relationships. While definitely safer, social media hides a terrible secret – each time we click, like, scroll, we are feeding that part of our brain that craves short, immediate rewards. In fact, the thing that often gets in the way of getting started on long-term or difficult tasks. In other words, it makes procrastination WAY easier to do!
I know you are thinking “great, but how do we combat that when we need to stay socially distant?” and “lovely, but I still need to work while my kids are in virtual school.” Leo Babauta, the founder Zen Habits, offers a path forward in our journey towards ending procrastinating. Let’s start by deciding one important task you or your family would like to accomplish this day. It might be short-term or long-term – take a long walk, cook dinner together, start that science project due next week. Write it down and place it where you will see it throughout the day.
Now break that task down into infinitesimally small bite-size tasks. That science project weighing on you? Come up with the title, pick out the font you want to write in…pretty much any tiny, little thing you can do to break that huge, daunting beast into manageable bits.
The next piece is the real trick…make a concerted effort to not check social media, watch TV or check the email again. Instead, take a moment to pause and assess what the thought or feeling is coming up, then resume working on your task.
Most habits take 21 days to become set in, so your job is to keep pushing through and getting excited for all the small victories. Notice those intrusive thoughts that come in – “I should be able to do this,” “There must be something wrong with me.” These negative beliefs hold you back from your goal – so don’t listen to them!
If you made it this far into a blog on procrastination, you might have wondered what that has to do with the mission of Professionals United for Parkland…unfortunately we dawdle, delay and array rationale reasons between us and seeking help. In other words, we procrastinate seeking support for issues that intrude on our mental health and wellbeing. In 2018, our community was rocked by personal and communal tragedy and again in 2019 and again now with a world-wide, catastrophe. The Columbia University study on childhood grief & loss spearheaded by Dr. William Worden found we can “manage” our grief and loss without support and healing. However, one year and more pronounced at the two years, our bereavement will shift into mental health issues that will quickly overwhelm our resources. Professionals United for Parkland was founded to help address the long-term effects of communal trauma. Help is available – please reach out today.