Guest Blog: “The Procrastinators Anonymous Meeting has been cancelled” with Lindsay Taylor

This week, I am delighted to share a Guest blog post by Lindsay Taylor, award-winning Author, Coach, Trainer and Director at Your Excellency Limitedthe topic covered by Lindsay affects VAs, PAs, EAs and in all honesty all of us at some time or other!

“The Procrastinators Anonymous Meeting has been cancelled”

Guest Blog by Lindsay TaylorHello everyone!  If you’re reading the title of this blog post and smirking to yourself, then I do believe I’m in great company…

You see, I have been procrastinating about writing this blog post for Ages (believe me, it warrants a capital “A” as it’s been such a long time).   I’ve been putting it off and doing other stuff and being really indecisive about a topic I can write about… until that is, I had this light bulb moment.  I could write a blog post about procrastination and share all the stuff I know about it  All the stuff and theory that, obviously, I’m not putting into practice!! [Clears throat and looks sheepish].   So here goes…

What is Procrastination?

According to “procrastination” is

“The act or habit of procrastinating, or putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention”

Humans have been procrastinating for Ages (again, this warrants a capital “A” as it’s been such a long time!).  Ancient Greek philosophers Socrates and Aristotle use the term “akrasia” to describe human behaviour when you do one thing even though you know you should be do something else.   

What are the reasons we procrastinate?

Time Inconsistency
Human nature is such that we favour immediate rewards over future rewards.  This means there is a time inconsistency that leaves the door well and truly open to procrastination.  

When we set ourselves goals and outcomes we are imagining what it will be like for us when we have achieved that goal in the future.  This satisfies our “future self” which absolutely values long-term rewards.  However (and here lies the challenge), only our “present self” can make a decision and take the action for our “future self”.   And our “present self” favours instant gratification rather than a reward that’s way off in the distant… (still with me?).  

The good news is there are things we can do.  Right now.  In the present.  Here are some of my favourites:

1.   Bring forward the negative impact of procrastination

So, I’m procrastinating about working out and visiting the gym.  I have no excuse as a third of our “home office” is kitted out with gym equipment.  I jokingly say to people that “I’ve been to the gym today” very quickly followed up with “…to dust down the treadmill and exercise bike!!”.  I know that the negative impact of not visiting the gym is a strained waistband… but my future self is overshadowed by my present self of course. 

By putting the “Bring Forward” strategy into practice and inviting my lovely friend Janine to join me in a regular weekly workout in the gym, I would be much more likely to stick to this regime, rather than letting her down.  I’ve brought forward a negative impact of this procrastination. 

2.   Temptation Bundling 

This is attributed to Katy Milkman at The University of Pennsylvania. The strategy shares that “bundling” a behaviour that feels good in the short-term (or present) with a behaviour that is good for you in the long-run (or future) will stave off procrastination. When I first learned this strategy I realised I was already putting this in to practice.  Every Sunday evening when I do my weekly ironing I make sure I have a glass of chilled Marlborough to get me through the “chore”!

3.   The 10-Minute Rule 

This is one of my favourite strategies as it’s really easy to put into practice – and it works!

This strategy acknowledges that getting started on a task is usually the toughest bit.  Tell yourself that you are going to work on a task for 10 minutes (set an alarm bell on your phone….) then when 10 minutes are up you will then decide whether to keep going.  More often than not, once you’ve got that initial inertia going you’ll carry on with the task beyond the 10 minutes….give it a go!

About the Author:

Lindsay TaylorLindsay Taylor is Director of Your Excellency Limited, an executive training and coaching organisation in the UK. Renowned for her fun, interactive sessions, Lindsay specialises in supporting the PA and Administrative Professional.  She is a former PA herself and understands the diversity of the role and the inevitable challenges faced by the profession.  Lindsay is the award-winning author of “A-Z Pearls of Wisdom for Executive PAs”.   

Your Excellency Limited have been in business for 11 years and are immensely proud of their portfolio of learning and development opportunities. As a preferred training provider for The IAM (Institute of Administrative Management) Your Excellency offer accredited training and qualifications to support the Administrative Professional. A Menu of Learningis available to download from the website. 

Make sure you mention this blog post and VACT when you make contact with Lindsay  She would be delighted to support your learning and development needs and believes there should be no procrastinating over your own personal and professional development.

You can find Lindsay on Social Media by clicking the appropriate links: