Pro­cras­ti­na­tor look­ing for mo­ti­va­tion

The Morning Call - - GO GUIDE - By Amy Dickinson

Dear Amy: I love my job and ca­reer. My man­ager is flex­i­ble and kind, my co­work­ers are help­ful and fun to work with, and the work is chal­leng­ing and en­joy­able. It’s what I want to do with my life.

But, when faced with tasks, I some­how lack the mo­ti­va­tion to fin­ish them un­til the last sec­ond. This has been a prob­lem in a lot of ar­eas of my life (mostly house­work and pre­vi­ously, school­work). I don’t have ADHD or de­pres­sion, but I do have some anx­i­ety, and I don’t know if it is re­lated. I am in ther­apy for other things but have yet to hit on a solution.

Some­times, my brain is scream­ing, “Shut that browser win­dow and do the thing they’re pay­ing you to do!” but then I watch my­self NOT do that.

The work gets done and it gets done well and on its due date, but for the days or hours lead­ing up, I am un­able to avoid dis­trac­tion. I can’t find the mo­ti­va­tion.

Is this un­com­mon? I don’t want to sab­o­tage my life or ca­reer. The work gets done, but in the mo­ments where I should be do­ing it, in­stead I’m cruis­ing around on­line, send­ing emails, do­ing un­re­lated re­search — any­thing but the thing it­self. How can I curb this be­hav­ior?

— Happy But Un­mo­ti­vated

Dear Un­mo­ti­vated: I’ll skip over my mini-lec­ture about “time theft” at your work­place and get right to what I think is go­ing on.

I sus­pect that your is­sue is not ac­tu­ally mo­ti­va­tion but pro­cras­ti­na­tion. And yes, your anx­i­ety is both a source and a prod­uct of your pro­cras­ti­na­tion.

First of all, you could con­sider this be­hav­ior as part of your “process.” My house is never cleaner than when I have a dead­line, but dur­ing this time, I find I’m men­tally noodling on the work I have to do.

Here are my per­sonal tips:

Start each day by mak­ing your bed (!), fol­lowed by a bit of out­door ex­er­cise. Keep it sim­ple — walk around the block, un­plugged from your phone.

Get a note­book and black and red pens.

Ca­su­ally break down your day and your larger tasks into a list of small re­minders, us­ing bul­let points in black, with an open cir­cle or square next to each one. When a task is com­pleted, fill in the open space with the red pen. I can­not stress enough the sat­is­fac­tion of col­or­ing in that open square!

Set your­self a loose time­line of things to do be­fore noon, and things to do by 5 p.m., and make sure to in­clude tasks you en­joy.

Set up a re­ward (or bribe) system, such as: “Af­ter I send five work-re­lated emails, I will visit the break room.”

De­lib­er­ately ad­just your fi­nal dead­line to a day ahead of sched­ule. Beat­ing the clock will feel great.

Set aside 30 min­utes every Sun­day to open your work at home and at least look at it. This will help you to kick off your week with less messy angst.

Read­ers will surely want to weigh in.

Copyright 2019 by Amy Dickinson Dis­trib­uted by Tri­bune Con­tent Agency

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