Mom First: Less Stress, More Joy for Working Moms

40: How to Stop Procrastinating on Your To Do List--Without Beating Yourself Up

July 28, 2022 Jen Larimore
Mom First: Less Stress, More Joy for Working Moms
40: How to Stop Procrastinating on Your To Do List--Without Beating Yourself Up
Show Notes Transcript

Is your To Do list packed with items that you just aren't doing? 

Stop avoiding, stop procrastinating, and stop beating yourself up. 

On this episode, I share with you a special productivity hack, called the "I'll do" list. Its a way to help you unlearn procrastination and start checking off those items that have been on your to do list for ages. 

On this episode, learn: 

  • how procrastination and avoidance are actually the result of your strengths
  • the STRENGTHS of those folks who procrastinate and avoid things regularly
  • why to stop procrastination and avoiding your to do list
  • and the productivity hack, "I'll do" list


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Can you relate to this? You have a mile long to do list, with things that you know that you need to get done–the laundry, cleaning out the car, some home repairs, going to the doctor, making the kids’ dentist appointments. Maybe you even have some harder topics on your mind. Things you know you should do, but have been avoiding–finishing up a project at work, having that tough conversation with a colleague at work, providing some critical feedback to your supervisor, declining that invite from an extended family member, and setting some boundaries with a friend.


You have all of these things that need to get done. And maybe you even want to get them done. And yet they do  not get done. 


Day after day after day, goes by. You try to focus. You try to rally. You try to willpower your way through getting it all done. You bully yourself, telling yourself that your lazy if you don’t do this–anything to try to make yourself move forward on all these to dos. . Maybe you get a little done here or there. Maybe you even complete some of them. But you just can’t stay on top of it. 


What if I told you there is a better way? A way that is gentler. A way that is kinder. A way, where you ultimately, will get more done. That’s what I’m sharing with you today! If you’ve ever struggled with procrastination, this episode is for you. Let’s go! 



INTRO


What are you procrastinating on, right now? 


Here’s my list: 

  • Folding the laundry. 
  • Sorting the socks (no one at our house likes ot sort the socks)
  • Ordering new shelves for the door of the fridge (its been a year, at least)
  • Organizing our storage area in the basement
  • Sending some thank you letters
  • Tracking our budget
  • Going for a run (I told myself I would do that today and didnt do it)
  • And finally, having a difficult conversation with a colleague. 


Can you relate? 


To some extent, we all procrastinate. We all avoid certain tasks or conversations or events. Things we know we should do. But just don’t want to. 


If you find that you are someone who procrastinates a lot, guess what, I actually have some good news for you. 


You probably are someone who is highly flexible, adaptable and actually, really easy to get along with. Usually the reason that people regularly avoid certain things–isn’t because they are lazy or don’t want to work hard–but rather because they are often focused on maintianing peace and harmony–both within themselves and with their relationships with others. 


This is a good thing! Right now the world needs people who are able to get along and play well with others! Folks who are flexible and adaptable are often easy to work with. They make great colleagues and friends. They are often supportive and very sociable, even tempered. Easy to work with and get along with. Their relationships are often harmonious because they value that so. Creating and maintaining that peace and harmony and positivity is a strength of theirs. And they often bring a lot of positivity to situations and are viewed as nonjudgmental by their peers. These are incredible strengths. 


When these strengths are overused though, it turns into procrastination and avoidance. 


That means, instead of wrapping up a project, you don’t get it done. It means you take on more than you can handle, because you don’t want to tell anyone know. It means you avoid difficult–but necessary–conversations with friends, family, or colleagues. You tend to see a problem, but think, oh, that doesn’t sound like fun, maybe it’ll resolve itself. If its not a burning issue right now you think, it can wait, maybe it won’t matter tomorrow. 


It means that the everyday tasks that would make our lives easier, like doing the laundry, fixing the dishwasher, getting that project done at work… are all avoided. You might think. I can do that later, because I’d rather do something else now. This isn’t that important. It will probably resolve itself if I just leave it. For instance, in my household, I sometimes hear, why do we need to fold and put away laundry if we are just going to wear the clothes again. 


It means that the issues that need to be addressed, like the boss that is not respecting your time off at work or the friend that is regularly crossing your boundaries. Maybe you even downplay problems or deflect them to others–all because you are trying to maintain that inner or external harmony. You might be thinking, this is just too unpleasant. I don’t want to deal with this. I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. This could jeopardize the relationship, and it just not worth it. 



When this happens too often it actually creates more stress and anxiety in our lives. Because we aren’t getting done the things that we know need to get done. And because we know its only a matter of time before someone asks us why that isn’t done yet. It brings a lot of shame and guilt too, because we know we should be getting something done instead of leaving it to the last minute. When this happens, its easy to beat ourselves up, calling ourselves lazy or unreliable. 


But the reality is that we are just overusing one of the strengths that we have, which again is to try to maintain that positive outlook and that internal and external peace. 


Sometimes, we avoid things so much that it actually becomes a problem in our relationships! We tell our partner that we will follow through on something, but then don’t. We know we have to have a difficult and uncomfortable conversation with someone, but we avoid it until the whole thing is just so awkward. Or we ignore a conflict until we are filled with anger and resentment about it. 


Here’s the thing. It actually is not that hard to move away from procrastination and avoidance. And the pay offs can be a huge reduction in stress, anxiety, and conflict. 


If you can begin to address the habit of avoidance if you can stop procrastinating, you can ease a lot of stress both within yourself and within your relationships, whether they are at home or at work or with friends. 


I promised you that I would give you a specific tool to help you do this. Here it is. Its an “I’ll do” list. Its my take on a “to do” list. 


If you are like pretty much every working mom on the planet, chances are you have a mile long to do list. 


You know what that list is. Here’s how you go about turning that to do list into an I’ll do list. 


First, grab a pen and paper and center yourself in a quiet space. Take some deep breaths. Really feel the rise and fall of your breath. Take some time to do a scan of your body. From head to toe. Noticing how each part of your body feels. Rub two fingers together. Notice the ridges on your fingers. 


Once you’ve gotten grounded in your body. The second step is to make a list of everything you need to do. Take 5 to 10 minutes and just dump all of the things you need to do today out of your head and onto paper. If you already have a written out running to do list. You can just use that. 


The third step, is to take that list and rank it in terms of importance. This again, takes you 5 to 10 minutes. 


And then the fourth step–and here’s where the magic lies. You look at that list. Start at the top. Ask yourself, from a space of nonjudgment, is this something that I am willing to do today. Be honest with yourself. If you are not willing to do that today. That’s okay. Just accept that and move on. Don’t even ask why right now. Just accept. Nope. Not doing that today. 


Then move on down the list. Ask yourself the same question for each item. Until you get to an item that you will do. And then do that item. 


The idea here is to stop judging and stop beating ourselves up about what we are not doing. About the things that we are avoiding. To trust that those things that we are avoiding do not need to get done today. To trust that for whatever reason, we are not ready to do a particular task. And to build within ourselves proof that we can do things, even if we are not necessarily excited about them (like the laundry) or even if they are uncomfortable (like a hard conversation with a friend). Or even if they are stressful (like making a budget).  


Now what if you get all the way to the end of your list, and you don’t want to do any of those things today. You aren’t willing to do a one of them. Then what? Then you come back later that day. You come back the next. You are gentle with yourself. Let it lie. You do not need to beat yourself up. I know you are already doing a million things anyway. If you are not willing today to do any of the items on this list that you just made, than just accept that. The key here is to stop the shame and guilty, because that stands in our way of getting anything done. Be gentle with yrouself. ANd try again tomorrow. 

As you do this, you’ll teach your brain that you can do these things and that you do not need to avoid them. You will show yourself that you are capable of getting tasks done and having difficult conversations. You’ll build that skill for yourself. And you’ll gradually overtime avoid and procrastinate less–and you’ll do that without beating yourself up. 


This mind hack is a productivity hack that goes really well with this week’s efficiency hack too. So, if you haven’t checked out Episode 30 about the Golden Triangle, go back and listen to it. 


My friends, I know its easier to believe that if you just tell yourself to do something. If you make a million to do lists. Try all kinds of systems to get things done. But the truth is until you are kinder to yourself. Until you stop beating yourself up. Until you get out of the shame around what you DON’T Do, you aren’t going to consistently get stuff done. And you aren’t going to feel good either. You are going to feel good about yourself. Or what you are doing. Its time to do things differently from a place of wisdom and a place of peace. From discernment instead of from bullying ourselves. Using this “I Will do” list, instead of a to do list, is one way that you can begin this shift. And as moms, we get to lead and model the way on this, but as always, we have to go first. 


Alright my friends. I hope this is helpful for you. I’ll see you next week! 



Conclusion–OUTRO