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Rethinking Procrastination

by Samantha Cruff |

Does procrastination get in the way of completing important tasks?

It’s a major struggle for many of us.

Don’t want to sort through the mounds of files on your desk? Now is a great time to check fan sites to see who is likely to die on the next episode of Game of Thrones, right?

You are not alone in this productivity struggle.

Time Management Tricks Won’t Help

Research shows that procrastination is much more than laziness or a time management issue.

It’s really about mood regulation and navigating negative emotions.

Also, procrastinating doesn’t mean you’re unproductive. You can completely avoid a task that stresses you out in favor of work that you enjoy.

For example, a lawyer may happily work 10 hours a day on case files and avoid spending 30 minutes balancing his trust accounts.

Unfortunately, both are important to your firm.

Think About Self-care Instead

Procrastination becomes a downward spiral when beating ourselves up over not getting something done perpetuates negative emotions and bad moods, making us less likely to complete a task timely.

Unfortunately, procrastination affects how we take care of ourselves as well.

Some simple steps to help break the procrastination loop:

  • Self-examination. If you’re feeling the urge to procrastinate, concentrate on your emotions in that moment and try to adjust them through that awareness.
  • Self-forgiveness. It’s not the end of the world if you put something off for one day. Telling yourself “That’s ok, I got this” may be all the motivation you need.
  • Self-compassion. Changing your mood and emotions by reframing the situation with positivity can help break the loop.
  • Self-motivation. Ask yourself “what is the next action I would take to fulfill this task?” and take that small step. Motivation often follows action, and it doesn’t have to be anything big. It can often be as simple as opening an email or putting a date on a document.

Address the Stress Before It Becomes a Problem

Procrastination isn’t the worst problem stress causes.

Stress causes a host of health issues: headaches, ulcers, heart disease.

It also leads to burnout if left unaddressed.

Here are some steps you can take to help prevent stress from causing problems:

  • Be aware. Pay attention to your stress level, and actively take steps to de-stress.
  • Get a hobby. Find an activity that relaxes you and you enjoy.
  • Get away. Take a vacation or staycation that allows you to re-energize.
  • Work out regularly. Use an exercise routine to increase endorphins and improve your mentality.
  • Sleep it off. How much we sleep is a big part of our overall health, especially handling stress.

Resources are Available

North Carolina attorneys have two great resources to help them when stress becomes overwhelming. The State Bar Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP) dedicates an entire section on their website to stress and balance. The North Carolina Bar Association’s BarCARES does as well.

We can’t eliminate stress from our lives, but we can teach ourselves better coping methods to improve how we handle it.

About the Author

Samantha Cruff

Samantha Cruff is the Marketing Communications Coordinator at Lawyers Mutual. Contact Samantha for information regarding our available risk management publications at 800.662.8843 or samantha@lawyersmutualnc.com.

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