Anna Wootton

Are You a Procrastinator? If So, It Could Be Affecting How and Why You Eat…

Everyone procrastinates some of the time, but in general there are two types of people: those who DO and those who…well, think about doing…for a while…until they get a moment of inspiration…but then, oh squirrel!…and then they try again…and eventually, right at the last minute, DO.

It’s not a bad thing to be a procrastinator. I am very much a doer, but what this means is I can be impatient and sometimes act without thinking something through fully enough. The latter is something I went through a lot as a kid, and learned the hard way, so now I am very careful about pausing before hitting the ‘submit’ button. In general, I have modified my behaviour enough to make being a ‘doer’ a good thing.

You can do the same with procrastinating. Being a procrastinator probably means you like to think things through thoroughly, have a clear picture in your mind of a situation before you enter it, and you like to avoid the unpleasant parts of life. These are all great traits! But, if you’re like 90% of today’s society and feel there aren’t enough hours in the day, and therefore procrastination is kinda messing with your life, there are ways to get on top of it.

Here’s another reason you might be motivated to shed those procrastinating ways once and for all: they can wreak havoc on emotional eating. As I blogged about a couple of weeks ago, so many of us are bored eaters. We eat when bored so we have something to do – i.e. we treat eating as an activity, which is never the healthiest way to look at food.

Likewise, procrastinators often eat for distraction. They know they have that niggling task awaiting them but they reeeeeeally don’t want to start it, so they will look for 101 things to do before they need to actually buckle down and get to work – and often they can fool themselves into believing that eating is one of those 101 things. In fact, I have a few friends who love to cook and they will almost always get up and bake an entire batch of muffins (no doubt eating some batter and a few out of the oven) in order to avoid a task. Did the muffins need to be made? No, or maybe…but not right then. That’s how badly they’re putting off that task! (Another trend I’ve seen lately is taking endless BuzzFeed quizzes, but I can’t really fault anyone for that – they are kinda addicting).

Now, if they weren’t procrastinators, they would have spent those hours getting whatever job needs to be done done rather than eating two or three unnecessary muffins that probably caused that good ol’ familiar cycle of guilt and shame to kick right back in. Which path would you rather choose? Guilt, shame and a lack of productivity? Or getting everything done, maximizing your time in your day, and giving emotional eating the boot to top it all off? Yup, I think we’re on the same page here.

So the answer is to kick procrastination in the butt. There are endless books, seminars, courses, workshops on this – and all they scream to me is: Spend hours and hundreds of dollars learning how not to procrastinate in order to procrastinate actually doing your to-do list!

Seriously, I’m sure some people get something out of these courses but they appeal to procrastinators because anytime someone can sit down and read a book about how to improve, they’re not actually putting in that time to do the improving! Here are five quick and easy steps to minimize procrastination in your life, that won’t take you hours to read or follow:

  1. Get the ugliest task done first. Tackle the biggest item on your to-do list, the one you’re most dreading, at the start of the day. Once that’s done you will feel a huge sense of relief and be so motivated that you kicked butt so early on that you will fly through the rest of your list.
  2. Let go of perfection. I’m not suggesting you turn in reports at work that are sub-par, but getting that initial draft done, even if it’s nowhere near the submittal stage, will get the bulk of the job out of the way. Refining and editing can be done later, when you’ve had a breather, and will seem far less daunting than sitting down to a blank canvas.
  3. Ask for help. If there’s anything that can be ‘delegated’, do so! This applies outside of the workplace, too. Can your husband take on some of the chores on your list? Maybe his commute home takes him past a supermarket more conveniently than yours does, so he can stop off and get dinner. Just text him the list. Likewise, is it worth paying a dry cleaner to wash your work clothes than tying up two hours on a Sunday doing laundry for the next week? Consider the pay-off and see if it’s worth it to you.
  4. Categorize your tasks. If you have to make lunches for the week, do the dishwasher,  tidy the bedroom, send some emails and do your finances, don’t start off with lunches, then go to email, then go to the bedroom, then go back and do the dishwasher…group them. All the tasks in the kitchen take care of at once, all the tasks online take care of in one sitting at your computer and so forth.
  5. Eliminate the dread from your routine. There will always be tasks we don’t want to do – at home (who wants to clean toilets anyway?) and at work (paperwork, paperwork, paperwork) but there should be fun aspects to every hat you wear in life. If all you feel when you go to work is dread at the mountain of paperwork you have to go through, consider talking to your boss about shifting the balance of your workload a bit (unless you signed up to be an admin…if that’s the case and you have since discovered you hate it, then maybe start looking for another position). At home, if you find that as soon as you walk in the door from work it’s housework time and it never ends, then consider hiring outside help – a cleaner to come once or twice a week, or a nanny to watch the kids for an hour or two after work while you decompress. If that’s out of your price range, share the household chores with your family members so they are more equal, and make an arrangement with a friend to rotate weekly playdates so you know you have a kid-free night coming at you at least once every other week. This might not seem closely linked to procrastination but, trust me, it is. If you have just one task you’re putting off, once it’s done you feel a lot better and more motivated about doing others. But if there seems to be a never-ending list of tasks you don’t want to deal with, it’s going to be hard to get your mojo going each day, so in this instance it’s probably less an issue with your attitude and more an issue with your lifestyle.

Share with me:

  • Are you a procrastinator? If so, what are your secrets for getting your butt moving?
  • Doers, do you have any wisdom to share?