How to Handle Procrastination with Compassion

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When you’re depressed, things that you normally enjoy often feel like uphill struggles–and the things you have to do can feel downright impossible. Procrastination and depression are closely tied together, and with that comes feelings of guilt and self-blame. We get so caught up in what we “should” be doing that doing anything at all starts to feel overwhelming.

There are many approaches to getting past that cycle of procrastination, many of which focus on the idea of organizing your work to the point that you stop feeling uncomfortable getting started. This week, Zen Habits proposed a slightly less conventional productivity plan that instead asks us to lean into that discomfort.

Now we’re going to do “pause training,” where instead of running from the discomfort, you pause. Breathe. Turn your attention to this discomfort — it might be fear, frustration, uncertainty, self-doubt, tiredness. Drop your story about this discomfort, and just notice how it feels physically, in your body. Where is this feeling of discomfort located? What quality does it have?

You’ll notice that the discomfort actually doesn’t feel that bad, even though you habitually want to run from it. It’s just energy. It’s not actually good or bad, but just energy that’s in your body, one that you normally don’t want to have and normally judge as “bad.”

 
The article goes on to explain how to work through those feelings of discomfort once you’re able to accept them. It’s an approach that asks us to be compassionate with ourselves, and accept the feelings that we can’t necessarily just suppress.

It might be a practical approach when getting things done just isn’t working.

[Zen Habits]