You are currently viewing Episode 171 – Procrastination

Episode 171 – Procrastination

We all procrastinate, but why? And how much is too much? 

We put off until tomorrow what we know we should do today and end up frantically winging it at the last second. We know this isn’t the best life strategy but we do it over and over again. 

In today’s episode we’re answering all these questions and showing you how to stop suffering from procrastination.


Hey, welcome to the show. Although I don’t really think of this as a show, more of a conversation between me and you, I thank you so much for being here. I know that your time is precious. So. I hope that you’re out on a walk and a beautiful spring day or whenever you’re listening to this or folding your laundry, I’m just happy to be with you and let you know that you’re not alone.

And there are so many things you can do to live a beautiful life after baby loss. Um, it is just a passion of mine to help people who have experienced this unique kind of grief. And sometimes we talk about really grief specific things here, and lots of times we’re just talking about life. And today I wanted to talk about procrastination.

You are going to want to listen to this entire episode. I’m going to keep it really doable and succinct for you. Because, like, I do know that we all have stuff going on. I’m But I think this is something that affects every single human being to some degree. But even more so now I see it a lot of people just feeling overwhelmed and stuck in procrastination.

So first I want to start by saying procrastination is not a character flaw. You don’t procrastinate because you are lazy, even though, like, sometimes we might just be lazy and that’s okay, right? I think we can own that part that’s just like, yeah, I’m lazy. Our brain would really prefer we do nothing.

And sometimes our body, it’s just tired. That’s fine. If you’re procrastinating because you are just being lazy, just own it. Not a big deal. But it really isn’t a character flaw. I think this is where a lot of us get caught up as we start blaming ourselves. So that’s what we’re going to do today. We are going to talk about why we procrastinate and then what to do about it so that you can get going on the things you want to do in your life and feel good and feel that weight and that relief of like getting things off your to do list, getting them off of your mental clutter.

Really? Because that’s the most exhausting part. Okay. Some of the reasons we procrastinate, and I came up with these. I also just looked around. I’ve read different books on like habits and, and all kinds of things. So I kind of just put it together into a list. There could be more. Um, I really want you to adapt this to what you see in your life.

But, Again, we’re trying to take away some of the shame about procrastination. So some of the reasons we procrastinate, anxiety. Uh, I see this a lot in goals or in business, um, with people like who are afraid to put a video online or they’re, they’re just like afraid of what people will think of them if they do this or they’re, they’re just afraid that it’s going to turn out badly.

And Anxiety really does come up and it’s those butterflies in your stomach. You’re feeling, um, a lot of nerves. And I also see this a lot for my clients in social situations. They might be going to, so they are grieving and they have a wedding or they’re grieving and they’re going to a baby shower or they’re going to a Christmas party or whatever it is.

There’s a lot of anxiety. for an event, and so they will procrastinate, right? Maybe they’re supposed to bring something, maybe they’re supposed to plan something, maybe they’re participating in some way, and they just keep putting it off and putting it off because of this fear and this anxiety really about feeling a feeling, right?

They’re afraid and dreading what this experience is going to feel like, what people are going to say, what they’re going to do, and how awful it’s going to

another reason procrastination can come up is neurodivergence, right? If your brain doesn’t work with the way, you know, quote unquote, normal people get things done, you might just think something’s wrong with you, but your brain just might work differently. , another one is our nervous system. It kind of goes along with the anxiety.

But it’s like next level. Sometimes our nervous system gets really, really activated in our body. And that’s when we do feel, uh, fight, flight, or freeze coming up. And that freeze can be, look like procrastination. And again, we’re blaming ourselves like, why can’t I just do this? , this is another one I see like with the, the people who want to make cute reels or they want to, , get their name out there and do something or go bigger with their charity, whatever it is.

And it’s like their nervous system actually doesn’t feel safe doing that. So it’s really important that we address that, right? Address our body. What physical things do we have going on in our body? , another one that keeps us procrastinating is we’re trying to escape negative emotions. We don’t want to feel, this is the same one like I said before, we don’t want to feel awful, we don’t want to feel awkward, we don’t want to burst into tears, we don’t want to feel sad.

Part of this is perfectionism. Perfectionism, we think it means we want to do things perfectly so that we can get that A plus and that gold star. But really, we can end up being just so afraid of failure, so afraid of what it would feel like if we didn’t do it perfectly. We’re so afraid and paralyzed that we don’t even start.

Really perfectionism is trying to escape negative emotions. And we know that perfectionism and procrastination really go hand in hand. Another one is escaping physical discomfort. A really easy example of this that came to my mind was we, in our old house, we used to have kind of this wood chip area where a trampoline was and, um, It would get the worst weeds in the spring.

And I would say like, Hey kids, you know, Saturday morning, we’re going to go out there. We’re going to pull these weeds. We’ll do it before it gets hot. And, and we’ll just get it done. And my kids are like, no way, mom, like they are doing everything they can. Well, I still need to eat. Or I’m just tired. Or they don’t get out of bed.

Or they, you know, they’ve got all these things they need to do. Before they pull weeds and they’re doing everything they can to push the weeds back, push the weeds back and ignore what I’m saying. And because they think pulling weeds, number one, it’s boring. So they’re trying to escape that emotional part of it.

Right? That uncomfortable emotion they don’t want, but it’s also it’s hot. It’s dirty and dusty and the weeds are pokey and they’re going to get sweaty and tired and, and they don’t want to do that. , so sometimes we think things will be physically uncomfortable, and so we’re going to procrastinate them.

Then there’s negative beliefs we have about ourselves. And we’re going to talk a lot more about this in the rest of the episode, but if we don’t believe we can do something, like even in the case of these weeds, let’s say these kids, they’re always like. I can’t do that. I can’t get those all pulled.

It’s going to take me forever, right? There’s all these things going on in your head. So if you have a goal, if you have something you want to do, um, you might have negative beliefs about your ability to get it done or your ability to handle what it takes to get to that goal. And so notice those negative beliefs.

And then there’s grief, right? All of us here have grief. It takes a lot of energy and it also shifts what’s important. So if you’re especially in like fresh grief, which I would define, I don’t even know the first couple of years of grief, , things that used to be important, aren’t going to be important.

And that’s okay. So if you’ve kind of like used to always keep your house perfect and now you just don’t care because who cares if there’s a towel on the floor when your baby just died? , that’s okay too, right? But just notice like grief has shifted my focus. Grief has shifted where I’m putting my energy and what I want to do.

You know, you may have been climbing the corporate ladder and then your baby died and it’s like, Okay, like I am not gonna keep doing that right now. So, it is procrastination, like we might define it as procrastination, but I want you to be really careful, and really kind and compassionate and intentional when you say, especially in the griefy part.

It’s like if you’re putting stuff off, grief is. sometimes a reason you would choose to do that. But don’t just blame yourself or think, Oh, why can’t I get it together? Why can’t I do this thing that I really used to want to do? Um, if grief has shifted things, that’s okay. And grief also might make us procrastinate because it takes a lot of energy.

We can be a lot more emotional. We might not be sleeping well or eating well, All of that, right? We gotta look at a, the whole picture. That’s what we wanna do here, is like, we are a whole person, we’re multifaceted. There’s a lot going on. So you might have all these things going on at the same time,

it’s not necessarily one or the other. Um, we just wanna be aware of it. And really none of these need to be excuses, sometimes we do that to ourselves. We’re like, Oh, I’m just making up all these excuses, you know, just because this happened or whatever, I should still be able to do it. I don’t want you to do that to yourself.

What we want is to look at these reasons we might be procrastinating to help us understand what’s going on for us because we always get to choose our stories and how we talk to ourselves. So if you have a story where you’re lazy and you can’t get your crap together and you’re always running behind, that’s not fun.

Um, if your parents or a school teacher or coach or somebody said things to you about your work ethic or your ability to stay on task and you internalize that, now you’re carrying their judgments with you as an adult and you don’t have to do that. So here’s one more reason, which is task aversion. So, what do you think the experience of the task will be?

Again, these kind of all, like, overlap.

But if you think something’s going to be boring or difficult or emotionally exhausting, again, notice that this is a story, and Oh my goodness, our brains are really good at coming up with these stories. Like, we recently ran out of paper towel. And guess how many people in this household did not replace the paper towel?

Probably most of the people here walked past and didn’t do it. Because the paper towel, like the new rolls, are down in the basement in the storage room., Now I have been working a lot on doing tasks right when I see them because it is like really exhausting for me to, to keep so many tabs open in my brain.

So I’ve been trying to be better and I’m also trying to teach my kiddos and model that like instead of just telling them to do it when you see it, that I want to model it. So I ran downstairs, I grabbed two rolls of paper towel, one for to put. On the, you know, paper towel dispenser and then one to put in the closet right next to it and then boom, like, I am done.

That’s over. And it’s all good. But often what happens is we’re busy. We’re on our way out the door. We notice it, but we don’t do anything. Then we spill something and there’s no paper towels. We grab a rag, but it’s gross because someone didn’t rinse, squeeze and hang it up again, which is one of my hugest pet peeves.

Like there’s nothing worse to me than a dishcloth that’s like at the bottom of the sink, all gross.

So then you got to grab a new washcloth. You got to wipe up the spill. Uh, you probably walk past the room with the paper towel a bunch of other times. You keep reminding yourself to do it, but your head keeps telling the story. I don’t have time right now, or that’s such a big task to do, or I don’t want to go downstairs, or I can’t leave the kitchen right now.

I’m cooking. I’ll do it later. That seems like a lot of effort. I’ll do it later. But eventually someone spills some raw eggs, so finally you do it, and it takes three seconds. This is a really simple example, but notice how hard our brain works to get us to not grab a roll of paper towel. Well, you want to write a book?

Maybe next year, you know? You want to finish your basement? Eh, it sounds really expensive and messy. You need to pick out a headstone. If you do that, you might hate it later, so you better just not do it. Plus, it might be really emotional. Also, you’re not really good at making decisions, so better just keep it in the back of your mind forever.

That’s our brain talking. The best news about these stories is number one, once you’re aware of them, they immediately start losing their power. Awareness means you can see what your brain is doing. You know, generally why it’s doing it. And you know, it’s a story. Not facts. Don’t believe everything you think, especially when you’re observing yourself procrastinating.

Number two, you can love yourself and all your stories. They’re kind of funny, right? It’s fascinating to watch our brains work. It’s fascinating to notice how your upbringing influences you now. It’s so much softer and gentler to choose love instead of shame, self loathing, And bringing out your inner critic.

If you are struggling with procrastination, with a certain goal, or just overall in all the areas of your life, you are still worthy of love. Let yourself be messy. Let yourself be human. See what happens. Most people think that if you’re just nice and kind to yourself, it will lead you to being on your phone, on the couch, doing nothing, eating bonbons forever.

But that’s not true. It’s not true. What happens is the love brings out the real you. The love breaks down those walls and helps you overcome your obstacles in such a kinder way. And number three, if you’re going to use your imagination to make up stories about you, your goals, and your ability to complete them, why not make up ones that serve you?

You have that power. Back to the kids pulling weeds. I probably do this every single time. I tell myself if I’m nice and I offer them treats after and I give them flexibility and remind them how much better it will be to do it early, surely we’ll all have fun and get the job done and teamwork makes the dream work.

It’s fully delusional at this point because that never ever happens. But what’s the downside to believing it? You know, and I’m much more likely to get closer to that vision if I go into it with a good story. If I start from the top thinking it will be hot, grouchy, awful, and I will end up weeding alone.

I’ll just forget about it. Right? Like I will just sit down and give up. Okay. So now we know why we procrastinate. We have some awareness of our stories and we’re ready to change them. But what do you do? Don’t worry. I’ve got you. Here are a few quick tips if you’re procrastinating and it’s feeling really frustrating.

Number one, you don’t need to want to do something to do it. This is a lie. You don’t need to feel motivated. You don’t have to be excited. Part of being human, especially a human adult, is doing things we kind of don’t want to do because we do want the result. Right? So it’s this thing where You want the result like you want the clean closet, but your brain’s telling you, well, you don’t want to clean the closet though,

we wish we could just snap our fingers like Mary Poppins. But if we wait until we feel like it, we’re not going to do a whole lot of things we do in our life. Now I’m not saying you have to make it all awful and drudgery, but yeah, sometimes you got to just get yourself started and drop the excuse that like, I don’t feel like doing it.

You don’t need to want to do it to do something or feel like doing something. Number two, find a system that works for you. And the emphasis there is for you. I try really hard on this podcast to not tell you what to do ever. What I want to do is empower you to figure out what works for you. You can buy all the planners and all the apps, but if you don’t like it, you won’t use it.

So you got to check in with yourself and how your brain works and what your preferences are and build your systems around that instead of working against yourself, a lot of times this is where we have those stories we learned even in coach training, there’s this certain method of productivity that, uh, my mentor taught me and taught all of us.

Right. So she’s teaching everyone who went to that same school, this one way to organize your time, this one way to get tasks done. And it just didn’t work for me. Honestly, part of it was because I am a mom of many children. Who are unpredictable and this system kind of is very regimented. It was very like on this day you do this and on this day you do this and then you, you never change it.

You stick to your program and like you, um, keep your appointments with yourself and, and all of these very rigid, um, I don’t even know what’s the word. It’s like there was no room for flexibility. And there’s no room for downtime. Like it really wasn’t, or the only downtime you could have is if you put it in your schedule.

And that’s just not how my life is. And it didn’t work. So of course, first of all, you kind of try to do it and you try, um, and you fail, you know, it doesn’t work. And then you have to go through this whole story where you’re kind of upset and you’re wondering why is this working for everyone else? It’s not working for me.

And then really you come to the conclusion that like, that just is not the system for me. That’s where I landed. I was like, you know what, this doesn’t work for me. I don’t want to do it and I don’t have to do it. So really, if you follow someone online or you’ve bought this or that, and you’ve, you’ve tried all the things.

If they didn’t work for you, it’s not because something’s wrong with you. They just didn’t work for you. So, find something that’s different. Make a hybrid. Like, be flexible. We go through seasons. We go through cycles. We have different things taking our energy. You just decide what works best for you. That’s going to be really, Like some of it’s practical, some of it’s the stories and the way you’re thinking and feeling but there’s lots of different things you can try.

, to work with yourself, right? If you feel like you’re in a rut, what can you switch up? I, uh, a few, I don’t know, like a month or so ago, maybe, uh, the power or the internet was going to be down. So I went to the library and worked and that really helped my productivity because I was at the library. It was a public place.

Like I didn’t have as many distractions. I didn’t have a fridge to go snack out of or anything. Little things we can do to just switch it up. Do that. Try it. See what works. And if it stops working, do something different. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s only wrong like when we tell ourselves it’s wrong.

Right. And we don’t want to do that. And then number three is something I love, which is accountability. So get a partner to walk with you. Like if you have a goal to walk, get a partner. If you’re trying to get some work done, jump on a zoom call with a friend who also has a project they’re working on. So you can both show up.

You don’t even need to talk. Just like have the computer open. I love it. Or you can hire a coach to help clean out all your excuses and keep you on task. You could also post about it online for accountability. You really don’t have to do this alone. That’s the thing. We sit there with the stuff we want to do and we’re just mean to ourselves and we’re kind of miserable and we’re just stewing around and around and around instead of just doing the thing.

I promise you that the dread and the procrastination and the amount of energy it takes to not do the thing. It’s way more than just doing the thing. Just do the thing. I promise. Just try it. And it might be awful and it might turn out a mess, but you did it here’s a bonus tip. If you write down your goal, give it a date when you’ll be done, then break it down into small doable goals.

You will be way more likely to be successful. You can reward yourself and celebrate yourself as you complete each small task and then just be your own best cheerleader. Like really obnoxiously celebrate yourself. We’re so bad at this. So I’m here to tell you, you can celebrate yourself. Like even if you, if the only thing you did today was write down your task, give yourself a trophy.

Get a treat, jump up and down, do a happy dance. Cause I don’t want you to sit in that in action, to sit in that misery of thinking about it and thinking about it and thinking about it and using all the energy to think about a thing. If you don’t want to do it, choose not to do it and choose to put that away for now.

Right? But if you want to do it, Just do it. Do the Nike. Come on, because the truth is there is also a part of human beings that loves learning, loves growing, and loves doing hard things. You love feeling accomplished. It’s innate in us. It’s more slow and steady in energy than the quick dopamine hits we get from like scrolling our phone or eating a donut.

But that gratification is worth the effort. It builds you up inside and it lasts much longer, like a lot of the times here, we’re kind of pulling out these, I’m not even gonna say their problems or their negative, right? Like the parts of our brain that don’t want us to do anything that causes to procrastinate.

We’re talking about that. But I also always want to talk about there is. So much goodness in being a human. And that is a beautiful part of us. The part that always wants growth, you know, the part of us that like wants to climb a mountain just because it’s there, because we want the experience. And I want you to keep experiencing life.

Even though your heart’s been broken, even though the future is unknown, even though you’re afraid of things, like I want you to live fully and deeply. And that’s where looking for this energy, this like deep grounded, satisfying energy is going to serve you so well. My nephew is running a marathon. I think it’s his weekend.

Um, he’s been running since he was a kid. I don’t know if he started like junior high, high school being on like the cross country team, but he’s been running for a long time, but this is his first marathon and no matter what, he’ll always be able to say he did it. did it. And he can recall all the emotions that he went through getting there.

And he can recall the tough parts and the painful parts. It’s going to be amazing. And it’s going to be hard. But delayed gratification, like training for a marathon can be so sweet. Working for something that takes a lot of effort is even more satisfying to accomplish. Overcoming obstacles and managing your mind when it tells you to quit will serve you so well in your life.

You know you. Trust yourself. Don’t believe those crappy stories your brain tells you. I believe in you and all your dreams. Even if you just want to clean out the back of your fridge today. And as I was finishing up this outline, I had the thought to add this too. And I always try to listen to these thoughts when they come to me.

So I recently went to a hormone health doctor to get all kinds of labs done. I don’t know how many vials of blood they drew. I’m still waiting on the results. But I’ve had issues with my periods for years. And I’ve done some things to address the symptoms, but not really dug into the root cause. I’m also turning 43 this year, and I want to be proactive about perimenopause and all the changes that that brings.

But I put it off because I was too busy, or we lived, you know, a few hours away, or it was probably expensive, like all these reasons. But then I just chose to do it. I also just made an appointment with a pelvic floor physical therapist. After eight pregnancies, I’ve done quite well, but there are a few things bothering me and my normal gynecologist just said, well, deal with it.

Um, so many times as women were told to just deal with it. And we do so much, but I’m here to say that if you’ve been procrastinating about your health, whether you’re afraid to get a mammogram or a test to find out why you’ve had your losses, or you just need to get something taken care of, that’s been bothering you, go do it, please use all the tools I taught you today.

Make that appointment. I know that it can be hard to trust medical professionals. It can be hard to advocate for yourself, or to keep trying when you’re told things are normal and there’s nothing wrong with you, but you know there is. It can be hard to go into the unknown and it can be very activating to your nervous system, but do it anyway.

Listen to yourself. Listen to your body. You know if something is off or if something needs to be checked. You might not feel like doing it, but do it anyways. Now go get that task, that thing, you know, you’ve been putting off done. Bask in the warmth of feeling accomplished. And here’s one more thing I got for you.

Mother’s day is coming up really soon and you do not have time to procrastinate this. You’re already getting the emails. You’re already seeing this stuff in stores. I know this. So I am giving you a gift of free mother’s day coaching. You get a full 45 minute session with me. Um, it’s going to be beautiful.

You come in and tell me what you’re worried about Mother’s Day, whether it’s your in laws, whether it’s your grief, whether it’s feeling like your partner is not going to do anything and you hate that every year, whether it’s your identity as a mother. And how do I even celebrate Mother’s Day when no one can see I have children?

I just don’t feel like I fit. I don’t want you to feel that way. I want you to have confidence. I want you to go into Mother’s Day feeling really prepared. So I’m going to give you a plan in our time together. All you need to do is send me an email amy at smoothstonescoaching. com and I will get you on my calendar.

I’m going to fit as many people as I can. So grab your spot, figure out what you need coaching on the most and let’s do it. Let’s get you feeling better for Mother’s Day. It’s my gift to you. I love you. I’ll see you next time.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.