“My own behaviour baffles me. For I find myself doing what I really hate, and not doing what I really want to do!” Saint Paul (Romans 7:15)
“Never put off till tomorrow, what you can do the day after tomorrow.” Mark Twain
It can be a reassuring to find out that some of the greatest minds in history suffered from procrastination. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the great nineteenth-century poet, had such a weakness. His family, friends and even he himself recognised the problem. His editor and nephew, Henry, wrote about him saying he was a “victim of procrastination habit.” In fact Coleridge’s excuses for lateness became legendary.
Procrastination and what to do about it
We find examples of procrastination scattered throughout history. Hieroglyphs translated by a professor of Egyptology, Ronald Leprohon, found that ancient Egyptians struggled with time management – “Friend, stop putting off work and allow us to go home in good time.”
Procrastination seems to curse us all at some time in our life.
This issue seems to be connected to the prefrontal cortex of the brain; the area responsible for decision making. It helps us set goals, to experience the future and allows us to run different options and outcomes.
It can also overload the decision process with too many options.
This includes both conscious and unconscious decisions. Yes, we have a range of decisions that happen under conscious awareness. When we become overloaded it is easier not to do anything and we call this procrastination.
The benefits of procrastination
Could there be any benefits to putting things off?
From an evolutionary point of view it makes sense. We need to conserve energy, so as long as we have food, shelter and a sense of safety there is no to expend energy. In fact, putting something off until later could be viewed as being an advantage.
You may be familiar with the “The principle of least effort.” Nature is efficient and so, for example, water flows along the path of least resistance. This similarly applies to electricity where free and negatively charged electrons become attracted to move towards a positive terminal to create a current flow in a circuit.
Could postponement therefore be built into our nature? It makes sense. However, when procrastination is working against you, how can you move into action?
The natural progress of procrastination to action
Here’s the thing; if we did nothing but procrastinate then nothing would get done in the world.
? Let’s explore.
- With inaction we reach a point when we become frustrated. It’s important to note that emotion injects a little energy into the body.
- As the inaction persists and the frustration develops we start to become angry. This emotion introduces a lot of energy in the body. Anger is like dynamite. Dynamite has a spectacular effect and can blow up and destroy mountains or explode in your face. When you direct anger in a meaningful way you become unstoppable.
- This charged flow of energy can ideally manifest as motivation. In effect, motivation takes the anger and focuses it.
- The result is ……action
“Is there an NLP technique that could be used to harness this flow of energy and create movement from a negative state of procrastination through to positive action?” I hear you say. Well indeed there is, I’m glad you asked. It is called Chained Anchoring.
As explained during our NLP Diploma training, it is possible to anchor a resourceful state that can be accessed whenever you want it. Anchoring is the process of associating an internal response with a trigger so that the response may be quickly and often covertly re-accessed. Notably, chained anchoring is a more advanced anchoring technique that is taught on our NLP Practitioner training and it is important that it is administered by someone who is trained and qualified as an NLP Practitioner to follow these steps:
- Identify the undesirable present state (g. procrastination).
- Decide on the positive/resource end state (e.g. action).
- Decide on intermediate states to lead to the end state (e.g. frustration, anger, motivation)
- Design the chain:
- Elicit and anchor each state separately, beginning with the present state through to the end state. Make sure that the subject is completely out of the previous state before anchoring the next one.
- Fire the present state anchor and when it is at its peak, release and fire the intermediate anchor #1.
- Subject should go into present state and then into intermediate state #1.
- Fire the present state anchor. Watch subject go into present state and then into intermediate state #1. When at peak, add intermediate state #2.
- Add each intermediate anchor in the same way.
- Fire the present state anchor. The subject should go through all the intermediate states and finish up in the end state.
You might like to look into this straight away, or you may choose to put off procrastination for a later date.
Our NLP Practitioner training provides a wealth of learning. It not only gives you the tools to deal with procrastination, but also covers motivation, confidence, direction, values, limiting beliefs and modelling success. The time for action is now. Click here to book your place