Ken Corr

An Antidote for Procrastination

Do you have a task that you have put off and put off and now it’s causing you some real anxiety?  Why can’t you bring yourself to do it?  At some time or other, we have all procrastinated.  Have you noticed that the task never gets easier because we put it off?  It is always still there, waiting and waiting for us to get it done.  Most often, we finally do it and then ask, “Why did I wait so long?”  My experience is that it is easier to do the task than to worry over doing it.  But still, we procrastinate.

Procrastination is an anxiety defense.  We don’t do something because of some anxiety.  Sometimes we know what the anxiety is and sometimes it is unconscious to us.  But there is something that we fear.  Maybe we think that we can’t get it done and are afraid to fail.  Maybe we think that it is going to be hard and we don’t want to invest the energy.  Maybe we imagine that we will be judged for our work.  Regardless of the reason, we hesitate.

We know that the best antidote for anxiety is structure.  The more structure that we have, the less anxiety.  There is a simple tool for the anxiety around procrastination.  It is called Eating the Ugly Frog.  It was Mark Twain who first noted that if you start each day by eating a frog, the day will only get better.  It is hard to argue with that reasoning.   Out of that humorous observation, there developed a management principle called, “Eating the Ugly Frog.”  Brian Tracy, a productivity consultant, insists that this simple technique is a way to get your life organized.

Think about the one thing on your to do list that you most don’t want to do.   Maybe it is writing that difficult email or starting the research on the article that is due or making that unpleasant phone call or having that corrective counseling meeting with an employee.   What is the one thing that you are most likely to procrastinate doing?  Do you have that in mind?  That is your ugly frog.  Now, do that first.  Eat the ugly frog!  As Mark Twain promised, once that is done, the rest of the day is easy.  But more importantly, once that is done, the anxiety around that task is lifted.

Now, stop reading this article and go eat your ugly frog—NOW!

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