Overcoming Procrastination

by Elinor Crosby, Head Editor, INALJ Nova Scotia

Overcoming Procrastination

elinorcrosby01Hello, my name is Elinor and I am a procrastinator.

I’ve been getting better as I get older, but I’ve always been an at-the-last-possible-minute kinda gal. As a child I found my schoolwork easy, so I spent my time reading instead, and then did my work the night before it was due. This habit persisted into adulthood, though it became driven by a different psychology. If I handed in something rushed, or overdue, or didn’t hand anything at all, I was failing because I chose to, not because of someone else’s judgement. It was a twisted fear of failure, and of constantly feeling like I wasn’t good enough.

Well, now I know I’m good enough, but I still struggle with my procrastination sometimes. This leads to job applications sometimes going in just before deadline, even though I know better! I’ve gained a lot of confidence in the last twenty years, and also some coping mechanisms for when my doubts start rearing their ugly heads.

My number one strategy for overcoming procrastination is the Swallow the Toad philosophy. Basically, if the first thing you do when you get up in the morning is swallow a toad, you won’t run into anything worse for the rest of the day! I have applied this to phone calls I hate making, doing my taxes, and now to job applications. If I don’t give myself the opportunity to put an unpleasant task off until later, I also don’t have the time to stress myself out about it.

My number two strategy is finding someone to be accountable to. This is useful for longer term work, or really big events. If I tell someone I’m going to do something, I feel more obligated to do it. My brain is weird.

Strategy number three is to actually work on things like my resumes and cover letters when I don’t have a deadline looming; then it becomes more of a design and writing exercise. I completely revamped and reworked my LIS resume recently while in between job application deadlines, and it was very satisfying and I’m pleased with the end result.

Do you procrastinate? Have you come up with anything that helps you not do it? Please share!