Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

Taming the Procrastination Beast

37 Comments

Smart people procrastinate.

Really? What do smart people have to procrastinate about? Can’t they just get things done with ease and aplomb?

Oh, brother.

(Now I realize that you may not be a procrastinator. And if you aren’t, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t a smart person. I’m just making a sweeping generalization, as is my tendency, because so many of the rainforest-minded folks I know, are. Procrastinators. And, as I’ve told you before, I know a heck of a lot of smart people since I’ve been working with them in some form or another since the ’70s which I realize suggests that I must be close to geezerhood. Which I am. But, age aside, I still have a totally unscientific anecdotal experience of hordes of g-g-gifted people waiting until the very very last minute to complete whatever it was that needed completing.)

Really.

For those of you who are procrastinators, then, or for those of you who have one or more in your home, I’m here to help.

First, let’s get clear about the reasons why you procrastinate. In no particular order.

Do you ever think any of the following:

If I do it at the last minute, and it’s not great, it’s because I didn’t have the time.

I have to be brilliant all the time or people will see I’m not so smart. They’ll be disappointed in me and I can’t let that happen.

My identity depends on my achievements. If I fail at something, it means I’m worthless.

I believe that everything I do needs to be perfect.

I could do assignments for school at the last minute and still get an A. Now I don’t know how not to do things at the last minute.

I never learned how to take one step at a time or prioritize so I get overwhelmed by tasks.

What I’m doing is so mundane, I can at least add time pressure to make it more stimulating.

I can’t be mediocre, ordinary, work hard, ask for help or lose.

What do all of these thoughts have in common?

Pressure. Expectations. Perfectionism. Performance anxiety. Patterns formed in childhood. A shadow side of being g-g-gifted.

So, what do you do?

First, you don’t have to feel guilty if you haven’t tamed your procrastination. In the best book I’ve seen on the topic, titled creatively, Procrastination, by Jane Burka and Lenora Yuen, readers are told that the factors that contribute to procrastination are “not only individual psychological, behavioral, and emotional issues, but also social, cultural, and technological dynamics, biological and neurological predispositions and universal human tendencies.”books

Oh boy.

Now don’t get all overwhelmed on me.

They then provide several chapters of excellent suggestions. Steps you can take to begin to tame the beast.

And, what else?

What if you start to imagine that you do have a rainforest mind. You’re highly sensitive, empathetic, socially conscious, emotional, creative, and intense. You analyze deeply. You think nonstop.

It’s not good or bad. It just is. You just are.

And remember–

“Confronting and changing long-held assumptions about you and your family can be unnerving and disorienting. This is why procrastination is so hard to overcome. It’s not simply a matter of changing a habit; it requires changing your inner world. However, as you access capabilities and parts of yourself that have been held back by procrastination, you can derive great pleasure in claiming your whole self.”  Jane Burka & Lenora Yuen

_______________________________

To my dearest blogEEs:

Let me/us know your experiences with procrastination and how you deal with it. Don’t put it off. Do it now!

This is very likely the last post before the SENG conference this coming week, July 18-20, in San Jose, CA. I mean, I really have to finish planning my presentation. Not that I’m a procrastinator, mind you. I’m not. I’m just saying…

 

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Author: Paula Prober

I'm a psychotherapist in private practice in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in counseling gifted adults and consulting with parents of gifted children. The label "gifted" is often controversial and confusing. I use the metaphor of the rain forest to describe this population. Like the rain forest, these individuals are quite complex, highly sensitive, intense, multi-layered, and misunderstood. They're also curious, idealistic, highly intelligent, creative, perfectionistic, and they love learning. I've been an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I've written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, and Advanced Development Journal. My book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, was released in June 2016 by GHF Press and is available on Amazon or at your independent bookstore.

37 thoughts on “Taming the Procrastination Beast

  1. Great post! It speaks to me…but I’ll think about that tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “I still have some time left. And I really want to read this…. ”
    “I’m just not in the mood to do it yet, and I still have some extra time….”
    I’ve got to get this project done for Joey before I can work on anything for me….”
    “If I don’t clear off this tabletop and clean and water and vacuum and….I won’t be able to concentrate when I start on this project.”
    “It’s almost dinner time and I need to figure out what we’re going to eat tonight before I can start a project….”
    ….

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Wow love you Paula …you are so fantastic…how do you know this stuff and me 🙂 yes the messages speak to me so much…about how you can do it a few minutes so why spend more time and the never learning how people learn and the well if I do it at the last minute then I don’t put myself out there…wow that one gave me chills man! 🙂 and from the parentified child files we won’t let you do it anyway because we want your well being and genius to be used for us..so logistically you will have to wait until we go to bed or whatever…BUT I have changed it I believe…being busier helps because you don’t have time to procrastinate if you only have a certain amount of time to complete something before you move on….enjoy the conference….. Way 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, the “parentified child files.” I’m so familiar with those. Will have to blog about that one of these days. Thank you as always for sharing your thoughts. I shall enjoy the conference and get back to you and blogworld soon!

      Like

  4. This is extremely enlightening and helpful. I cannot wait to read the book, thanks for making me think and learn.
    I look forward to your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t procrastinate on work, I procrastinate on relaxing. In my family of origin, relaxation was not allowed until all the work was done. And there was always work to be done. The emphasis was definitely on perfection, and I adopted it wholesale. 🙂

    I did manage to find time to be creative, and I worked hard at that. Somehow it never felt like work though. There is that weird sense of play you so frequently mention. I still do that. 🙂

    A variation on this theme for me is being chronically late. It took me years to figure out that I could not leave my house unless the bed was made, the dishes were done, the counters and tables clear. Then I had to be sure I had *everything* I might need when I went out. No casual dashing out for me. Hair, clothes, all must be just so. Perfectionism.

    I chronically underestimate how long it will take me to get somewhere because I never want to waste any of my precious time. Heaven forbid that I should just sit for 5 minutes. How inefficient! (laugh)

    The best thing I can do about all of this is to laugh and take it less seriously. And try to be on time. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is another good topic, Gigi. I have had clients and friends who are chronically late and I think there can be many reasons for it. Fascinating that you can connect it to perfectionism. And time wasting! Have you thought about always bringing a book with you wherever you go so that you’ll have something worthwhile to do if you have to wait? Oh, and laughing whenever possible. Yes!! (and making time to be creative–)

      Like

  6. Wow. Your posts are great. I feel quite a few of these things and it depends on the task which ones actually freeze me up and tangle me into inaction. Are there known connections between TAG or gifted and ADD?

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are people who are both gifted and ADD. And there are people who are gifted who seem to be ADD and aren’t. Those people are often highly creative and passionate about many things and appear to be easily distractible and impulsive but are really just intense and very full of ideas. Have you read about ADD? Books by Ed Hallowell are good. Reading about ADD might help you differentiate between the two. Thanks for commenting.

      Like

  7. Is there some connection between TAG and being super messy creative exhausted? Basically Im hoping society and my wife that I can find a way theyll keep me

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Billy. I hope they keep you! Sometimes TAG folks are messy, creative and exhausted. Other TAG individuals are neat, creative and exhausted. Some are messy at times, neat at times, creative at times and energetic at time. So, it all depends. Relationships can be challenging for people with rainforest minds.

      Like

  8. Pingback: Taming the Procrastination Beast | Creative Passages

  9. Reblogged this on Parenting Today's African American Children and commented:
    I am constantly fighting my procrastination or that of my children. I am hoping for recovery as soon as I get time to read this book! 🙂 Great article!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Toni. Thank you for the reblog. I’m glad you liked the post. Let me know if you find the book to be helpful. I’m going to check out your blog as well.

    Like

  11. I’d like to say something, but I think I need to go sweep my kitchen before I do. Or maybe (eventually) that homework that is due tonight.

    #everythinginthispostisspoton

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I used to regret my tendency toward procrastination. More recently I’ve come to accept my procrastination as a writer is really me allowing my brain to puzzle through all the possibilities more or less on mute. To keep it from getting me in trouble–and specifically to prevent it from causing me to “miss” deadlines, I just give myself a firm deadline BEFORE the one provided by my editors. And then I let myself take as long as I need to get revved up and meet my internal deadline. It works. I now work in bright, frenzied bursts. For my freelance journalism, it also means that my hourly rate is higher because I spend less time in front of the computer.

    Loved you post. Hope to see you in San Jose!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve found that some gifted folks think that the incubation process is procrastination. I wonder if that’s what you’re describing. Maybe your “getting revved up” is part of your creative process. In that case, you aren’t procrastinating. You’re just working on it in your mind. Does that sound right? Perhaps you should bill for your internal-time!

      I’m enjoying your blog! Would love to meet at the conference. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Like

      • Yes, exactly. For writers, I think that is OFTEN part of the process but we feel shamed for it, especially in the beginning of our careers.

        I laughed at the internal time quip, yet I find my clearest, most interesting sentences pop into my head at the most bizarre times. If I trust that process, I actually have a “freer” schedule. If I chain myself to my desk, it doesn’t flow.

        See you soon!

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I procrastinated in reading this because you point things out about myself that I’d rather ignore and think about later. Or never. 🙂 I stared at the open tab on my computer long enough that I finally decided to face the music. Your posts clearly illuminate what it is like to be gifted. You not only make me take a look at myself, but the kids I am lucky enough to work with. In this case, you made me realize I need to cut them a bit of slack, especially since I use exactly the same avoidance tactics. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Procrastinate or percolate? A lot of work can happen on a project while I’m procrastinating. It just may not be visible.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Percolating is not procrastinating! I just responded to a comment about the same thing. (see above). I think percolating is an active process where you’re actually working on something. You just might not be producing the product. Do you agree? I may have to elaborate on that in a future post. Can I use your “procrastinate or percolate” phrase? 🙂 Thanks Susan.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You can certainly use it…my percolation process often involves a “not actually thinking about it” period where I hope my subconscious mind is forwarding things toward an eventual Eureka! moment 😉
        Susan

        Liked by 1 person

  15. I am of the “I could do assignments for school at the last minute and still get an A. Now I don’t know how not to do things at the last minute” and “I never learned how to take one step at a time or prioritize so I get overwhelmed by tasks” variety of procrastinator and I still fight with it a lot. Now that I am older, I’m better at breaking projects into more manageable pieces and at encouraging myself to focus, but I have also gotten better at putting my energy, wherever possible, into work and activities I don’t need to talk myself into. It is definitely still an issue though, so thank you for this post.

    I am looking forward to hopefully meeting you at the conference next weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Audra. That’s a great suggestion. If you do more of what you love, there’s likely less procrastination.

      I read your letter to SENG about my article on their website. I’m so happy that it made a difference for you. I’d love to meet you at the conference. Please find me if I don’t see you first!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I am always late, due to underestimating travel time. Add a couple kids, which means getting 4 people ready even when I try to be proactive I underestimate! It makes me cringe to show up to an appointment early when I know I am going to have to sit and wait. My time is so very precious! I distinctly remember a time when I was preparing for a national competition and my parents sat me down and berated me for not practicing. When I had to put it into words… “well if I don’t win at least I have a good excuse” It was all fear based! I tell myself I work better under pressure…. Then there is documentation portion of my job, I am pulling it together last minute EVERY SINGLE TIME! Going to see if this book is in our library!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Let me know if you find the book to be helpful.

      I mentioned to someone else who also talked about being late to always bring a book or something else to do so that if you have to wait, you aren’t wasting your time. Could that work?

      Like

  17. Paula the proper reply would be, yes taking a book would solve the problem, and down time to read would be awesome!
    Truth is I always have such a laundry list of things that I could or should be doing that i feel frustrated or anxious. Making sure I always have my phone helps depending on my current to do list.

    Liked by 1 person

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