Beating Procrastination with Presence

How my client turned an insurmountable, task that she'd been putting off for months and months into a spiritual experience.

Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months and months transformed a quick, and simple task into a seemingly insurmountable job.

My client was beating herself up, frustrated that no matter how many times she’d attempted to make a regular date with her money, to file her invoices and reconcile her accounts…It never happened.

She’d even schedule the time in her diary, but when the hour arrived, she found herself busy with something else.

Her perception of the task was that it was boring, mindless, and a necessary evil. And so it never got done, until it was time to submit her accounts and the deadline was upon her.

Can you relate?

It’s a simple story of procrastination of course, but this memory of my clients experience came to me this morning when I was thinking about FLOW.

Cziksentmihalyi defines flow as “a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”

One of the pre-requisites for FLOW state include the activity being a match to skill level. If the activity is too challenging, and exceeds your current skill level, this becomes unenjoyable - disheartening and potentially anxiety inducing. If the activity is not challenging enough for your current skill level, then you become bored, disengaged and distracted.

Sometimes the pressure of a deadline is enough to flip the switch in the brain so that the task just gets done in a few hours - leaving you feeling bemused and wondering “why you just didn’t do it earlier because it was so simple!”. But you didn’t, so “hey ho!”. The fact is, your perception of the task and how you imagine it’ll make you feel when you’re doing it creates the block.

So what did my client do to overcome the procrastination of this seemingly mundane task?

Well, she altered its nature for starters. By changing the meaning she had endowed it with, as a mind-numbing, waste of time chore to a spiritual activity.

We imagined monks doing simple activities such as the tea ceremony - completing each movement with presence and grace and bringing a quality to each moment through focused presence.

We discussed this activity as being a spiritual activity, and introduced a new challenge. How present, and focused can you remain whilst completing the task?

How can you keep your focus within? How can you keep some of your attention on your body, feeling the seat beneath you, being aware of the volume of space that your body is occupying in the moment?

How long can you go before you’re pulled away from your focused attention, and how long before you recognise that you’ve been distracted?

Simply by redefining the activity, she was able to feel challenged by it.

Immediately after the call, she completed the task in a few focused hours and afterwards she reported feeling refreshed, invigorated and almost harmonised in her mind and body.

Eckhart Tolle talks about if you’re not enjoying a task, then it’s probably not what you’re doing that needs to change, but rather how you’re doing it. In other words, bring more presence to the moment and the task itself.

Your presence brings an improved quality to everything you do, as well as a greater sense of happiness and satisfaction.

Sanae x

Categories: : mindset, personal growth