When we are faced with an unpleasant, or daunting task, many of us choose to ignore it, or procrastinate. This often isn't a very effective method in the long-term. When we don't like the way we are feeling, we try to get relief any way we can. Ignoring the problem can give us some relief initially, but it often doesn't mean the problem or task goes away. Ignoring a problem too long can give it time and space to grow, making the consequences that much more unpleasant and uncomfortable.
My name is Mallory Grimste and I am a true procrastinator by nature. I've learned over time that procrastinating a simple task that may be slightly annoying can often lead to a more overwhelming venture- and this makes me feel super stressed out!
Last month I attended the Most Awesome Conference for therapists in La Jolla, CA. It was a wonderful experience that allowed me growth not just professionally, but personally as well. I was asked to go outside of my comfort zone in many ways and I'm so glad I did! Because part of the conference had built-in time to work on the new things we were learning, I had to come face-to-face with my own Procrastination Monster and get to work.
In this blog I am going to share with you 4 tips I found helpful to get stuff done when you have anxiety, or if you're a procrastinator like me.
1. Know Your Why/Meaning
The focus of the first day of the Most Awesome Conference (MAC) was finding your "Why." This is similar to the DBT IMPROVE skill of Meaning - Finding the meaning or purpose for why something is happening. When you can find a purpose, or why this task matters to you, it can make you feel more engaged in the process.
Let's use the example of how you can use this skill when you have to clean your room. For me, I know when my room is clean, I feel mentally clear and calm. (There's actual research on this as well!)
Doesn't work for you? Think about why a clean room is important for you. Maybe once your room is clean, you'll be able to quickly find that blue hoodie you love wearing without tripping over the mountains of shoes on your floor. You're parents will may nagging you. It will smell better. Find what works for you.
2. Make A Plan
One of the most helpful experiences I found at MAC was help making action steps- these were things I could start working on or completing while I was at the conference in between my coaching sessions. It felt great to get 2-3 things done in 20-40minute sprints.
Since returning to CT, I have been using the "My Big Picture" grid to organize my yearly goals, quarterly projects, and weekly tasks. Being able to break down what I need to do into bite-sized pieces, and then working on at least one per day before moving on to all the day-to-day business tasks, has been super helpful. Not only am I more organized, I find that I am better at pacing myself and not burning myself out with all these ideas I have before I even get the water boiling.
Another organizational tool I use is the idea of focusing on 3 MITs. MIT stands for Most Important Task before moving on to the rest of my tasks for the day, week or month. This helps me feel more in control of all I need to do when things get overwhelming. Plus I feel accomplished because I often get much more done than these 3 MITs. And on the days when unplanned events, crises, or other catastrophes occur, I can still feel good about getting at least three tasks done for that day.
3. Find Your Squad
Who is your biggest supporter? Your cheerleader? The parent who is there in time of need. The coach you gives you hell at practice but that extra care and support off the field. The friend who always knows how to turn that frown upside down. You know the one- the friend who keeps it real and tells it like it is no matter what. Find the people who are IN IT TO WIN IT with you.
And make sure these people are living the life you want. If you want to feel happier, surround yourself with people who are happy. If you want to be more positive, surround yourself with optimists. I am a strong believer of the Law of Attraction ("like attracts like") which means you will attract what you put out there.
When I was at the conference, I was surrounded by some amazing and talented therapists. Each of them were genuinely kind-hearted and hard-working. It was inspiring to be in an environment with so much expertise, skill, and wisdom. I made sure to immerse myself in the experience and soak it up. I was so motivated that I was able to get through pretty much all my action steps before the conference ended! I am still in contact with this group and it has been inspiring to see their progress as I continue my journey as well.
Back home in CT, I have some pretty amazing personal and professional squads as well that I continue to rely on when I need them. Even as a therapist, I am still human and not immune to personal problems and relationship conflicts that arise from time to time. I rely on my personal support squad through those troubles and setbacks. I use my professional support squad to help me grow professionally and stay current on what's working in the world of counseling. It is wonderful being able to make it through and know I'm not on this journey alone.
4. Get Working!
What are you waiting for? Get going! You have to start sometime so why not now? Sometimes you just have to eat the frog and just get working!
Don't have time now? Make an appointment in your calendar and use that time to get started on one of these tips. One you get rocking and rolling the tasks won't seem so daunting.
Bonus Tip: Share YOUR Success!
One last bonus tip if you've made it this far- SHARE YOUR SUCCESS! Go ahead and post a comment to share how you get stuff done with anxiety. When we share our successes we feel good about ourselves and may inspire someone else who is having trouble getting started.
About Mallory Grimste, LCSW
Mallory Grimste, LCSW is a mental health therapist in Woodbridge, CT. She loves helping tweens, teens and young adults struggling with Anxiety (... and other Big Emotions) find what works for them. Originally a Jersey girl, she loves the beach, sunglasses and iced coffee. Her favorite coping skills are deep breathing, listening to music, and watching Scandal.
If you want to know more about Mallory, or how she helps through therapy, visit her website at http://www.mallorygrimste.com