What type of procrastinator are you?
Making time and procrastination were two of my biggest challenges when I had my clutter challenge.
I procrastinated with dealing my clutter for 3 years before I finally faced up to it and dealt with it.
Like many clutterholics, I tried to convince myself that my problem was not enough time.
When the weekend blitz's didn't work I gave up making time to do my decluttering, and procrastination set in.
When I took days off work to do my decluttering I usually found something more interesting to do or got distracted by what I found in my clutter - otherwise known as procrastination.
I made excuses that I didn't have enough time to do my decluttering, when in fact I was overwhelmed, didn't know where to start and didn't know what to do when I did have some time to do it.
When my 'making time' challenge turned into procrastination, I told myself it was because I couldn't make a decision.
It wasn't until I quit my job an spent a year modelling naturally clutter free and organised people that I discovered the Clutter Clearing Process and learnt that you can do too much at once, that it's better to take one small step in the right direction than try to blitz the clutter in a day or two, and that your brain needs time to make decisions and learn how to keep your home clutter free.
Imagine that - I made more progress doing 2 hours a day, and I could maintain whatever I cleared than if I spent a whole day having a blitz.
If you struggle with making time or procrastination then take comfort that you are not alone.
According to an article in Scientific American Mind in January 2011:
15 – 20% of adults ‘routinely put off activities that would be better accomplished ASAP, which has resulted in 40% of those adults having experienced a financial loss because of procrastination.'
If you've ever had an unpaid bill, lost a new credit or debit card amongst the clutter, not filed your tax return on time, not paid in a share dividend or cheque because you lost it in the clutter, had to buy more of something because you can't find the one you know you've got 'somewhere' in your clutter, then you'll be able to relate to this research.
Is it any wonder with these types of research that we procrastinate over doing the clutter clearing sessions we know we need to do it if we want to clear our clutter?
We all have a limited amount of hours in the day - we all have 24 hours.
No one yet has the power to create more time, all we can do is use the time we have more effectively.
That's why I use the phrase 'making time' (rather than 'making time') because it infers that we have a choice about what to do with those 24 hours we have in any one day.
This struggle to make time is probably fueling your procrastination, leading to you feeling the need to be ruthless with your decision making so it 'just gets done', and feeling out of control of your clutter.
If you are a procrastinator, then there are 7 things that you need to know before starting to deal with it.
1. There's more than one flavour of procrastination.
People procrastinate for different reasons.
There are three basic types of procrastinators:
arousal types, or thrill-seekers, who wait to the last minute for the euphoric rush
avoiders, who may be avoiding fear of failure or even fear of success, but in either case are very concerned with what others think of them, they would rather have others think they lack effort than ability
decisional procrastinators, who cannot make a decision. Not making a decision absolves procrastinators of responsibility for the outcome of events.
Arousal declutterers have blitz's and get someone in to help them for a day or two.
My clients are all avoiders or decisional types because the regular, weekly, habit creation approach doesn't have a 'last minute' element to it.
2. Procrastination is not a problem of time management or of planning.
Procrastinators are not different in their ability to estimate time, although they are more optimistic than others.
This is why many people with clutter optimistically think that it will only take a day or two to clear and organise their clutter if they have help to have a blitz, and they mistakenly believe that once they've got it cleared quickly they can maintain it thereafter, which isn't the case.
The more you try to do in one go, the longer you'll procrastinate about doing some more.
That's why using the Clutter Clearing Process involves only 2 hours a week to make sure that you do a little and often to slowly and surely make progress.
My clients and members have proved that doing your Clutter Clearing with others - even if you're not face-to-face or in the same physical place - makes it easier to get on and do something.
That's why many of my clients and members have been super organised and efficient at work (where they're doing things with other people), yet don't seem to be able to deal with the clutter at home (where they are only accountable to themselves).
3. Procrastinators are made not born.
Procrastination is learned in the family environment, but not directly.
It can be a response to an authoritarian parenting style.
Procrastination can even be a form of rebellion and so procrastinators turn more to friends than to family for support.
Their friends may reinforce procrastination because they tend to be tolerant and understanding of their excuses.
This is why having friends and family 'help' you declutter rarely works, because they are more tolerant, understanding or forgiving.
It's also why independent accountability works for my clients because if they choose to procrastinate they have a financial consequence.
4. Procrastinators tell lies to themselves.
"I'll feel more like doing this tomorrow."
"I work best under pressure."
But in fact they do not get the urge the next day or work best under pressure.
In addition, they protect their sense of self by saying
"this isn't important."
Another big lie procrastinators indulge is that time pressure makes them more creative.
Unfortunately they do not turn out to be more creative; they only feel that way.
They squander their resources.
This is why all Clutter College Course Classes are on the same day at the same time every week.
5. Procrastinators actively look for distractions, particularly ones that don't take a lot of commitment on their part.
Checking e-mail, surfing the internet, going on facebook or twitter, watching TV, reading magazines or brochures, shopping, answering the telephone, sending texts, doing something for the children (that doesn't need doing or could wait) are almost perfect for this purpose.
They distract themselves as a way of regulating their emotions such as fear of failure.
If I work with someone by going to their home, I often become their distraction because clients want to chat and share the story behind the belongings.
That's part of the reason why I rarely go to people's homes. They don't need me there, I can give the advice over the telephone, skype or in a class.
6. There are big costs to procrastination.
Health is one.
Just over the course of a single academic term, procrastinating college students had such evidence of compromised immune systems as more colds and flu, more gastrointestinal problems.
And they had insomnia.
In addition, procrastination has a high cost to others as well as oneself; it shifts the burden of responsibilities onto others, who become resentful.
Procrastination destroys teamwork in the workplace and private relationships.
I have many clients who seek help as a result of threats of divorce.
I have had clients who actually fear succeeding because they subconsciously know that there will be a cost / change to their relationship with others in the home. Although they may feel better and happier in a clutter free home, others would not 'recognise them' or be able to put them down because of their clutter.
I have had clients who procrastinate in doing their Clutter Clearing because subconsciously they are scared of moving on with their life, of having the life they want so better to stay as they are which is safe and familiar i.e. their identity is as 'the cluttered one' and changing your identity is scary and potentially dangerous.
I have had several women who have had social services threaten to take away their children if they don't deal with their clutter.
My hoarders have all experienced a fire, trip or fall that ended in them having to go to hospital or mice infestation as a result of their clutter.
I have also had clients who have measurably slept better, lowered their blood pressure, lost some excess weight, alleviated their symptoms of depression during their Clutter Clearing Journey.
7. Procrastinators can change their behaviour -
- but doing so consumes a lot of energy. It can be done with highly structured cognitive behavioral therapy.
Clutter Clearing Journeys are a form of structured cognitive behavioral therapy.
Procrastinators need the structure, accountability and 12 week commitment of the Clutter College Courses to reach a point where they see and feel the benefits.
If you're a procrastinator and you are determined to deal with your Clutter Challenge by clearing the backlog and creating the habits you need to control and maintain a clutter free home, then know that you CAN succeed if you are prepared to commit to at least half a day of Clutter Clearing each and every week - either privately or as part of a group.