I never finish anythi..

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Does it ring any bell?

Personally it takes me back 5 years ago, when I had presented this seminar back in Greece, as part of the Continuing Education, at the American College of Greece. And I must admit, that it was a big success! Do you know why? Because this is a very familiar issue for many people, regardless of gender, social, cultural or professional background. I will never forget two examples I had heard back then. I had met a lady who had never managed to replace her broken down fridge for years; instead she had decided to use it as a storage space! And I had met another lady who had been unemployed for a  long time, but she had never managed to get herself motivated enough to go and buy a newspaper and see what was available… For both cases, procrastination seemed like the only way forward…

However could procrastination be useful sometimes? All human strategies for coping with life evolve to preserve us, so sometimes we really do need to put things off. Taking a break, relaxing, having a snooze, not doing something is an essential way to stay sane. But when procrastination becomes an unconscious, automatic response that determines every aspect of our life, then it can be quite tricky! Remember you don’t have to avoid it until you require surgery…

A very straightforward way to check whether you are on top of things or whether procrastination is the only way forward for you is to tell from your outcome. If you procrastinate, you tend to be left with a sense of incompleteness, you can feel restless, unsatisfied, maybe vaguely guilty, and tired without feeling you have necessarily expended a lot of energy. You know that a part of you is “otherwise engaged” with the thing that you are putting off, and not really available to enjoy and get on with life. On the contrary, when you have completed the thing,  you then feel satisfied. Worn out maybe, but refreshingly so! This is the huge difference!

This is why I have included a questionnaire (found in Andrea’s Perry Book, on “Isn’t it about time? How to stop putting things off… and get on with your life”, 2002, Worth Publishing) which you can answer to get a better idea about you and procrastination…

1) You have clothes in your wardrobe which you never wear because they need to go to the dry cleaners, a button is missing, or some stitching has come apart

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

2) You haven’t written your Will, or the one you have written is well out of date

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

3) You often have rather empty weekend, because you don’t get around to planning anything interesting, fun or special

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

4) If you have to write something, an official letter, report or essay, or fill in a form, you often leave it until the last minute

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

5) You rarely finish all the items on your To Do List

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

6) You can’t remember the last time you woke up feeling really refreshed

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

7) If you have something difficult to say to someone, you wait until the person is in a good mood

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

8) As a child you used to use magic words to keep yourself or other people safe

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

9) Your partner, children or employees seem to have problems with procrastination

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

10) You hardly ever  open official mail the moment you pick it up off the door mat

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

11) If you won the lottery, you’d change your life completely

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

12) You’ve been described as “living on another planet”

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

13) You know that you’re good at what you do, but you find it very hard to promote yourself

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

14) Υοu often hear of ideas that you’ve had being developed and made successful by other people

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

15) You feel guilty if you are not on the go all the time

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

16) As a child, you used to sulk

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

17) You find it hard to watch horour or suspense movies, as the images keep you awake or disturbed long after watching them

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

18) You feel bogged down by the amount of paperwork in your life

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

19) You wish you were better informed about world affairs

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

20) If someone saw inside your handbag, briefcase, attic or kitchen drawers right now, you’d be horrified

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

21) Υοu often feel uncertain over whether you should walk away from situations, decisions and people which make you feel uncomfortable, or whether you should stay and try to change things

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

22) You have a burning, possibly secret ambition, which you never seem to find time to prioritise

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

23) You keep text books from college for years “just in case” you need to refer to them

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

24) You rarely experience whole-hearted satisfaction, because completion is so hard for you

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

25) Your New Year Resolutions are pretty much the same every year

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

26) You can’t remember the last time you had a holiday

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

27) You often miss people’s birthdays, anniversaries, or life-events, and special occassions, or forget what family members have asked you to do

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

28) You have a lot of sports equipment, cds for learning foreign languages, diet or recipe books which you’ve barely used

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

29) There was a lot tension in your first home, and your parents rarely had full-on, air clearing, love restoring rows

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

30) Often when you finish something difficult, you wonder why it took you so long

True_________ False________ Neither completely True or False ____________

Total of TRUE responses

1-10: Congratulations – you are obviously used to being highly effective. But if you’ve answered TRUE to questions 3, 6, 15 or 26, it seems like you may be putting off having a rest!

11-20: Although you can be effective, understanding when and what you tend to put off will help you identify what you need to do in order to move forward. You probably realise how much life you are missing. Make one tiny change today and build up your resources.

21-30: Please ask for some professional help and support or find a good friend to support you on the way . You deserve to enjoy the time of your life!

 

Eva Lychrou is a psychotherapist based in London and in Athens, helping people deal with family issues, relationship difficulties and self development in general.

For further information

www.evanthialychrou.com

e:info@evanthialychrou.com

t: 08002 494930

m:+44 (0) 7591916146/ +30 6977 387722

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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