To-Do List Weighing You Down?
"Clean out closet"
This chore stalks me. The words stare up at me from a post-it-note on my desk. It chants at me as a reminder on my phone. I even feel it as I wrestle with hangers and piles of shoes as I get ready each morning.
So why can’t I just do it?
There are many reasons why we procrastinate—fear of failure, indecisiveness, the task is difficult or dreaded—but putting things off can be detrimental to our health and contribute to higher levels of stress and anxiety. As William James said, “nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.”
Some researchers believe that procrastinators have a problem with self-regulation, which is one of the character strengths measured by the VIA Survey, and deals with the ability to manage emotions, behaviors and motivation without outside help. (Sign in here to see where self-regulation is in your Strengths Profile).
However, another perspective to consider, and one that we can all use to overcome procrastination, is from a value standpoint. Where do you place value and how can you shift more value to the items forever stuck on your To-Do list?
After you complete the VIA Survey you are presented with a list of your character strengths in rank order. The character strengths at the top of your profile are your internal motivators. They are the personality traits that reflect what you value and embrace at your core. Therefore, your secret weapon against the lure of procrastination is:
- Create a plan to infuse your top strengths (your internal drivers) into your dreaded tasks
To help me strategize ways to do this for my "clean out closet" task I enlisted help from VIA’s Education Director, Dr. Ryan Niemiec. Dr. Niemiec regularly schedules 1-on-1 coaching sessions to help people apply their strengths to their life and work so I knew he’d provide good advice (to sign up for a 1-on-1 coaching session click here). It only took a few minutes for us to review my top strengths and see the synergies. We talked about using my strength of teamwork and inviting my mom and sister over to help me get organized. Immediately, my apprehension about the project subsided and I started to look forward to an afternoon with my favorite people. When I explained to Ryan that I’d be donating and selling my old clothes he pointed out the strengths of kindness and prudence at work. I had not thought of it that way! Again, when using a strengths lens and realizing that completing the task would earn me a little money AND help others I was energized to get started. In the end, Ryan helped me discover that aligning the task with my core values made it important to me and exciting so it was something I was willing to prioritize above other activities.
It’s not always easy to make these connections on your own. That’s why we created the online, on-demand course, Creating a Strength Based Life. This training gives you strategies to help you see strengths in yourself and others and find more ways to apply them to your life. Everyone that registers for the course automatically receives a one-on-one coaching session with a VIA strengths expert so you can receive customized feedback on how your specific strengths can benefit you. Get started immediately by registering below.
Take Our Most Popular Course... in Half the Time
Each year we offer Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice (MBSP), a live, interactive 8-week course, that allows individuals to experience and discuss their strengths using mindfulness activities and strategies. The demand for this course is always high, selling out every session, so we decided to offer an abridged version of the course this August!
Registration for Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice- Intensive is now open! MBSP-int has all of the core content and core exercises of MBSP so you will still receive all of the powerful experiences and informative curriculum. We are able to deliver this version of the course in 4 weeks instead of 8 weeks because we removed the breakout small group work. But, don't worry! You will still have plenty of opportunities to share experiences live and ask questions. Don't miss your last chance this year to experience MBSP! Learn more and register here.