Do you really work well when you get your work done last minute? Or, is it something that’s “worked” in the past- you got that assignment in on time after all? You may have this method down pat or you may dislike putting things off until you can’t wait any longer. Either way, this is Procrastination, the last “P” of Imposter Syndrome and it’s probably increasing your stress and affecting your overall mental health.
You probably know that Procrastination is the act of postponing doing something. In relation to Imposter Syndrome, Procrastination is this strategy to delay whatever it is you don’t feel adequate enough to perfect. On the one hand, if you give yourself more time, the Imposter in you might think that maybe you’ll be able to pull it off if you think about it long enough (Hello, Analysis Paralysis). Or, your Imposter self will use the last minute work as an excuse- “That didn’t turn out well because I rushed it” or “Their praise for this doesn’t mean anything to me because I know I rushed it and could have done better.”
Either way, when we procrastinate, our thoughts from the moment we receive a task or project to completing it are most likely not serving us. The thoughts themselves, probably add to the stress of delaying the work, too. Let’s take a closer look at some of these common Procrastination thoughts:
“I’ll have plenty of time” – More than likely, if you’ve procrastinated before, you’ve probably convinced yourself that this is a good idea. You’ve probably even had success from deferring your work before. However, this seemingly confident statement may be a way for your Imposter to disguise your insecure feelings- I’m not smart enough, creative enough, experienced enough, etc. So, the, “I’ll have plenty of time” might be false security for, “There’s never going to be enough time to prove I’m not a fraud.”
“It’s not a big deal” – Ok, sometimes it’s not. But when it is and you’re still making this claim, it’s a sign that you may be in denial that something is challenging. Underplaying something may seem like a good idea in theory- not overthinking it, not giving it too much weight. But when it’s something that warrants our attention and focus and we brush it off, it may be because we fear how much thought it needs or what it would mean to focus on it. As we avoid the work, we may be avoiding a narrative we have about ourselves.
“I need to do x before y” – Ever wash dishes, do laundry, give the dog an extra long walk before sitting down to focus on whatever it is you need to do? The excuse thought is a sneaky one because you’re probably really being really productive with other things. “I need to sit at my desk to do this but my desk is a mess and I can’t work like that, so I’m going to organize my desk but before that, my filing system needs new labels and if I’m going to do this right I need a label maker. I ordered it and it’ll be here in two days, so I’ll start then!” The bottomline, you may be justifying your procrastination with some convincing ideas, with a lot of action towards other work and a lot of inaction on the important job. It’s yet another scheme to hide behind feelings of inadequacy.
When you procrastinate, what thoughts run through your mind? Which procrastination route do you typically take? Think about a time when you overcame procrastination- what did it feel like? How were your thoughts any different?
Catherine at Revive