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  • Writer's pictureThuy Truong, M.A. Ed.

Conquer Procrastination Paralysis: An Executive Function Power Skill

| by Thuy Truong, M.A. Ed., TPT Teaching and Coaching, 6/23/2021|

You know you should be tackling your to-do list, but you are entranced by that YouTube clip or an enticing show on Netflix. You know you should be doing your assigned reading, but you find yourself cleaning away instead. You know you should start that school project; however, you have landed on Facebook and made plans to hang out with friends instead. If these scenarios sound familiar to you or someone you know, then do know it is called procrastination paralysis. It means one is stuck in limbo mode in productivity land because one does not have a firm task initiation plan. The more one procrastinates, the more anxiety one generates, then it leads to more procrastination until the vicious cycle invites you to an unescapable deadline that often requires an all nighter or something close to it. Good news: There is a way out! There are three classic, sequential steps to cut through this stress.

1. Catch Yourself

Self-awareness is vitally important to enhancing a healthy mindset in order to maximize daily productivity. Keep track of your mental patterns and triggers, then find healthy and creative ways to mitigate your mental habits. You can allot 10 minutes nightly to record your day, what went well, what did not go well. Reflect on what you may do differently next time to actively control your triggers in order to recalibrate your mindset and stabilize your mood. You may look back at your journal entries at the end of each week to see emerging patterns and start making a better plan for the following week to protect your energy and productivity. There is no one-size solution that fits all because everyone is triggered in different ways emotionally by different things, but self-analysis is a step closer to finding a personalized solution that will bring you greater personal and professional success.

2. Transform Your Thinking

Once you can catch yourself, you can change the self-regulation game by transforming it. Our thoughts make the world. Positive self-dialogue is a powerful tool to instantly uplift your mood and sharpen your perception. When you catch yourself mentally saying "I don't feel like it" or "This is not exciting enough." You can transform that negative thinking to "I will feel better once I get started. Or, "It's kind of exciting to unveil my hidden talents by giving it a go regardless of how I feel." Or, "I have nothing to lose since it is about progress not perfection." We often think of success as something looming and large and results must be instant. In reality, success often happens in small doses because it often takes time. It is more about the vast possibilities that come by taking many small steps. Over time, those small acts of bravery will expand into something we call big success. However, you will never know unless you start. Just start every chance you get.

3. Nail The Next Step

What is at the root of procrastination? It is rooted in over-thinking. Over-thinking is a mental pool of mostly irrational fears and what ifs that do not accurately reflect reality. Yet, it consumes our thoughts and time. Instead of taking action, we hand over our power to irrational fears and that spirals out to endless forms of escapism that do not lead us closer to our realistic goals, so the solution is to make an actionable plan and focus on JUST the next step, but one step at a time. By choosing to take the next step and doing it well, you will save time and eliminate stress. Do not let your thoughts hold you hostage from moving forward with meaningful goals and aspirations. Just complete the next step in your project or homework and you will get yourself unstuck for good. So your next step could be to preview your assignment or complete reading the directions or just set out your school materials on the table. Remember: You cannot lose if you take the next step.

The first step to resolving any challenges is acknowledgement. It is the beautiful beginning of a solution. The three steps above are about having a toolkit to train your mental habits and take back your power. A negative thought cannot claim you or your life, unless you let it. Consider trying the above strategies and revise your mental process to meet your goals, lifestyle, and taste without reducing its purpose or meaning. Experience your own creativity by trying out the strategies' versatility. Take back your power today!


Thuy Truong, M.A. Ed.

I am a licensed professional educator, executive function expert, former tenured high school teacher and college instructor with 16 years experience. I am also a student success designer. I enjoy recognizing the missing puzzle in the student's learning and personalizing that solution in a language that is unique to that student. I love the creative challenge of inventing a new language for every child.

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