(Day 3 of 3) The Cure for Procrastination: Treating Work Like Play…

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Dearest Reach-for-the-Stars Subscriber,

As we start turning out minds and hearts towards the task of setting our goals and resolutions for 2018, I invite you to day three of our exploration of procrastination.

The major insight we have gained so far:

It used to be that psychologists thought people who procrastinate have a faulty sense of time, but recent research suggests procrastination is linked to emotional regulation.

On day one, we explored forgiveness and self-compassion as the first of three useful approaches to counteracting the negative effects of procrastination.

On day two, we examined a few different tips for breaking up large, overwhelming tasks into bite-sized portions.

Today, I would like to explore ‘treating work like play’ as a way to avoid procrastination, and its ill effects. 

Treating Work Like Play…

Chronic procrastinators have perpetual problems finishing tasks, while situational ones delay based on the task itself;  that is, when people view a task in an unpleasant manner (“It will be tough, boring, painful…”), they are more likely to put it off.

Research suggests adding a touch of playfulness to the task, may be just the ticket.

For example, Tice and Ferrari (2000) teamed up to do a study that put the ill effects of procrastination into context. They brought students into a lab and told them at the end of the session they’d be engaging in a math puzzle. Some were told the task was a meaningful test of their cognitive abilities, while others were told that it was designed to be meaningless and fun.

Before doing the puzzle, the students had an interim period during which they could prepare for the task or mess around with games, like Tetris.

And guess what happened?

Chronic procrastinators only delayed practice on the puzzle when it was described as a cognitive evaluation.

When it was described as fun, they behaved no differently from non-procrastinators!

Anything you enjoy, you’re naturally going to do a better job with and give more of yourself to. So, making your tasks are something you look forward to, rather than simply a responsibility, is essential.

Sometimes its hard to find enjoyment in our work, however. Even if we enjoy the interactions with our clients, the bureaucracy of the agency we work for might be toxic, or there may be that one supervisor that seems to have it in for you.

Here are few small, practical suggestions to help make these situations more enjoyable…

1. Create a communal ritual. 

In my first hospital job, everyone started out hating rounds and staring at the clock until it was over. Then a new unit chief was hired, and suggested that twice a month we would do a potluck brunch, during rounds, on Fridays.

At first, most people were lazy and there would be 5 boxes of munchkins on the table. Over time, however, people started bringing in their secret recipes and traditional family foods. And opened up about the stories behind them.

The boost to morale was phenomenal!

There was a lot more laughter and light-heartedness amongst the staff, and even though rounds would go an extra hour long, the work flow actually became more efficient and productive.

2. Make gift giving a regular thing.

This doesn’t have to be extravagant.

At one of my jobs working at a brain research and diagnostic facility, I shared a similar taste for dark chocolate with my clinic supervisor and front office manager.

The facility looked down upon sugary foods, however, because it promoted a particular kind of diet to support brain health.

Fair enough…but we still liked dark chocolate!

So, every so often one of us would leave a surprise chocolate stuffed in a desk drawer or hidden behind the computer screen with a little note of appreciation.

It would always make me feel good to both give and receive those sweet treats!

3. Bedazzle your workspace. 

And by ‘bedazzle’ I mean glue rhinestones to the walls (or cubicle partitions) in snowflake patterns…

Just kidding! (…or not.)

Decorate your work space so that its a place you enjoy being. Pin up motivational quotes, pictures of tropical beaches, art work, or maybe a photo of your pet.

You might even keep any cards, thank you notes, or email from clients or coworkers that made you smile (HIPPA compliant, of course).

Above my desk, I have a “The Doers Manifesto” and this always keeps me motivated and on task.

4. Radically change your attitude towards “work,” even if it means leaving your job.

The biggest thing I did to turn my struggle with procrastination around,  was leave the-nine-to-five and go into business for myself.

Since then, I’ve never “worked” a day again.

It actually makes you sound super boring when someone asks you, “What do you do for fun?”

And you honestly have to say, “My job.”

The other night, I was on a first date, actually, and the gentleman seemed surprised by my answer. He then asked me to expand on it.

I was delighted to.

Fifteen minutes later, when I finally stopped waving my hands around and decided to take a breath, he asked, “So…does this ever turn off?”

Apparently he wasn’t QUITE as enthralled by the connections between successful sales funnels and chakra energies.

I have a lot of control over my time.  I can work on a thing for an hour or two and if I get tired of it, I can move onto another thing.

I have actually built into my schedule time broken up into little bite sized portions.

Here’s a glimpse of my schedule…

  • Mondays I do all the preparatory and maintenance work for my online school, CreativeArtsTherapiesOnline.com. 
  • Tuesdays I have group supervision, and commit myself to new consultations or my own professional development.
  • Wednesdays, I dedicate the entire day to teaching at Pratt Institute.
  • Thursdays, I dedicate the entire day to private practice and seeing individual clients.
  • Fridays are all remote sessions, whether it is psycho-educational coaching, coaching the trainees in my ABUNDANT HEALER program, or new consultations.

I am NEVER bored.

Admittedly, sometimes I bite off more than I can chew. But its like…

You know when you have a good workout, and your muscles feel a bit sore for a couple days after?

But you don’t really mind. And if you complain about it, its really more like bragging,  because its proof that you accomplished something.

I had a gym instructor once say to me, “pain is just fear leaving the body.”


It’s like that.

Everyday, even if its a long one, feels more and more like fear taking its leave.

So, as you creep towards 2018  and start to consider those oh-so-important New Year’s resolutions, consider these tips to help you stay on track!

Furthermore, I encourage you to check out the amazing discounted offers and FREE trainings I have below, to help expand your horizons and make AMAZING and GROUNDBREAKING changes in your life, in 2018.

As always feel free to replay with questions, comments, concerns, and high fives!





Hope to see you there!

Warmest regards,

Briana MacWilliam




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