I’ve reached peak project as indicated by worry procrastination

I recently spent some time updating content on this website.

I wanted to provide basic descriptions of the main things that I am involved with.

Whilst it was primarily an exercise in updating my website, it did highlight the number of things I am doing at the moment.

I’ve always been a ‘project’ person. I like to have multiple projects on the go at any time. One of the advantages(?) of not having kids is that I have the time to allocate to more projects.

Those can be work projects or hobbies. If it is a weekday, you’ll probably find me engaged in psychology related projects. If it is the weekend or holidays, you are more likely to find me in the garden or playing guitar or mucking around with building/upgrading computers.

Having multiple projects does provide psychological richness in my life which may be a basis for wellbeing. But it also comes at some costs. For example, I have a tendency to neglect relationships and people-focused activities. I also have a tendency to experience anxiety about how fast (or more correctly, slowly) each of those individual projects is progressing.

Having decided that I am not yet ready to abandon any projects, I am instead starting to look for inefficiencies in how I go about each of those projects.

When we’ve been doing something for a while, we can easily fall into patterns of thinking/action that aren’t optimal. One of the patterns I’ve noticed that I fall into is what I might call ‘worry procrastination’.

Worry procrastination is where we allocate our time to worrying about a project, rather than taking a small meaningful step towards advancing that project. We might even engage in a range of activities in relation to that worry. For example, I spend more time worrying about the VMH website than I do updating it. I even found myself preparing an extensive document on ‘what needed to change’ about the website, rather than simply addressing that I was worried about the site because there wasn’t anything new on it for a while.

Worry can feel like work, so in some ways we trick our minds into thinking that we are ‘working on a project’ when in fact, we are really just channeling energy into anxiety and pretending it will have a meaningful impact on the end outcome.

Really, the challenge is to notice and sit with that worry, whilst simultaneously taking a few small steps to progress the project in meaningful ways. The worry is a good reminder to pay attention to the project, but it isn’t a good guide on what action to take. Instead, we need to ask ourselves what a meaningful next step for the project would be and keep scaling that back until we find a task we can complete whilst worried.

So instead of writing a big document on changes that are required for the VMH website, I just need to pop into the program that my web designer uses to track changes and request a few small site upgrades. When that is actioned, I can move to the next thing.

If you find yourself worried and anxious about a project, but not really making any meaningful progress on it, ask yourself if the worry itself is acting as a form of procrastination.

If it does appear to be, then you may need to make room for that worry, whilst focusing your attention instead on what would be an achievable small step to take towards progressing that project RIGHT NOW and focusing on that instead.

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