Working with Your Procrastinator and Taskmaster

Are you a Procrastinator?

If you are one of the many people who struggle with procrastination, it means that there is a part of you that wants to avoid a certain task. This Procrastinator Part is a protector, but you may not be consciously aware of it.

Therefore, the first step in doing IFS on procrastination is to discover this part and access it (see Chapter 4 in Self-Therapy).

Here is one way to do this. Remember what it feels like when you are procrastinating. I don’t mean what you feel when you realize that you have been procrastinating. That usually comes a different part—a part that is upset with you for procrastinating. I am referring to the feelings you have when you are avoiding a task—when you are getting distracted, doing non-essential tasks, putting off the important task, or feeling stuck and unable to get started.

The Procrastinator

 

Tune into that experience of avoidance. You may feel an emotion, an impulse, a fear, or a sense of wanting to avoid. Notice what this feels like in your body. Get a sense of the part of you that is avoiding; you might see an image of that part.

You work on this part just the way you would work on any other protector in IFS. First you unblend from it if necessary (Chapter 5 in Self-Therapy). Then you unblend from any concerned parts (Chapter 6 in Self-Therapy). It can get dicey during this step, so let me explain further. When you check to see how you feel toward the Procrastination Part, you may realize that you are judging the Procrastination Part and wanting to get rid of it.

This indicates that you are blended with a type of part that I call the Taskmaster, which may be angry at you (and specifically at your Procrastinator) for procrastinating. The Taskmaster is a type of Inner Critic that pushes you to work hard and judges you if you don’t. When you are procrastinating, your Taskmaster will work very hard to overcome the Procrastination and get you to take action.

The Taskmaster

 

You can ask the Taskmaster to step aside, but it may not be willing to do so if it is strongly polarized with the Procrastinator.

These parts may be fighting over taking action. Not only is the Taskmaster probably feeling angry and judgmental toward the Procrastinator, but the Procrastinator may be rebelling against your Taskmaster. It may be saying,

“Don’t tell me what to do! You push me so hard to work all the time that you make my life miserable. So I have to fight back just to get some space to relax and enjoy life. Leave me alone!”

You may have to work through this polarization in addition to working on your Procrastination Part.

Self-Therapy A Step-by-Step