As we draw towards the close of the summer break and prepare to return to regular programming, most of us can scroll back through our social media feeds and see an abundance of activity highlights, special occasion celebrations, holiday snapshots and booming business updates – but one entrepreneurial mama decided this year to do something different.
Whilst for most businesses the third quarter is prime marketing time as most demographics are more optimistic, engaged, scrolling, and purchasing – Shenuma Kashta, founding director of The WOMB Network – A women’s empowerment company to support mums to Do Good, Do Well and Be Well in business, spent the summer on a complete social media hiatus. I had a chat with her to learn some of the wisdom she has gained by logging out for the summer.
Ask Yourself What’s Really Going On
So you’ve read ‘Eat That Frog’, You’ve set your Pomodoro app on your phone and you’ve slapped motivational affirmations to every wall in your office space but procrastination is still an unprogressive habit for you, Shenuma explains that you can’t change a habit until you understand it. Next time you find yourself procrastinating, stop the procrastination activity you’re doing, get up from your seat and ask yourself: “What is really going on here?”
Try to figure out if you’re simply overwhelmed by the idea of starting a task you find challenging, you simply dislike doing that particular activity, or if you’re frustrated because you have to work late — take your time to understand whatever is really behind the procrastination.
Shenuma founded The WOMB Network, a support system which empowers entrepreneur mothers to run impassioned successful businesses whilst sustaining optimal personal well-being, originally, in 2013 and rebranded and relaunched in March 2019 but she became a social entrepreneur over 10 years ago when she founded a youth development programme after becoming a teen mum. She was awarded the Millenium Parliamentary Award of Excellence for Services to the community and went on to deliver multiple high profile contracts as a public speaker and business mentor.
Since then she has been self-employed but during her recent break and feeling into her work ethic a little deeper, she has quickly realised just how much teamwork makes the dream work and has made moves towards building The WOMB Network into a workforce company as opposed to running a one-woman enterprise.
Shenuma explains that moods are indicators to let your brain know when vibes are off, by leaning into your true feelings and unpacking them you’ll quickly be on a clearer path to finding the right solution to that particular procrastination session: For example, if you absolutely can’t stand the thought of setting up multiple email series, don’t be afraid to outsource this activity in the future. Do what you love, delegate or outsource the rest.
Respect What You Expect
There’s a quote which states that “When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.” This applies to you too! Shenuma insists. As a Self Love advocate and author of the book ‘Self Love Is The Best Love’, Shenuma explains that by taking a closer look at your personality traits you can begin to understand how you do things which require a deeper understanding of you, from you. For example: Do you constantly “make” things more complex or difficult than they need to be? Do you expect the worst outcome? Do you repeatedly tell yourself “I can’t do this” forty times before you actually get started—then have trouble rushing because you started late?.
If so, do some cognitive restructuring and start giving yourself positive reinforcing messages about the task at hand. Realize that a task doesn’t always have to be the ultimate in production—it just has to get done – as a recovering perfectionist, one of Shenumas mantras is: Done Is Better Than Perfect.
There’s nothing more than motherhood to make you feel incompetent or that you’re falling short of expectations. As a mother of four Shenuma shares a helpful tip which she uses to help organise herself without adding too much pressure to her tasks – Try telling yourself: “It’s no big deal. The first step is…”—and focus only on that first step to get started.
Keep up positive reframing self-messages all through the project.
There’s No Shame In This Game
As a spiritual teacher, thought leader and CEO Shenuma’s social media sabbatical gave her time to place less focus on taking up space and become more intentional about taking her power back. Taking time for yourself allows you to hold adequate space to dive deep into whether you’ve been a procrastinator since childhood, she exclaims, and if it may have been made worse by overly-strict, authoritarian, or narcissistic parents or teachers. Procrastination can also be a type of avoidance behaviour, where those who feel habitually powerless take back personal power, but in the only way they know how —procrastination on tasks they are required to do.
Along with avoidance-based procrastination, unfortunately, goes its by-products—guilt, shame and comparison. We hear the voices of those authority figures telling us that we “blew it again”, “can’t be depended on”; even definitive statements like “you’re a complete failure” (usually followed by comparisons to a perfect sibling, cousin or neighbourhood example)—long after we’ve grown up and supposedly left all childhood voices behind.
Shenuma says guilt and shame have no place in working on becoming the person we were born to be. One good dose of shaming (especially from yourself) and you’re likely to revert to the one defence you’ve truly mastered—the mental equivalent of curling up in a fetal ball in a darkened room—procrastinate.
Learn to banish guilt by using cognitive reframing. Replace those self-lashes with phrases based solely on reality. For example, instead of saying to yourself, “I did it again. I’m a complete screw-up!” try stating just the facts. (“I spent an hour of `me’ time. Now it’s time to put that aside and go to work.”)
It feels much better when you take the blame-and-shame out of your procrastination habits, and focus on realistic solutions taking as much time as necessary to retreat, surrender and recoup.
Shenuma reminds us that the urge to procrastinate can never totally be eliminated—it does serve a purpose. It’s usually a sign something isn’t quite aligned, but we must seek to know what that purpose or reason is when you procrastinate: And know that it’s your right to develop effective strategies to totally work through it, and thrive every time.