Many strategies for combating procrastination emphasize personal self-discipline — setting timers, making to do lists, even becoming accountable to a third party such as a life coach — or affirmation-centered strategies such as making a list of one’s accomplishments or using self-hypnosis. These are all worthwhile strategies to try, and I will write about some of them in other posts (for example, see “Leveraging the Pomodoro Technique to Improve Productivity: Keeping It Simple“, which is a wonderful strategy for defeating procrastination).
Sometimes, however, a timer- or affirmation-based approach to defeating procrastination is doomed to failure because our thoughts are racing around to all the things we are worried about or all the other things that we are interested in thinking about besides what needs to be done. And where our thoughts have wandered, our energy has followed. In these cases, we may need to literally call our spirits back into our bodies and, more specifically, into the frontal lobe of the brain so that we can concentrate on the task at hand. A good way to do that is to ground, or center oneself: pull all that scattered energy back into one place. Taking time for a few deep breaths, a short meditation, or visualizing being rooted like a tree can help with this. But sometimes we need more help.
That’s when we have a choice: we can go and see a psychiatrist and be treated medically for ADD or depression or whatever other psychological issue might be interfering with our natural ability to center and focus. Or we can try nature’s pharmacy: the pharmacopia of herbs and essential oils that may not work as dramatically as drugs, but may operate more gently to bring the body back into alignment. (Essential oils typically act on the body in very gentle ways, but I’m cautioning you to take time to do your own research on particular oils and your own health conditions. Always start slowly with any herb or essential oil, taking your potential allergies and other special health conditions, such as epilepsy, into account, and checking with a doctor as needed. NEVER, EVER replace a medication you are currently taking with an herb or oil without checking with your doctor first — especially if you are taking a psychiatric medication that acts on your brain.)
If you have decided to try an aromatherapy approach, one of the best places to start is Grounding oil by Young Living (the link here takes you to my Young Living website, where you can find Grounding oil listed among my recommendations). Grounding is a mix of several oils designed to bring us out of our daydreams (or nightmares) and back to the real world so that we can walk on our path (and not merely dream about it). It contains oils of white fir, spruce, ylang ylang, pine, cedarwood, angelica, and juniper. Why so many tree oils? Of all the plants, trees are the most grounded, sending roots deep into the ground and holding steady to their purpose, in some cases, for hundreds of years. Meditating on trees, too, can help us to ground ourselves emotionally in the present time and place.
To use Grounding oil, diffuse in a diffuser, or simply apply it as perfume. Young Living recommends that you apply it to your temples or the back of your neck, while I have also had good results applying it to the center of my forehead. If the scent of the oil bothers you or those around you, another option is to apply it to the soles of your feet and put socks over it. It will still help. Or simply go easy on it, diluting the oil in a vegetable oil and using just a drop or two at a time — that’s all you will need.
Like rose quartz crystals, Grounding oil and other essential oils will act on your emotions and your energy almost immediately. Unlike herbs or drugs that must be filtered through your digestive system, aromas are inhaled and can quickly reach your brain’s limbic center, including your amygdala (which is critical to your emotional processing) and hypothalamus (which, among other things, helps to regulate the release of hormones, including stress hormones, into your body). If you hate to take medication, avoid caffeine, and need a solution that will help you to focus and dispel brain fog first thing in the morning, Grounding oil (or other similar oils) may be your go to remedy.
If you are having trouble finding Grounding oil, another option that can give you similar results is to burn a lavender-cedarwood candle in your work area. Candles made with essential oils can often be found in neighborhood pharmacies — not all of us have a Young Living distributor nearby! If you decide to try this route, however, be sure to find a candle that contains real essential oils, not just a lavender scent.
Ground and center and call back your spirit — in whatever way works best for you. You will find that this one strategy, more than any organizer or GTD system, will help you to get more done.