So, do you procrastinate?
I must say, my own answer to this is a mixed one…You see there are plenty of things I have disciplined myself to do and there are a few things I realise I have been putting off. Like, clearing out the storage cupboard!
Of course depending on how important something is, we all delay or prioritise our tasks. But if you find that procrastination is getting in the way of your important work, then read on. These 5 tips are gold! I promise they will help!
There are many reasons why we procrastinate. Most of them are a variation on“I don’t feel like it”. When you’re meant to be spending the morning writing your report, you instead work on other, easier to action tasks. You delay writing the report.
Your mind chatter goes something like this…
I don’t feel like it.
I have more urgent things to address.
It’s a big task, I don’t know where to start.
It’s going to take up too much time.
I don’t have time now.I can do it tomorrow.
Yes, tomorrow I have time.
Instant relief, you don’t have to do it today. You’ve convinced yourself that it’s not possible. You buy into your reasoning and allow yourself to relax now that that’s over, you can get on with other things.
But, the next day… the same thing happens again.
The answer lies in the reasons we give for not doing the thing we should be doing. The excuses and stories we tell ourselves provide an insight into how we can overcome procrastination.
Let’s start with one of the reasons mentioned above:I have more urgent things to address.This implies that the task you are delaying is not important or that you can’t really see, at least at this moment, why you should be doing it over something else. Herein lies the first tip to beating procrastination:
1. Make sure you know your why
If you’re not clear on why you need/want to do the task you are putting off, then it’s easy to push it down the list of things to do. Understanding the reason why the task is important and the bigger picture around it, will help you to value the task more and be less likely to delay it.
Example: Task: To go for a run
The WHY behind it: to feel good/ to be energised throughout the day/ to lose weight/ to get better so I can run the marathon etc.
Next, our reason to procrastinate was: It’s a big task
2. Reduce the commitment in your mind
Our minds will resist anything that it sees as a big task or challenge. It basically gets overwhelmed and we instinctively just want to walk away. Everyone has this built into their brains, so don’t worry, it’s not just you!
So how do we avoid going into overwhelm?
Commit to just a bit, to get you started. The idea is you tell yourself you will just do 10 minutes and that’s enough to drop your defences. You relax a little and you get started. The trick is, once you start, you keep going to the end. I’ve used this innumerable times to get me to the gym and on the treadmill. I tell myself I only have to do 15 minutes today (and not think about 45 minutes at all). But once I’m at 15 minutes, I just do another 10 minutes and so on, until the original goal is achieved.
Example: Task: To write the report
Reduce the commitment: I will just do 1 page of the report/ I will just write for half an hour.
The next reason we have is: I don’t know where to start
3. Know exactly where to start
Good, this is easy. So what do we do? We plan in advance so you know exactly where to start! The first step needs to be made as clear and easy as possible.
Example: Task: Create a FB ad
Create the place to start: Write the process to create the ad in small actionable steps
The next reason: It’s going to take up too much time.In reality, maybe it will, maybe it won’t. The key here is:
4. Don’t do the whole thing
Not to be confused with tip #2, in this case you will not aim to finish the task.You will break the task into small pieces and you will do just one piece. The smaller the better. Break your task into 20 small pieces if you like! All you have to do is complete 1 of the small pieces.
Example:Task: Paint the house
Break it down, the small pieces could be: calculate how much paint you need, decide on the colour, buy the paint and materials, schedule days in your diary to paint 1 room at a time, prep the room etc.
The next reason is the most common reason. Somehow many of us buy into it as a valid reason:I don’t feel like it.
5. Accept that you will not feel like doing it
We use this reason to not do a task because we believe on some level that “feeling like doing” something is the way it’s supposed to be. We all assume that not feeling like doing something is a sign of some sort. We use it to justify that it’s not the right time, I don’t have the right mindset, I’m not ready… Here’s the deal: You are not going to feel like doing it most of the time! If you can accept that not feeling like doing it doesn’t mean anything at all (just a human resistance to doing anything different), then you can power through it!
This is how success is created, how productivity is created, how champions are born.You do it, regardless of how you feel.
All successful people understand this principle. It’s what separates them from the pack. They are willing to do things when they don’t feel like it. Think about it.
What would your life look like if you started to do all the things you don’t feel like doing?
Yes, I know, it’d be a lot different!
The choice is yours:)
So, do you procrastinate?