You make a commitment to do something or you have something that has to be done, but you put it off because you just don’t FEEL like doing it. Yep, me too.
It doesn’t seem to matter that I know all the strategies about overcoming procrastination. Knowing this doesn’t make me immune to having moments of “I’ll do it later” or “When I’m in the mood”. You see sometimes we think that if we wait long enough, we will be struck by the inspiration fairy or we will suddenly be in the perfect mood.
Procrastination is one of the biggest complaints that I hear about, from my clients and just about everyone else I know. It can be over many things – getting your tax return done, completing a report, cleaning the house, exercising you name it – if it exists, we can procrastinate about it.
Procrastination is a problem for a number of reasons:
So it’s not something we want to have to deal with, yet it comes up time and again. So what’s it about?
Basically procrastination is a type of avoidance behaviour. We humans tend to move away from or avoid things that we think will be painful or make us feel uncomfortable or anxious. Notice I said we think it will make us feel that way. Inevitably we find that when we actually get things done, it was never so bad as we thought it was going to be. Have you noticed that?
So rather than getting caught up in the why of procrastination (which can be a form of procrastination itself), let’s look at my top 5 tips to overcome that procrastination monster that lives inside of each of us.
Top 5 Tips to Overcome Procrastination
1. Take action now!
Taking even the smallest action, for example reading an email, making a phone call, toward the goal or task now will give you a boost of energy. Action is the antidote to procrastination. When you feel overwhelmed, ask yourself, “what is the first step forward?”, just one small thing and do it. Notice how it gives you a little boost.
2. Move past the excuses.
We all have a million excuses and reasons about why we are procrastinating. These are just distractions or red herrings that we get caught up in and it takes us off our path. Imagine your excuses are like clouds drifting across the sky, you can see them but you can’t hold onto them. They are a backdrop to your life rather than the main event.
3. Get support
Tell a friend or colleague what you are trying to do and set up a system where you check in when you have accomplished a step or completed the task. Maybe set up a buddy system if they want also want support on with procrastination.
4. Write it down
Be clear and write down what you need to do and by when. If its not written down and with a timeframe, it tends not to happen. Use eminders to prompt you eg: a picture or list on the fridge, a reminder message in your phone.
5. Link it to your bigger picture
Tasks that are connected to a bigger vision or image for your life or your purpose have more meaning. If being a parent is important to you, then linking doing your tax return to your vision of being a responsible loving parent gives its a greater meaning and purpose in your life which makes it about so much more than just a task or a chore.
Try these and see if it makes a difference. You may want to use one or all of them at various times. I’d love to hear about your results.