Everyone procrastinates from time to time. You know you need to do something but you put it off for tomorrow although you could do it today. And you don’t mean for it to happen…but it does. And what do you do instead – scroll through social media, watch TV, take a nap, clean the house??
Just because procrastination is a common issue doesn’t mean that it isn’t a major problem. It goes beyond work, it can impact the other areas of our lives. Putting off a difficult conversation, for example, prolongs the conflict and the stress feelings of needing to have the conversation. Or not taking actions on our dreams and desires could lead to a life of disappointment. Procrastination causes feelings of unworthiness, low confidence and self-esteem, anxiety, etc. And not only that, when we procrastinate we actually deprive ourselves of the positive feelings that come with achievement and congratulating ourselves on a job well done.
What’s important to understand, is that procrastination isn’t necessarily caused by a lack of discipline, laziness or distractions. Most times we procrastinate because we want to avoid dealing with a potentially unpleasant or uncomfortable experience. Unfortunately though, this is a situation where a short term benefit (avoiding unpleasantness) leads to negative consequences long-term.
If you recognize that procrastination is a challenge for you, don’t wait to eliminate it from your life. Consider the consequences and the long-term value of the tasks you’re putting off. Also, think about what specifically you procrastinate at, instead of generalizing and labeling yourself as a procrastinator. It may be that you are only procrastinating in one area, but you are quite productive in the other.
Check out the tips below to find the perfect strategy for you to be the best former procrastinator you can be.
- Make a firm decision about how you’ll behave and find your “why” and the reason this task or project matters. Ask yourself “Why is this task important?”, “Why do I want to accomplish it?”, “What one discipline do I need to develop that would help me to achieve it?”
- Reward yourself for completing it- get yourself something small that you would really enjoy, even if it’s a hot chocolate. Or instead do the opposite and agree a particular ‘penalty’ if you don’t do it. One of my clients, a Manchester United fan, told me that every time he procrastinated on writing his report, he would actually donate £50 to Manchester City! Unusual, but it made him do the job and that’s what matters!
- Take one step at a time- if you focus on the project as a whole, it may feel overwhelming. Instead, try breaking it down into tiny chunks and keep chipping away.
- Delegate and start saying ‘No’. Remember the quote “If you want it done right, do it yourself”? It may as well say “if you want to be stressed out and procrastinate on important tasks, do it yourself”. Keep the tasks that are important to your success, but delegate the rest as and when possible.
- Make the most out of your productive hours- whether you are a morning person, an evening person or anything in between- use the hours that work best for you.
- Set a fake deadline ahead of the actual one and make yourself accountable to someone- maybe promising a portion of your final task before it’s due to someone. Or get someone to check up on you.
- Change your inner dialogue from “I have to/I should” to “I choose to/I want to”
- Start eating live frogs! Well not real ones, although they are high in protein. It’s a story that actually comes from Mark Twain who once said “If the first thing you do when you wake up is to eat a live frog, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that probably nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day”. The frog is your biggest task, the one that you are most likely to procrastinate on. And if there are two frogs looking at you, eat the ugliest first. Don’t look at it for long, don’t analyze it, just do it.
Just imagine your life after you’ve removed procrastination. You’ll find yourself full of self-confidence and more certainty than ever before. You get to wake up every day and know you won’t let anything pull you off track when it comes to your most important goals and projects.