It creates enormous mental anguish and stress. It keeps us awake at night. It overwhelms us with a sense of powerlessness and hopelessness. It can even send us into depression. When we realise the impact of procrastination on our lives and make a decision to procrastinate no longer, most people experience a great sense of relief.
We can feel empowered by our decision. We actually complete in record time what we have put off for so long. We become energised again, positive and proactive.
Most importantly, we have a great sense of control over our lives. The satisfaction in taking action on something we have wanted to achieve for some time is considerable.
How Do You Make Procrastination A Thing Of The Past?
- Discover what motivates your procrastination in various situations. Do any of the situations mentioned above fit your experience? Doing this as a first step will give you a better understanding of yourself, develop your self-awareness. You can then work on that part of yourself that is getting in the way of your success and happiness.
- Do not just go after strategies and tips you can use to stop procrastinating. These are measures that only work in the short term. You want to change what’s operating below the surface for you that sends you into this procrastinating space.
- Make an empowered decision to change and commit to it. Remind yourself of the consequences for your life if you don’t do something about this.
- Take charge of the distractions you commonly use to put off doing what you need to be doing. Cage your favourites so they don’t interfere with your productivity.
- Just DO it. It is absolutely what you have to do. When we allow ourselves to discuss in our heads whether we should do it or not, we are back in that procrastinating place. We have to stop thinking and feeding our thoughts. Just begin and do one thing, then when you have finished that do one more thing. Remember one day at a time. Here it is one thing at a time.
- Change your language and self-talk. Get rid of the “I must… “, “I should… ” ” I ought to… ” “I have to… ” Change it to “I want to… ” I can”, “I am going to”, “I will”. Remove “I can’t” from your memory. Replace the negative self talk with positive and empowering self talk and scripts – “I can do this.” “I am going to take one step at a time and not try and achieve everything at once. I am not going to let anything stand in my way”.
- Write down all your answers to that question and you will have a personal development plan for what you need to do to stop procrastinating.
- Work out whether this thing I “have” to do is important or not. Do not sweat over something that you think you “should” be doing when deep down inside it is not even important to you. Give yourself permission to dump it, remove it from your “To Do” list.
- Use a project management approach to manage projects, jobs or situations that appear overwhelming. Break every job/activity down into bite size pieces. Detail each step and better still put a deadline beside each step.
- If you have a significant amount of time to do the project, make sure you do one part of it every day. It is much easier to motivate yourself that way and with every piece out of the way, you become progressively more positive and optimistic about it and about yourself and your ability to get things done. You experience momentum.
- Do what you do not really want to do, or the thing you are procrastinating about, first thing in the day. As Brian Tracy says: Eat the frog. If that is the worst thing you have to do all day, it is over early. The rest of the day becomes a breeze firstly because you are no longer under pressure with that job and secondly because you are feeling so empowered by having done it.
- Get an Accountability or Performance Partner. This is a colleague who knows what you are trying to achieve and holds you accountable. It may be a reciprocal relationship where you hold each other accountable. It is well-known that when we tell someone else our goals, we are more likely to keep them. It may be a mentoring relationship where you engage a mentor, but the key role of that person is to keep you accountable for what you decide to do.
- Reward yourself when you complete something you have procrastinated about in the past. Push yourself to stay focused, absolutely stick at it, knowing that when you are finished, you are going to go out for a coffee or a wine with a friend. Or you are going to take the next morning off and relax, sleep in or read a book or walk the beach.
Take Control of Procrastination or Be Controlled By It.
Some people do their best work when they leave things to last minute. They work better when they have a deadline. This doesn’t mean they are procrastinating.
This is why it is important to understand your motivation.
Some people consciously leave things to the last minute because they know that is how they produce their best work in an energised and empowered way. There is a difference between that way of working and procrastinating which is irrational, self-limiting and stressful and emerges as a weakness. The former is conscious, appropriate and part of a plan or strategy that draws on your strengths.