Procrastination: Putting off activities that were planned or scheduled, for activities that are of a lesser importance.
I work with some really amazing people; highly successful, determined, creative. Amazing. And they all have something in common. They all procrastinate to some degree or another– some mildly some chronically. The problem is so wide that many researchers believe procrastination has more than quadrupled in the last 30 years (Steele, 2007). And, as if that statistics isn’t scary enough, it’s also said procrastinators eat poorly, sleep less and drink more.
And the result is the same, no matter who you are — procrastination keeps you stuck.
So why do we procrastinate? There are so many varied reasons, but in my clients I see several themes.
- The task or project seems too overwhelming.
- They fear not knowing what to do next.
- They’re not truly committed to the project or task.
- They fear failure.
- They fear success.
I could go into all of the psychological reasons why we procrastinate, but that is a paper for anther day.
What’s been particularly helpful to my clients is first admitting they’re procrastinating. And lets be honest, if you’re anything like me – you know when you’re procrastinating. Procrastination may look like playing idle computer games for hours on end, making unnecessary phone calls, checking your email every 5 minutes. For me it’s filing. When I start filing, I know I’ve hit the procrastination rock-bottom (primarily because I pay someone to come in and do that for me!).
To help alleviate the inclination to procrastinate, it’s good to have some strategies in your back pocket. What I like about the strategies I’ve picked, is that they are a combination of reflection and immediate action. To be balanced you need both!
Focus on ONE task at a time. This strategy is very helpful for those big projects and tasks that seem too big to get your head around. You start by thinking of the project as a whole and then ask yourself what action can I take right now that will help move me forwards? Then, you dedicate a certain amount of time to that task. You may want to set a timer if that’s helpful. I like to work in chunks of 30 minutes. I think you will be amazed at what you can accomplish if you focus your attention on one thing for a specific period of time.
5 for today This strategy was developed by Jack Canfield and introduced in his book The Success Principles. It makes planning really easy and it’s very simple. Every day you sit down, think about a specific task, project or even your overall goals, and then you come up with five things that will move you closer to completion. Then, you do those 5 things. That’s it! When those 5 things are done, you can think of another 5! Imaging the momentum you can acheive using this strategy!
Just do it – When you’re feeling overwhelmed, and taking action is the furthest thing from your mind, sometimes you just have to follow the old Nike adage and “Just Do It. This strategy asks you to take one step – any step– towards your goals. Is it a phone call? Writing a proposal? Scheduling a meeting? Whatever it is, Just Do It! That one action will typically lead to another, and another, and another. And before you know it you’re on a roll!
Visual Aid: For those of you who are more visual, I’m a huge proponent of visual aids to help you get and stay motivated. It’s so powerful to create something that you can look at every day that directs you towards your vision and goals. You may call this a vision board, or a dream board. This isn’t fancy or complex. The intent is to create something that you connect with on a daily basis – something that will motivate you to take action. Your vision board may include sayings, pictures, images, quotes, anything that reminds you of what you’re working towards. Then, once created, put it some place where you see it daily.
Enlist an Accountability Buddy. This strategy works great for fitness, right? If you have a trainer or a workout partner, you’re much more likely to show up for your workout. Do the same thing with yourself to stay motivated and resist procrastination. Enlist your coach or a trusted friend to be your anti-procrastination buddy. Be specific and tell them exactly what you’re committing to, and ask them to hold you accountable. Believe me, they will and you’ll get done more than you ever thought possible.
Don’t give in to procrastination. You can choose to take control of your time, your focus and your results. Give one of these strategies a try and see how it works. Don’t try to do them all at once. They are meant to support you, not overwhelm you! Take them one at a time. See which ones work best for you and in what situation.
Have fun! And, keep in touch! I would love to know how these strategies work for you!
And, if you find that you need some extra accountability, give me a call! I would love to talk with you about how coaching can support you in finding your way with ease and grace.
Have an amazing week and enjoy your learnings!
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