I’m on my way to Portland to drop off my youngest daughter at school. This morning, as I woke up to the sounds of (what sounded like) a whole fleet of garbage trucks backing up with the BEEP BEEP BEEP, my first thought was about a simple task I’d been putting off. Needlessly.
And so I finally completed the task, then I thought about why it is that I procrastinate. Sometimes it’s because the task is hard. Sometimes it’s because the task is easy but I am not sure of the steps I need to take to get it done. And sometimes the task I’m putting off is easy but relatively unpleasant (like making the phone call I need to make later today).
You (and I) can end procrastination if you set up a plan to do it. It only takes eight small steps toward success to beat it. If you keep these steps in mind before you get started on any project, you’ll be able to stop procrastination before it even gets a foothold.
- Change Your Perception – Often when you think of the end project it can be overwhelming. It’s important to switch your perception on a project and not see it as an end product. Plus, you don’t want to let your false opinion of any one thing to cloud your judgement, whether that is that the tasks are dull, or that they’re worthless, or that you just can’t do them. You have to let all that go and try to find some excitement in doing the work.
- Let Go of Fear – Realize that most procrastination is rooted in fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, and fear of not being good enough. Many people get so tied up in perfection that they can’t finish anything and never succeed, so that fear becomes self-perpetuating and never-ending. If you can let go of judgment and fear as you work through the tasks, you’ll be able to end procrastination.
- Chunk Up the Project – No project is just the deliverable. All projects have steps that need to be done some in order, some together, but no project is just the end. In school, when you first started doing reports, your English teacher assigned to you different aspects of the project with due dates. You probably did the outline first, perfected the outline, worked on your topic sentences, and then each point of the report, a little bit at a time. Chunk up the work you need to do in the same way.
- Just Get Started – You may not realize it’s that easy, but it is. Our minds change focus when we get started. It’s like that workout you don’t want to do; in the middle of it, you’re perfectly fine with it. And of course when it’s over, you’re satisfied that you did it. It’s the same with any work that you don’t want to do. Get started, and someplace in the middle you’ll feel differently.
- Talk About It Publically – Social media is great for this. Just announce on Twitter or Facebook to your friends, or a special group, that you’re doing xyz right now and will be for the next 90 minutes. Telling people you’re doing it will help you actually do it because you don’t want to become a liar.
- Work in Breaks – If you have a long day of tasks you don’t like doing, and you cannot outsource them, work in breaks. In fact, even if you like doing the tasks, you need to have breaks in order to be healthy. Eat right, exercise, and drink plenty of water no matter what you’re doing. It will help keep your mind clear and your body healthy.
- Ask for Accountability – If you are having more problems, be sure to find an accountability partner. You can pay for that in a life coach, or business coach, or you can ask a trusted friend or family member to help you break your pattern of procrastination.
- Reward Yourself – Everyone likes to be rewarded for a job well done. Work in ways to reward yourself that are healthy. If you finish a huge project on time, get a massage or go to a good movie with your partner.
Procrastination doesn’t have to beat you. You can control the desire to put off things by just taking small steps each day to end procrastination.
And , as always, if you’d like to talk about how I can help you, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org.