How to stop procrastinating in 7 easy steps
You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, reading blogs.
In my last article I addressed the challenge of goal setting, working out what you want to achieve, and by when. It’s all very well knowing that you’ve set your goals, and you know what it is that you want to do. However there are times when you know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.
Procrastination. Mason Cooley said it already: “Procrastination makes easy things hard, and hard things harder.”
Well without further ado here are some of my top tips for stamping all over procrastination like grape-stomping in a vineyard.
But first lets talk about just one of the reasons why we procrastinate…….. Did you notice what I did there…?
FEAR instills, well fear, in us and that is one of the factors that leads to the dreaded procrastination. Let me give you an example. A few years ago (far more that i care to remember) when I was setting up my training and coaching company, I put my heart and soul into building this company and it was doing really well. It wasn’t major league or anything like that but I had a few employees and the usual small business cash flow problems. I dreamed of the big client that I could take on board and take my business up to the next level.
Amongst my many weaknesses, one of my greatest strengths is communication, I have a great ability to connect and build rapport with people and I happened to do with this with the head of HR of a very large and well known UK cool outdoors clothing company that rhymes with cat space. The next thing i knew I had the training contract to deliver management training across the whole company and all of their stores. To say I was delighted was an understatement. But then something strange started to happen, I delayed on signing contracts, I put off taking phone calls, I delayed taking payments. I seriously had to get a grip of myself. I was an MD of an about to be very succesful Training provider and I needed to stop putting off what I needed to do. I had to do some soul searching and realised that actually i was scared.
Well what was I scared of?
Fear of the unknown, fear of not being good enough, imposter syndrome, fear of being found out (that’s a good one)
Crazy, ridiculous thoughts that rendered me helpless and my biggest sabotage. Luckily I pulled myself together and landed the contract.
But my point is that fear is sometimes your biggest procrastinator and if we undestand this then we can face our enemy and give it the evil death stare.
As they say- the biggest fear is fear itself.
Now, here are my tops tips for procrastination, really this time.
Break down your work into small steps
Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because, subconsciously, we find the task at hand too overwhelming for us. Whether that is fear, boredom or outright rebellion it is easier to chunk it down, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task then chunk it down even further and put it on your to do list”
Do the worst/important stuff first
Brain Tracy wrote a whole book about it: Eat that frog! If you eat the frog in the morning then that will probaly be the worst thing that you do all day. Use it as a metaphor for getting your work sorted. Once you have done this then you have the worst over and the rest of the day should flow.
Maybe the reason you procrastinate is because you work best under pressure, and depending on your personality type you will either be a planner or a last minute.com kinda person. But what do you do if your projects don’t have any deadlines? Make your own. Set a time that you must complete your project by, and reward yourself at the end of that time!
One of the best tools that I use in my business for getting me focused and working to deadlines is brainfm. Its a great little app that will super charge your productivity. It’s pretty spooky how it works, but it’s brilliant. Working to times work
Schedule it in
One of the best ways to be successful is to schedule the week in. Studies show that if you write it down then you far more committed to the task at hand. My schedule contains my working week, appointments, exercise slots (otherwise I will NEVER do it ) and even a menu plan so that I can eat healthier than a family bag of Doritos x 7. This helps me enormously with my goals of moving my business forward and achieving my fitness and weight loss goals on a consistent basis.
Don’t be a perfectionist
If you’re waiting for the perfect time, the perfect client, the perfect website or article, then stop, you’re simply putting off completing your task. Ditch it and pitch it- Tweak it as you go along get it out there.
Perfectionism is another one of the big reasons for procrastination.
We all know that feeling where we look at our watch and its 12 o’clock…. what 12 o’clock how did it get to be 12 o’clock. I haven’t even started on my planner. Sound familiar .Don’t let your afternoon go that way too.
Implement a self assessment kick start at 1 p.m.. Assess how much you’ve accomplished, remind yourself of what’s non negotiable, and alter your plan so you can tackle the most important thing. If you wait until the end of the day to do this then you’re putting yourself under unnecessary pressure , you’re out of time and in crisis mode, putting out fires rather than being the fire-starter
Just do it
At the end, it all comes down to taking action. You can do all the planning and creative prettiness in the world but you also need to drop the magpie tendencies, attracted to anything that sparkles and distracts you from what you really need to do. Reality is if you don’t take action, NOTHING will change.
You will be in exactly the same place as you were yesterday, last month or last year.
Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need put your big girl panties on and just do it.