how to overcome procrastination

How to Overcome Procrastination

Hiding from those tasks won’t make them go away!

Last week we talked about setting our goals for the year ahead, being clear on what we really want, and breaking those goals down into smaller steps so we can start from wherever we are. How’s that going? Have you taken action yet, or are you holding back on some of those steps? If so, this might help you to overcome procrastination.

Whether our goal is something we really want, or there are tasks we need to do that we don’t enjoy, procrastination is a habit that holds us back and gets in the way. So how do you know if you’re procrastinating?

Here are some of the signs:

  • Filling your day with unimportant tasks or distractions
  • Saying ‘yes’ to other people’s requests so you become too busy
  • Waiting for the ‘right time’ or until you’re in the ‘right mood’
  • Doing more research. Then more. (Analysis Paralysis)
  • Waiting until it’s perfect
  • Convincing yourself it’s not important
  • Talking a lot about what you will do, but not actually doing it

Recognise any of those? What other great procrastination techniques do you have?

So how do you overcome procrastination?

Well you could start by understanding why you procrastinate. Here are some of the common reasons:

  • The task doesn’t interest you
  • The thing you want to do feels too difficult
  • You’re disorganised or easily distracted
  • It seems too overwhelming
  • You’re worried about making the wrong choice or making a mistake
  • Fear of change
  • Perfectionism

Think about the goals or actions where you know that you’re procrastinating. Is it due to one of the above, or something else?

Look next at the tasks or goals you have set for yourself, particularly the ones you’ve been putting off or avoiding. Ask yourself these questions.

  • How important is it?
  • What are the consequences of not doing it?
  • What are the benefits of getting it done?
  • Is there a deadline?
  • Who else could help?
  • Is there a clear plan to get this done?

Once you’ve established what’s really important, and you’ve defined the reason for your procrastination, here are some of the ways to overcome those avoiding or delaying tactics.

Choose the most important – Not just in terms of urgency, but think about the consequences of doing nothing, or the benefits of getting it done. Especially if this a goal you have set yourself to make a positive change in your life.

Get the most difficult task done first – Mark Twain is quoted as saying that if you eat a live frog each morning, you can go through the rest of the day knowing that’s probably the worst thing you will have to do. So if a task feels difficult, but it’s important, get it done first. Eat that frog!

Break it down into small steps – If you’ve seen the webinar or post about goal setting, you’ll know how important this is to achieving the results you want. If a task seems overwhelming, take one tiny step at a time and if it helps you, reward yourself upon completion of each step. Celebrate every success.

Set your own deadlines – If a task doesn’t have a deadline, set your own. A goal or action step without a deadline is likely to keep being delayed in favour of other tasks.

Be accountable – If you’re a procrastinator, or even if it’s just this one thing that’s causing you to delay, being accountable to someone else is a good way of ensuring you get the task done. At work we often have managers who we report to, but in our personal lives who holds us accountable? Working with a coach, or having an accountability buddy to check-in with, is known to help us take action towards our goals.

Work on Your Mindset – Practice thinking positively about your goal or the outcome you will have. Even if that outcome is just that the difficult task will no longer loom over you. Think of how much clearer your mind and time will be once this is done. Get yourself in your best state for taking action, know your deadline, and take that first step.

What works for you to overcome procrastination?



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