How To Stop Procrastinating And Get Things Done
Are you a procrastinator? Hiding from those tasks won’t make them go away!
Procrastination is a habit that holds us back and gets in the way, and we can be very convincing with our reasons not to do something. 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?
Why do you procrastinate?
Here are some of the common reasons, do any of these sound familiar?
- The task doesn’t interest you
- The thing you want to do feels too difficult
- Avoiding the task feels safer and easier
- You’re disorganised or easily distracted
- It seems too overwhelming
- Fear of failure, being embarrassed if you don’t succeed
- You’re worried about making the wrong choice or making a mistake
- Fear of change
- Fear of being visible, standing out, or getting more attention than is comfortable for you
Notice when you’re procrastinating and be honest with yourself. Is it due to any of the reasons above, or something else? Understanding yourself, your motivations and your fears is a big step towards moving forward.
Look at the tasks objectively
Look at the tasks 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 figured out what’s going on and what you need to do, here are some tips 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 – How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! 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 can help you take action towards your goals.
Work on your mindset – Practice focusing on your goal or the outcome you will have, and how you will feel when you have achieved it. Even if that outcome is simply 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’s your usual way of procrastinating? Mine is usually finding other things to do instead. I’d love to hear what you’ve done to beat procrastination. You can tell me about it or get some help from me here.
Ruth Randall is a Life Coach and Employee Wellbeing Specialist. Ruth helps busy professionals to balance career, family, relationships and wellbeing, to make life and work less stressful. She also works with teams to improve employee wellbeing and mental health in the workplace.