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17 Steps to Overcoming Procrastination

Published June 28, 2017 in The Woman I Love - 0 Comments
Why do we procastinate

Do you ever procrastinate?  

Be honest, now.  Your excuses may sound something like this, "I'm too tired to face it now," to " I deserve to take time off, and I will face it tomorrow."

The only problem with those excuses is the brain is still, keeping track of the "to do" list, which requires a lot of energy.  Think of your brain as a stage and every task as an actor on that stage.  If you keep putting tasks on the stage without taking any tasks off, your actors cannot perform.

Research has shown that everyone procrastinates from time to time.  But some folks are problem procrastinators.  These habitual procrastinators are stopping the fulfillment of their potential and disruption of their careers.

The definition of procrastinations is putting off things that should be done right now.

Common rationalizations that are used:

  • I work better under pressure.
  • I need more skills before I tackle this project.
  • I really don't want to do this.
  • Nothing is tragic will happen if this doesn't get done.
  • Nothing is tragic will happen if this doesn't get done.
  • I am not in the mood to do it, so I will put it off until I am in the right mood.

Now write a rebuttal to each of these statements.

  • There are obvious consequences from procrastinating that increase stress, lost opportunities, missed deadlines, trouble at work, school and relations.
  • The internal consequences are anxiety, depression, harsh self-judgment, and feelings of fraudulence.
  • Stress is linked to fear of failure, fear of success, fear of feeling controlled.
  • Procrastination, with every negative attitude toward the task, has been reinforced. Avoidance instead of participation, you indoctrinate yourself with fear instead of acquiring the training and skills to do the task.
  • Understanding why you procrastinate and then taking active steps to manage your time is the key to a better outcome.

Step 1:

  1. Recognize that you're procrastinating.
  2. Are you attending to low priority tasks?
  3. Reading e-mail several times without starting work on them.
  4. Not knowing what to do with the e-mails once you have read them.
  5. You start to work on a high-priority task and decide to get a cup of coffee instead.
  6. Are items being left undone on your to-do list?  You move them from one day to the next.
  7. Are you saying "Yes" to trivial tasks to put off working on the important ones on your list?
  8. Not in the right mood or it isn't the right time to work on the task?

The "Why" of procrastinating:

Is the task unpleasant?  

Most jobs have boring or unpleasant aspects, and the best way to deal with them is to do them first so you can move to more enjoyable aspects of the job.

Are you disorganized?

Organized people prioritize to-do lists and schedule how important the piece of work is and identify precisely when it is due.  They plan how long the task will take and work backward, so they know when to start the task.  Organized people break work into manageable "next steps."

Perfectionists put off doing the task, waiting for the right moment, right skills or the right resources.

Underdeveloped decision-making skills prevent task to be completed because the person can't decide what to do and will put off the task because they may do the wrong thing.

Strategies for Anti-Procrastination

Think of procrastination as a pathway in your brain.  If you take the same path over-and-over again, the path gets deeper and deeper.  These habits are harmful and need to stop, and new positive pathways need to be entrenched.

Step 2:  I found these tips to motivate action.

  1. Make up your own rewards.
  2. Notice how you feel upon completion.
  3. Have an accountability partner.  Research has found the this is an effective way to keep us on track.  We value what our peers think of us.
  4. Having negative consequences are warning signs that you are off track.
  5. If you work for someone else are you giving your employer value?  If you are procrastinating, you're not delivering value for the money.  Shame yourself into getting going!
  6. How would you eat an elephant?  One piece at a time.  Your tasks should be done the same way.  Break it up into small pieces.
  7. To-Do lists help those that are not organized. It prevents them from "conveniently" forgetting about an unpleasant or overwhelming task.
  8. Master scheduling your priorities and project planning, so you know how much time you will need to complete the task.
  9. Set time-bound goals. Remember Parkinson's Laws: Work expands to fill the time available.

Do you have a task that you have been putting off because it seems overwhelming?

Create an action plan.  Create small steps to manage the project.  Build on each quick small task, and before long the project will be completed.

What about tasks that are unpleasant?

Sometimes we think a task is going to be unpleasant, but once we get started, we find that we really enjoy it or it is less unpleasant than I brain presented.

  • Think of the consequence of not doing the work in front of your mind.
  • Reward yourself for doing the task.
  • Start identifying the times that you are beginning to procrastinate and take active steps to defeat the monster.

This blog was written by our amazing guest blogger Pat Conlan of Conlan Coaching

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