Deep clean the house, organise the ‘bits and bobs’ drawer, take the dog out for one more quick walk…
Ah, yes. There’s nothing like a bit of procrastination to get all those bottoms-of-the-list jobs done, hey?
If you’re anything like me (a class A putter-offer) you’ll be familiar with this behaviour. Twiddling your thumbs and avoiding any remotely important task in favour of jobs far less crucial.
Much like its best pal perfectionism, procrastination is a cocktail of limiting beliefs, fear, anxiety and the refusal to deal with negative feelings.
It does, however, gift moments of temporary relief by letting us stay tucked up and safe in our comfort zones. But this short term gain causes missed opportunities and delays us from reaching our goals.
So, I hear you ask: “how do I stop procrastinating?”
Well, my friend, you’re in luck! In this article I’ll detail a few (tried and tested) tips on how to get motivated and stop dawdling once and for all…
Understand your why
Get your shovel out – it’s time to do some digging. If you want to stop being a procrastinator, you need to understand your motivation behind the task. It’s vital. Knowing the reason why you want something helps with focus, brings clarity and adds a clear value to your actions.
If you need a nudge in the right direction, here are some examples of what your why might be:
1. Spending more time with family
2. More disposable income for adventure
3. To work remotely
4. More time to walk the doggies
5. Enhance your mental health
So, when making a start seems too tough, just remember your reason behind it – your why.
Break down your goal into steps
Aim for the first step, not the whole staircase: a tip I swear by. Looking at the big picture is enough to put anyone off. It’s daunting and overwhelming, with the end goal perched on top of an impossibly high mountain.
But, when tasks are broken down into smaller, actionable chunks, they seem within reach, clearer and way less intimidating.
Take your goal and work out the steps you need to reach it. Then break those down further and further. Give yourself small, (daily or weekly) actionable tasks to complete and before you know it, you’ll be half way up that mountain.
Praise the small steps
As humans, our automatic reaction is to lean towards negativity (known as negative bias and is born from our need to protect ourselves from harm as early human beans) Because of this, we often skip over the seemingly insignificant achievements we make day to day – if we haven’t launched a podcast, written a book or run a marathon, we haven’t accomplished anything noteworthy.
But celebrating our small successes is essential, and here’s why:
1. Instantly enhances motivation
2. Boosts confidence in our abilities
3. Releases dopamine (we get a feel good hit and want to get it again and again)
4. Gives us proof we’re growing
5. Reinforces positive behaviour
Above all, celebrating the little wins gives a deeper meaning to the end goal by enabling us to enjoy the journey.
Change your environment
A simple way to beat procrastination is to change your work space. Unfortunately, hopping on a plane to Barbados to remote work for a week isn’t always doable (damnit!) so, we must work with what we’ve got.
Do you work in the study? Grab your laptop and move to the kitchen. Can’t change your location? Put away those random scraps of paper, pop your pens in a pot and clear up your desk.
You know what they say, “a clean desk is a clean mind.” (I’m not sure anybody is actually quoted to have said that but it’s the straight-up truth, okay.)
Every failure is a lesson learned
If every time you fail at something you suffer an existential crisis, you aren’t alone. Being vulnerable and putting yourself out ‘there’ is hard – and one of the main reasons we hide behind procrastination. The thought that our efforts will be seen as substandard is terrifying – being judged can really sting. But the truth is, if you never fail, you never learn. And you’re never starting from scratch but from experience, levelling up and failing better each time.
As Queen Brené Brown says in the fantastic Daring Greatly, “If you’re not in the arena getting your arse kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”
Who gives a **** what they say? Failure is better than regret.
All it takes is one move in the right direction to gain momentum. That one teeny step forward will help with your flow. As a writer who frequently suffers from writer’s block and epic procrastination battles, I know the best thing I can do is start. Even if it’s illegible, unreadable nonsense, getting something down is the hardest part.
Take the pressure of yourself to achieve great things straight off the bat. Start now – you can edit later.
you can deal with procrastination
Chronic procrastination can be a real problem, often standing strong (like a real pain in the a**) between you and your dreams. And having dealt with real procrasto-problems in my time, it’s something I’m super familiar with. But hopefully, by using these actionable tips (like me!) you can say goodbye to dilly dallying and a proactive h-to-the-ello to a future procrastination-free!
If you need any further help, send me an email and we can have a chin wag!
Do you have any other tips? Let me know in the comments below!