Can you think of something you wanted to do but you felt today was just not right?
And you said to yourself, ” I will do it tomorrow. ”
But tomorrow never came until it was too late, and you had missed the deadline.
Or even worse, you delayed something that was important so much and everything that could go wrong due to procrastination and delay was going wrong? I have. Many times.
And so I had to find a way to keep things that matter in line and on schedule.
Procrastination affects many people, or really, most people, and destroys dreams and intentions.
I don’t know what it is but our brains have a way of resisting the things that the brain feels are unpleasant, or difficult or those that we feel will make us look bad.
We find a way to delay these things that require effort, energy, brainpower or even emotional energy.
Like that talk, you need to have with a significant person in your life but you know it won’t be easy so, you say, “I will talk to them tomorrow.”
But tomorrow can sometimes be too late.
You have heard of people dying without having resolved relationship difficulties with important people in their lives. It is sad really.
Sometimes you are determined to do that project but as soon as you got to your computer, you found yourself scrolling mindlessly on Facebook watching some cat videos?
Our brains are designed to avoid pain. And so when a task seems too hard, or difficult our brain tells us that it is a painful experience and we should avoid it.
So we delay it. We tell ourself we can do it later.
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Procrastination can keep you stuck spinning your wheels and never achieving the very things that would move the needle for you and move your forward.
Procrastination, as much as it is in action, unfortunately, it is still an action, a decision to postpone what we may not want to handle at the present moment.
Sometimes it is a big decision. At times it is that visit to the dentist, or your yearly physical. We tend to procrastinate about these issues especially when we are healthy.
Sometimes we have an inkling something is wrong but we brush it off and hope it will just go away on its own.
That procrastination can lead to a problem getting bigger and bigger until it cannot be resolved. It becomes a lost cause.
That skin blemish may be cancerous.
And having it checked earlier can save your life.
But we procrastinate taking comfort in blissful ignorance. In that which we don’t know. We had rather assume it will be okay.
But knowing is what empowers us.
However, who doesn’t procrastinate? I am a procrastinator. I have been fighting this battle for a long time.
Procrastination can cause financial problems. For example when bills are paid late- I should know.
Why pay late fees if you could avoid it?
Somehow procrastination holds us hostage and we find ourselves in such a situation.
Paying late fees that could have been avoided.
Procrastination also can ruin your chances at accomplishing much if you are running around the last minute trying to finish projects the day they are due.
This is stressful for you and your stress permeates and transfers to those around you, a is terrible for relationships.
Also, it takes a lot of energy to keep avoiding tasks, because they hung on at the back of your mind.
They weigh you down and you feel bogged down by the nagging thoughts of tasks that you need to complete. You get decision fatigue.
The best thing is knowing what needs to be done, getting it done and moving on to the next task.
The things we avoid keep coming back to our minds and that is more exhausting.
So have that talk, schedule that appointment, clean that room. Then move on. Stop procrastinating.
How can one tackle this beast of procrastination?
How can we avoid procrastination, increase our productivity and vastly improve our lives?
Beat procrastination by using the following simple ways to stay focused and getting things done on time.
And you can start living a healthier, more productive life with less stress.
So the following are the simple steps to beating procrastination for good.
1. Have Goals and Write Them Down
If you have goals, you need to write them down. If your goals are important to you, you need to write them down. Research shows those who write their goals down are more likely to achieve them.
Keep these written goals where you can see them daily. Post them on the wall. Write them down in your planner.
And most important is Learning how to make SMART goals. These are well thought out goals.
You may have heard this before, but let’s just review.
These goals are Specific. You outline exactly what you want to do.
You may have a goal to make more money. So you can specify exactly how much money you want to make. Do you want to make 1000 dollars?
SMART Goals are Measurable. Meaning you have a way to tell that you have accomplished them.
For instance, if you set out to make a thousand dollars, you know if you got that figure or not if you reached the goal or not.
These goals are Attainable. There no need for setting a goal so high that you can never reach it.
These goals are Relevant. There is no need of setting a goal that does not tie in with what you want o to achieve.
Smart goals are Time based. You have to have a deadline for a good goal.
Without a timed deadline, you can put these goals off forever and never make a move especially if procrastination is a problem.
So you want to make 1000 dollar doing what by when. And do you have realistic ways you can make a thousand dollars?
Having well thought out SMART Goals can get you moving and prevent you from being stuck in procrastination land forever.
2. Break Big Projects into Small Steps
Large projects can be intimidating. Sometimes it is something BIG you need to tackle.
Maybe your home is exploding in chaos and you have been putting off cleaning and organizing.
The overwhelm of tackling big projects can lead to procrastinating as we worry about how we will ever manage to do such a big thing.
That overwhelm about the immensity of the job at hand can keep you from starting.
This is one reason why hoarders live with a great big mess.
They are overwhelmed.
And so the mess looms forever formidable and overwhelming, keeping the person’s mental health cluttered leading to or adding to anxiety depression or both.
The best thing to do is to break the work down into bite-sized parts that are doable.
If it is the house, start cleaning in one room. One corner. One drawer. Put a timer on.
Say you will tackle an area for thirty minutes.
Then reward yourself when time is done.
And then time yourself again for a few minutes and continue. And every day, you tackle a small bit of the project.
Before you know it, you will be done. You will have a clean organized house.
This technique can be used in other areas as well. Divide any job into small parts, and take care of one step at a time.
As you accomplish each small part, you will feel more motivated successful and feel inspired to move on forward.
And before you know it it’s done and you are free to tackle the next big thing.
3. Write a To-Do- List
Start with a master to-do list of all the things that need to be done in a month, a quarter, a day a year depending on your goals is great at staying focused and preventing overwhelm and procrastination.
A to-do list is a great way to mind dump all the things in your life that need to be done.
Put on paper your goals. It has been proven that when goals are written down they usually more likely to be accomplished.
As mentioned already you need a master list. From this master list, you will pick a few things to do daily depending on their complexity, and urgency.
And so to keep your mind focused on the next day, write a daily to-do list the night before as part of your nightly routine.
This is a life saver. It empties your mind so you can easily sleep without your mind focusing energy on these things as you wait to fall asleep.
And when you wake up, you already know what to work on first.
You can get started without wasting time on thinking at this point. This is an easy way to beat procrastination.
Once you have a master to-do list down and break it into the various components and steps. It is time to prioritize the tasks.
This includes picking 1 to 3 items on the list that are the Most Important items because the completion has a deadline, or they can be life-changing. Work on those first.
When a project just looms large like a big amorphous hairy scary thing that you have to deal with, it paralyzes even the best of us.
And most other times, you not only have BIG things to do, but you also have so much more on your to-do list.
You know when your day’s to-do list is a mile long and you just want to say,” the day is canceled,
I am going back to bed.” But the reality is we can’t do that.
At such times, we do everything we can to run away from a scary big project. Your mind may want to run away.
So it finds ways to keep you safe from ” the to do list monster.”
The best thing to do is lay the task out and divide it into small parts and assign a time and priority for each.
To prioritize tasks, you can use a few methods.
Among the best and most popular is the Eisenhower Matrix.
Eisenhower matrix or decision Matrix Is a great way to provide one clarity, so they know for sure where it started.
Tasks on the to-do list are assigned a priority of depending on the level of urgency and importance.
This allows you to see exactly what you need to tackle, now, what can wait but needs attention too that is pretty high on the hierarchy, and those to delegate.
Yea! Use the power of delegation. Someone can do the dishes or shop for groceries. Urgent/not urgent/not urgent.do/don’t do
And some fail to be urgent or important. So these you delete and that don’t get done.
Is there someone that you may have on your list that occupying space, yet ist neither urgent nor important. Let it go, let it go…
Breath! There some things you just have to forget about and move on. Don’t waste time and brain space on those.
You better be handling those urgent and important items on your list.
By thinking this way, you get motivated to accomplish a thing and reduce procrastination.
Then there are those things that are important but not urgent. For this, you decide when you need to do them.
You do this next. They need to be done but not immediately. You can schedule a time to get to these tasks.
Then you have some things that are urgent but not important.
These are the things you delegate to someone else
These could be appointments. If you are in the business of writing or self-employed then you want to do your ROI items.
This way of tackling a to-do list gives you focus and energizes you to handle the other businesses of the day.
Here is an illustration of the Eisenhower Decision Matrix
Use the Pomodoro Techniques
I think this is my favorite way of avoiding procrastination.
If you struggle with distraction, this is a good way to get started already.
The premise of the Pomodoro technique is deciding what you need to have done, and dedicate a set amount time to it uninterrupted. Let’s say you decide to work on a particular task for 25 minutes.
Focus solely on it until that time is up.
Then when the time is up, give yourself a break. Just make sure to write it down and schedule it
This depends of course on you and can be different for each person.
These not urgent and not important tasks, you delete them altogether. Get them out of your list and out of your mind.
It is pretty satisfying and energizes to tackle life’s hardest issues first.
Make one feel lighter and motivated.
Use a reward system including eating your frog first
Think of the worst case scenario
Assign time blocks for tasks to complete
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5. Eat Your Frog
The famous author Mark Twain’s famous advice for facing unpleasant, or intimidating tasks first is ” Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
This is hard, but sound advice for getting difficult things done and out of the way first.
And Brian Tracey in Eat That Frog elaborates on this and offers 21 ways to accomplish more and getting things done. You can check out Eat that Frog here.
It sounds gross, but it helps to make the point. This means that you attend to that most important and also intimidating, difficult or unpleasant task first.
Think about that big large hairy goal or project or the most important thing you are putting off. Face it, do it and your day will be so much easier after that.
Sometimes for me especially when I was in school it was some big awful important assignment, and those always have a deadline and they are life-changing.
Those types of projects have to be prioritized.
Writing a term paper under an impending deadline is very stressful. So I finally learned to prioritize such tasks and tackled the project first thing in the morning.
And when It was done I felt so free and light and accomplished. Tackle that big hairy thing first when you have the best focus. If you are a morning person, do it soon after waking up.
Accomplishing this one difficult thing will give you a can- do- it spirit and give you the push to do more.
It also clears space in your brain so you don’t feel so weighed down by the constant thought of something you are putting off.
And as you go through the day, your mind feels energized by earlier success. This is motivating and you will find that you have a better more productive day.
6. Avoid Distractions
Everyone has their distractors. That thing we immediately gravitate towards when avoiding important things we don’t want to do.
For some, its immediately finding something else that will make them feel they are doing important work and that’s, why they can’t, do those big looming things right now.
These distractions could be social media, or simply flopping on the couch and watching TV.
Another day I had to do some homework for a job I am training for.
What I immediately started doing was I found the house needed cleaning. I cleaned the kitchen, vacuumed the floors, and did two loads of laundry.
By the time I was done, it was midnight and as I started finally working on my homework, I fell asleep and needless to say I did a hurried embarrassing job on that homework the next day.
So what are your distractors? Do you have to have your house perfect before you start to tackle deadlines? Or do you start to scroll Twitter and Instagram?
There are so many ways to stay busy yet not accomplishing what really matters.
Recognize these distractors for what they are and redirect your brain to focus on what really matters right now.
7. Abandon the Quest for Perfection
Trying to be perfect can derail you. It can make you afraid to make a step because you are forever afraid that you will fail. Fail to achieve perfection, and then all will know you are not all that great.
I love the idea of taking imperfect action. It is so much better than being stuck because you are afraid of falling short.
For many, its the worry of being judged.
If fear is derailing you and keeping you stuck, I suggest you check out Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.
It will inspire you to break free from fear and go after your dreams. It is high time to learn to ignore what others think.
Do your very best. Don’t let the fear of not producing perfection hold you back and keep you stuck.
If you worry too much about not doing something just so, remember that at times, done is better than perfect.
Do great work, the best you can but don’t worry too much or all the time about being the best or perfect.
So get started, take that imperfect action, and you will be that closer to success.
8. Change Your Perspective.
I have trouble with this but I am working on this.
I tend to see the cup as half empty instead of half full. So if you are a pessimists try to change your world view.
Start looking for positive things in every situation. Pessimism is so self-defeating.
If one has no hope then they have little to look forward to, and that can increase inertia.
It can be demotivating if you can’t begin to do something because you are thinking well its no use. You have failed before.
Change negative thinking and think positive. Tell yourself that this time things will go right and you’ll succeed.
Do you have a business idea you want to implement but you are so afraid and negative thought keeps you stuck?
Speak life. Be positive, and get started. You will be surprised what a positive attitude and affirmation can do for you.
But being hopeful increases energy and makes us want to try, to see things in a new light.
9. Ensure You Have Enough Energy Daily
It is difficult to face big tasks when you feel limp and lethargic with a foggy brain resulting likely from any number of reasons such as lack of adequate sleep, eating non-nutritious foods.
Have a meal plan so you are not wasting time thinking about what to cook or eat, and then reaching for the French fries in the freezer.
Plan your meals so that they include nutrition dense foods for optimal energy and focus.
When you eat simple carbs, for example, you will get hungry sooner faster. Then you wast more time running back forth to the fridge.
And if you are at work, you have no energy. The beast that is procrastination requires enough mental energy to stay focused.
You should make it a habit to have water with you at all time as your first choice in hydration.
While there may be some other drinks that can hydrate you, some have too much sugar and additives to be healthy.
Ensure you drinking enough to suit the weather, and activities as well as you’re on bodily needs.
It is nearly impossible to maintain focus when you dehydrated.
Even slight dehydration changes how well your brain functions.
It makes you feel lethargic. So if you a feeling like sleeping you really don’t have the energy needed to continue crushing your todo list.
So hydrates well as it can help you avoid procrastination.
10. Establish Routines: Nightly and Morning Routines
Routines can help you avoid excessive procrastination. They are not a cure-all but can help. A nighttime routine can help you start sleeping earlier, and better so you have more energy to tackle even the scariest item on your list.
A simple routine can include
Routines make life simpler and save mental energy.
Think about it. You wake up in the morning and you already laid out the plans for the day. You have your prioritized list ready to go.
No wasting time thinking about what needs to be done first Because you already know.
Let’s talk briefly about a night time routine. Let’s say you start winding down at 8 pm. You clear the kitchen after dinner is done. You take a nice relaxing bath.
Then you write your next days to do list. You take a few minutes to do some calming mediation. You write your thoughts into your journal.
Then you get into bed and read a good book for a few minutes till sleep takes over.
This routine will allow you to have great and restorative sleep. This will also give you more energy to tackle your do to list int he morning.
- make sure to sleep at the right time, an that you will have adequate sleep
- Get off electronics at least 2 hours before bed.
Sleep enough and well.
Following a nightly routine can help you sleep better.
Ensuring that you sleep well is a big part of self-care.
It is s a good morning when you wake up and you are refreshed, and energetic.
Then you can get to the goals you laid out without being weighed down by an achy unrested body and mind.
Sleep cleanse you giving you the boost needed to start briskly on your day’s agenda.
Even just a brisk daily walk can energize you. I know many people will claim a lack of time.
But What I have found is that if something is important, and gets scheduled then it gets done.
So schedule those 30 minutes in you daily for some energizing exercise.
That well-oxygenated blood to the brain and the endorphins will power your brain right up, giving you the fuel needed to focus and complete an important task.
You want more energy to do what matters to you, and to get ahead, start exercising every day.
Nothing gives a pep in your step than exercise.
Looking good in your clothes also boost self-esteem. And when you feel great, you tend to believe more in your ability, and won’t be as intimidated by a big goal, a scary project or task.
11. Consider the outcome or Repercussions of procrastination.
What is at stake? Think of this. What could possibly go wrong? What is the price? Who and how can your procrastination affect?
If you are delaying an important project, visualize the damage that can happen from not getting it done on time.
What are the costs? Are they worth it? What are you likely to pay as a result? Is the anxiety of last-minute hurried work worth it?
Remember that procrastinating affects not just you, but others as well.
So make life easy for you, those around you and those that your procrastination affects.
It is not easy to stop a life long habit of procrastination, but with effort and due diligence using these tips and others, it can be done.
Are you a procrastinator? How do you beat procrastination and get things done?
I would love to know you go to tricks and ways of avoiding procrastination.