Since we are in the middle of the year, I thought procrastination might be a good subject to tackle so that you aren’t waiting until the last quarter of the year to “get it all done.” Everyone procrastinates—it doesn’t matter who you are. I’ll even make a confession; I am a procrastinator.
The effects of procrastination don’t just lie within one aspect of our life; it spreads, kind of like a virus to other aspects and if you don’t control it, you’ll start doing it more and more.
Ultimately, you’re putting yourself into a situation where you have less time to complete your tasks. You are giving up that time to do something else as opposed to doing the task, so you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul. You are also creating unnecessary stress for yourself and others. This is something a lot of people don’t think about or understand, because many people (including myself at times) say they work best under pressure.
Well, we can debate that back and forth, but most studies that have been done on this subject have shown that people don’t work best under pressure. They work best when they have more time and are more relaxed and can think more clearly about the issue.
This extra stress from procrastination causes so many problems. It can cause health issues because you’re procrastinating so much that you’re causing yourself to worry about the task that you didn’t complete yet.
This begs the question, why do we do it?
- It’s a perception that a task is unpleasant or overwhelming. I think we’ve all experienced this at one point in our lives.
- Fear of the unknown. You don’t know what’s going to happen or what you’re going to encounter when taking on a particular task.
- Fear of change. People tend not to want to change. I for one like change. There’s something about it that’s exciting and thrilling to me, but some people are set in their ways and don’t want to change.
- Perfectionism. If you can’t do it right, then don’t do it at all. This is something that can be a hindrance. I think everyone should have a healthy amount of perfectionism, but if you have too much of it, you’ll put things off and start procrastinating because it can’t be done the way you wanted it done. Get over it and move forward!
- Fear of failure. While a small dose of fear of failure can cause pressure and be a good thing, don’t have so much that it holds you back. Fear of failure is perfectly fine. It’s something that I experience when embarking on a new venture. It’s something I’m sure I’ll experience for the rest of my life, but it’s also something that won’t hold me back from proceeding forward.
The first step with any issue you may have is to admit that you have a problem. I know it sounds a bit cliché, but it’s true. You need to first admit that you are truly a procrastinator. In fact, I want you to stop right now and say, “I am a procrastinator.” If you can say that you’re one step closer to getting over this issue. The next step is to make a decision. Be willing to do something about it starting right now — don’t put it off ! You have to be serious about it, or you’re just wasting your time and won’t get any results from what little efforts you do make.
Once you recognize you have the problem and make the decision to take immediate action, you will be able to see when procrastination is creeping in and put it away and start moving towards the success you intend to have. If you’re serious about overcoming procrastination, then now is the time to get started. Below are some great ways you can use to overcome procrastination.
FOCUS ON THE START
Typically, when you look at anything you want to accomplish you tend to focus on the finish and all that it requires in order for you to complete the actual task. By changing your focus, you can finish faster. You need to focus on the start and not allow yourself to worry about finishing the project, or you’ll never get it off the ground.
Many people analyze the task so much they end up doing nothing. They try to put all the pieces together before moving one step forward, which isn’t necessary. What I’ve discovered is the act of just starting the project will get me in motion. Focusing on the start simplifies it for your brain.
Your brain normally looks at a project on a whole and all that’s entailed with the actual doing and completion of the total project you’re working on. By focusing on the start, the brain only sees one aspect and that’s what’s needed to get started.
WORK IN BURSTS
As I stated earlier, you tend to think in terms of the entire project, but by working in bursts of specific timeframes. For example, I may work on something for 60 minutes, and then I’ll stop.
That’s simple and is a lot easier than trying to work on it until you get the entire project finished, which allows you to gather just enough energy to start the task at hand. Even though you’re only working on a project for 60 minutes, by simply getting yourself in motion, you create additional energy that allows you to work longer.
CHUNKING IT DOWN
This is different than working in bursts. When I talk about a burst I’m talking about a length of time. When I talk about chunking it down, I’m talking about creating certain mile markers. Take your project and break it down into smaller pieces.
Why does this work? You get a feel of accomplishment faster. The whole idea of any kind of achievement is that you want to feel you accomplished something and the more success you have, the more success you’ll ultimately get because there is a success cycle. Therefore, by chunking the project down you build a bunch of small successes that ultimately lead to the big success of achieving whatever tasks or goals you want to accomplish.
This by far is the one technique I use most myself because it works. Tell everyone what you’re going to do. Many times, I’ll announce to my entire list or on a live call that I’m going to do something. Once you make it public, you have no choice but to do it.
ALLOW TIME FOR FUN
Sometimes you need to take a break to move forward. You can’t always put your head down and complete everything in one shot. You need that time to allow yourself to recharge your batteries and get more energized to move forward. All work and no play make Jack or Jill a dull person.
First, state what it is you’re going to achieve, then what you will get when you achieve that goal or task completion. You want to reward yourself because it makes the task feel less like work. The more fun you have, the more you’ll enjoy actually doing it. Hence, the more you’re likely to complete it, as well.
Make the reward worth your effort—maybe it’s a day at the spa. Maybe it’s buying yourself that new gadget you’ve been wanting. Whatever you decide, make the reward appropriate for the task. Just because you get out of bed in the morning doesn’t mean you can take a three-day vacation.
Know you have an issue with procrastination. This is key and vital. You have to remember you’re not just a procrastinator for a certain period of time; you’re always a procrastinator from now and forever more.
Be aware when you are procrastinating and that will help you overcome it in the future. You need to avoid putting yourself in situations where you allow yourself to procrastinate.
Think about these tips you can use to stop procrastination and keep them in the forefront of your mind. When you have a task that you need to complete, try a few of them and get to work, but don’t tell me you’ll start tomorrow. Start today!
Procrastination is the enemy of success and the guilt of not doing something always steals your energy. – Barbara Corcoran