Overcome Procrastination

Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?  If this is your motto, you’ll never get anything done.  But you’re not alone.  When you’re ready to overcome procrastination and see your goals come to fruition, there is help!

Reasons for Procrastinating

Start by asking yourself why you procrastinate.  It doesn’t matter if you’re procrastinating on daily tasks or general life goals.  Common reasons might be that you feel you’re too busy and just can never seem to get around to whatever it is you need to do, you’re too tired, or you’re a little too disorganized.  Maybe the path to your goal appears too long and difficult and you just don’t know where to start.  Or perhaps you’re putting off something you really don’t want to do, like visit the dentist or tackle that project your boss assigned you that you’re having trouble understanding.

Come On, What Are You Afraid Of?

If you dig a little deeper, your real motive for procrastinating might be fear.  It could be something as little as fear of the dentist (especially if you know you’ve been lacking in the flossing department) or something bigger such as fear of failure—are you a perfectionist?  If you are, I sympathize.  When you expect nothing less than perfection out of yourself, sometimes it can keep you from attempting new things if you don’t believe you’ll get it right on the first try.  Or maybe you’re suffering from a fear of change—you want to switch careers, maybe go after your true goals, but you’re comfortable and secure in your current routine, afraid to shake things up and risk struggling.

How to Overcome Procrastination

You, my friend, can make that career change and be successful.  You can finish that project at work and impress your boss.  You can even schedule that dentist appointment—it’ll be over before you know it.  It’s time to change your motto and get a move on.  Here are some steps to guide you.  Feel free to pick and choose; follow the ones that strike a chord with you, ignore the ones that don’t.

  • Make a to-do list.  Yes, I need you to actually take a few minutes to sit down and write out your goals.  (You’re not too busy, either.  You’re dilly-dallying on the internet right now, and you’re already sitting down.)  What do you need to get done?  What do you WANT to get done?  These might turn into two separate lists for you, and that’s fine.  Do your best to prioritize—maybe keep it to a top 5.  It’s been proven that people who write down their goals are more likely to accomplish them than people who don’t.  And there’s something to be said for that wave of satisfaction that comes with crossing your goals off that list.
  • Schedule it on your calendar.  You schedule your doctor appointments, mandatory work meetings, your kids’ sports games, etc., and you make sure to arrange your day or week around those engagements.  It can help, then, if you schedule the tasks you need to complete and goals you want to accomplish, too.  For example, if you need to complete a project for work, schedule an hour in your day during which you’ll work on the project.  Don’t let yourself get sidetracked or allow something else to take priority.  You’d make sure you’re at a meeting at 10am when your boss holds you accountable; now hold yourself accountable and be at your desk working on that project at 11am.
  • Make it public.  Tell someone else you’re going to exceed your sales quota by 10% today, get that business plan together by the end of the week, or lose 10 pounds by the end of the month.  This is especially helpful if you have trouble holding yourself accountable—maybe you’ve learned that there aren’t always devastating consequences when a deadline is purely self-imposed.  Now by telling someone else what you’re going to do, you’ve got some showing off to do.  Not only do you risk extra disappointment if you don’t follow through, someone else has rights to make fun of you.
  • Be like Bob Wiley.  If you’re unfamiliar, that’s Bill Murray’s character in the movie “What About Bob?”  Bob learns to overcome his fears and accomplish his goals by taking baby steps.  If you’re putting off a particular task or goal because it’s overwhelming, try breaking it down into smaller tasks.  This can make it seem less daunting, and you’ll feel more productive as you get each little step crossed off that list.  Don’t aim to have a record deal for your band by the end of the year, aim to complete those two unfinished songs by the end of the month.
  • Take a look at how much time you waste by procrastinating.  You might need to change your overall mindset here.  For a personal example, when I first began my journey into fitness, I had a difficult time getting my workout started.  I loved it once I got going, but it took a lot of willpower to get myself off the couch.  I would wind up watching a tv show that I was only mildly interested in, get sucked into the next one, and then look at the clock and realize I just wasted an hour.  More importantly, I could have been exercising and already been done by now.  While that thought was a little depressing, I found it motivating overall.  The sooner you get going, the sooner you’ll be done.  This mindset can help especially on those projects you’re dreading.

At minimum, I hope you’ll make that to-do list.  It can really put things in perspective for you and potentially help you stay organized and motivated.  There are a lot of negative consequences that come with procrastination, and I believe the worst one is regret.  I also believe that opportunities only come to you when you’re actively working toward your goal.  You’re not going to get that promotion simply because you arrive at your cubicle on time every day, and you’re not going to sell the greatest invention of all time to millions of people across the world by sitting on the couch.  What are you waiting for?

One Response to Overcome Procrastination

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