So, what have you told yourself you are going to start doing yesterday (or last year) and you still haven’t started?
- Eating better
- Working less
- Treating your family better
- Getting more work done in less time
- Learning something new
- Journaling every day
- Getting a promotion
- Starting your own business
We all do it! We fail to keep our promises to ourselves. Our brain tells us that it’s not important… that staying where you are is OK. I mean, you’ve accomplished a lot in your life – maybe you have things that you never thought you’d have. It’s time to sit back and enjoy, right?
Or, maybe you are someone who always thinks you should be doing or having more, so you’re super busy “chasing the dream.” You know you should be doing some of the things listed above, but who has the time?!?
What can you do?
[OK, a little sidebar here… do you find it funny that you might be procrastinating by reading an article on procrastinating?]
I’m going to offer you a few tips and then invite you to a free webinar to really drive home one of the points.
#1: Break it down
Every time I put something on my to-do list and then keep putting it off, I find that one thing has happened. I didn’t add a task to my to-do list, I added a project.
David Allen, in his book Getting Things Done, says that a task is anything you can do in one step. If it takes two or more steps, it’s a project.
I’ve found many projects on my to-do list. I remember one was “send out Christmas cards.” It seems simple enough, right? WRONG! Think of what my mind saw when it read “send out Christmas cards.” My mind saw all of the steps that I had to take before I ever went to the post office. I had to find mailing addresses, go to the store, buy the cards, write out the cards, buy Christmas stamps (because you can’t possibly use regular American flag forever stamps on Christmas cards!), address the envelopes, seal the envelopes, and go to the post office.
I had this task on my list since October, and I still hadn’t started by December 15th. When I broke it down, I was done in no time.
#2: Create artificial deadlines
Some folks are better at lying to themselves than others. 😉 When you create an artificial deadline, you are putting constraints in your mind. You are making the task (or project) more urgent than it really is.
Folks who are habitually late may set their watch ahead of time or may tell themselves they have to be there at 9:30 when the meeting is really at 10:00.
Instead of just a to-do list, put a deadline on the task.
#3: Be very specific with your timelines
Many folks live by their calendar. So, if it’s not on the calendar, it’s not going to happen. Move your to-do tasks to your calendar! Block off time to accomplish the things that are important to you.
#4: Analyze your tasks
So often I find myself doing tasks that aren’t important now because I failed to look at the value of all the tasks on my list. Often, we just start doing the tasks that we like. This can cause us to procrastinate the tasks that we don’t like.
Don’t use your propensity for a task to derail you. Use the VALUE of the task. By value, I mean look at how it will impact you and others… how it will impact you in the long-term and short-term… how significant it is to your plans, goals, and dreams.
#5: Create an environment that promotes action
Do you know that if you only buy healthy food at the grocery store, you’ll only eat healthy foods at home? Do you know that if you go out to eat and put half of your meal in a take-home box at the beginning of your meal, you won’t overeat?
Make it easier for you to accomplish the goals you have. Do you know that if you have the bank or your company automatically put money into your savings or retirement account, you’ll save more?
Anything in your environment that inhibits you should be removed, or you should move out of that environment.
#6: Set the bar low
What!?! I know that may sound crazy to over-achievers but think about it. You can’t achieve something if you never start. Instead of saying, “I’m going to work out 5 days per week for 60 minutes per day,” you could set the bar lower. Commit to walking for 10 minutes, three times per week. Commit to taking the stairs once a day at work.
Make your task so simple that it’s almost hard NOT to do.
Rather than saying you will meditate for 20 minutes every day, let’s just start at being mindful for 2 minutes three times per week.
#7: Use experiments and curiosity
Now, I know you won’t use every one of these tips, because while they may work for me, you don’t have my brain. These probably won’t all work for you, but I bet at least one of them will.
So, that brings me to another tip. If you are a perfectionist or have perfectionistic tendencies, you will often procrastinate trying something new for fear that you won’t do it perfectly.
That’s when it’s best to adopt a curiosity mindset! Let’s put an experiment together. Pick one of the tips above that you think might possibly work. Now, let’s test that hypothesis! Let’s experiment.
What is the goal of an experiment? (Do you remember learning this in elementary school?) The goal of an experiment is to either PROVE or DISPROVE the hypothesis. There is no PASS or FAIL here. If you prove the hypothesis, that’s great. If you disprove the hypothesis, that’s great! We’ve learned what didn’t work, and we have the opportunity to change a variable and try it again.
You can’t fail when you experiment!
#8: Understand yourself
The more you learn about how you think, what motivates you, and your behavioral tendencies, the more you can use this information to overcome your procrastination. You see, procrastination is a lack of self-leadership.
Some people complain that they lack self-discipline. What is self-discipline? Many folks think that it’s willpower… that it’s the ability to do the things that you don’t like to do.
Discipline comes from the word “disciple.” A disciple is a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher. So, SELF-discipline is really about you studying YOU!
I want to help you with this last one because it will help you more than the other seven combined.
Join me on November 7, 2019, for a free webinar! This webinar will walk you through the 7 Keys to Overcoming Procrastination & Mastering Your Life. We will start at 11:34 AM CT / 12:34 PM ET / 9:34 AM PT and the session will last about 75 minutes.