Procrastination is much more than just putting off tasks – it’s the fear of action that’s really the problem.
I was at a conference last week and one of the speakers said that ‘procrastination is another form of fear’, it’s so true only we can’t see it like that ourselves. I also think it’s a lack of clarity on what you are trying to achieve – if you are completely clear what you should be working on right now – and why – procrastination will struggle to derail you.
We all get it though, and there’s lots of things you can throw at it, so when you find yourself heading to the fridge or scrolling FB way too often (per hour!), first check in with yourself.
What task am I avoiding and for what reason?
What would happen if I completed this task?
Usually bringing your awareness to what’s going on helps instead of just going round and round in inaction and frustration.
We usually have a little story our mind is telling us and so developing this self-awareness is pretty powerful. You won’t necessarily be aware of the story but soon you’ll learn to smile at your mind and its stories, before saying ‘thanks for keeping me safe, but I’m all good to take action now’!
So first start with that naughty mind to find out what you are afraid of and then move on to these top tips to help move you out of inaction:
1.Reconnect – If we are doing a task we just don’t feel excited by it’s likely we will head to the fridge more than necessary (or Facebook if that’s your procrastination ‘thing’).
So whenever I am setting goals for my business I also write down what my ‘why’ is for this particular goal. It helps to check in with this ‘why’ whenever I’m not feeling the love to knuckle down and tackle it.
If there isn’t a compelling why then you probably shouldn’t be doing the task anyway!
2. Get yourself an external deadline – as soon as you publicly declare your intention or goal it’s more likely it will happen.
Here’s an example from my own business: I had been talking about hosting my first webinar for at least 4 months before I actually did one I always managed to find an ‘excuse’ i.e I was letting fear drive the car!
In the end I had to create the registration page and share it with my list – as soon as people started registering I had an external deadline enforced on me. No more opportunity for the excuses to win!
This helped me focus on getting the content created. External deadlines work well but even giving yourself a deadline for every goal will help, although holding yourself accountable is not an easy task so perhaps get an Accountability buddy.
Don’t set a goal without a deadline otherwise it’s just a dream!
3. Eliminate distractions – you are setting yourself up for failure if, when you sit down to do a task that requires focus, you still have your inbox open and FB pings flying in.
Turn off your phone, shut down your inbox and close down all social media apps. Multitasking is a myth – so instead allow yourself to be 100% focused on one task to give yourself the best chance of success.
Just make it easy for yourself – turn everything off and focus! And if you have to let your family / team members know that you aren’t available for the next 60 minutes, do it. Again make it easy for yourself by setting up your environment to be distraction free.
If you think you can’t get rid of distractions I would suggest that this is fear popping up somewhere….
4. Use the ‘Pom’ – just focus on starting rather than finishing. Use the Pomodoro Technique to do 25 minutes of undistracted time and just start. You may find you just needed to get started – which often feels like the tough bit.
Just use this time to tackle the first step of the task and allow momentum to carry you through. Don’t think about the finish, just the very next step that you need to do. For more details on how the Pomodoro Technique works go here.
5. Front load your day – Schedule time at the start of your day for getting important tasks completed. We only have a limited supply of motivation (unfortunately) so when it runs out for the day it’s not easy to remain focused.
Most of the super successful folk out there live by their power mornings. Make the first 90 minutes of your work day the best by not checking email or social media, turning your phone off and just focusing on you most important task.
As soon as you check email your day will go into reaction mode, reacting to other people’s demands and needs over your own. Wait until you have tackled one MIA (Most Important Action) before checking in on the world. This alone will change things for you.
Bonus Top tip – always break down your goals into really small tasks, that way they are easy to get done – just do the very next task and don’t look at the goal as one big, overwhelming, ‘don’t know where to start’ thing.
As one of my mentors says, all the tools work, so just ‘throw everything at it’ and get taking action.
I’d love to know – What do you find really useful when you need to tame the procrastination tiger? Share your tools below so we can all gang up on it!
Love a ‘recovering procrastinator’