Procrastination – the act of delaying or postponing something; the promise you’ve made to yourself but broken; the goal you’ve set but let slide; the menacing cloud of uncompleted chores, from the late bill payments to the clutter that fills your home; the appointment you’ve been putting off and the finances still in disarray. It’s the dawdling, delaying, opportunities lost, and so much more.
Well, not today.
Change your ‘someday’ thinking with my five practical steps you can take to stop procrastinating.
#1 Stop Procrastinating – be true to yourself
The first and often hardest step is, to be honest with yourself about what you’re procrastinating over. Recognise what it is, call it out and put it on the table with a bright light shining over it. Brushing it under the carpet and hoping it’ll go away is not the answer. It won’t go away. Fact.
Say it, call it, own it.
#2 Stop Procrastinating – what’s your motivation?
A catalyst for change or for getting things done is never a matter of ability; it’s a matter of motivation. What motivates you to do what you do is based on one of two things: avoiding pain or gaining pleasure.
When you find yourself procrastinating, it’s either because the pleasure you’ll get from doing it isn’t strong enough to pull you towards it, or you haven’t experienced enough pain to give you the impetus you need to take action. You’re drifting in ‘no man’s land’ until one of these levers kicks in.
Identify which lever is absent or not strong enough, and understand the driver behind it. For example, the closing date is ages away; I’ll put off completing those forms a little longer (lack of pain), or I need to get back in the gym, but if I’m honest, I don’t see any difference when I go (lack of pleasure).
#3 Stop Procrastinating – is your WHY big enough
So #3 links with #2. Most people make decisions based first on the avoidance of pain. So in the absence of pain, there will be no action. For example, I’ll cancel the dentist appointment because my toothache has stopped. I won’t have that awkward conversation because the problem has ‘kind of’ gone away. I won’t quit my job because today was an OK day.
While pain is usually the catalyst for action, pleasure is the continuation of action. If your WHY for doing something is big enough, you’ll stop looking over the fence and decide it’s time to look at the opportunity (or task or challenge) before you and find what is good in it. A compelling WHY will give you the best reason to do just that. Find your compelling WHY.
#4 Stop Procrastinating – you’ll achieve little
There’s a proverbial mid-18th-century saying, ‘Procrastination is the thief of time‘ which means if you continually put things off, ultimately, you’ll achieve little.
When procrastination gives way to crystal clarity and attention, work is devoured without hesitation, and giving up never occurs to you – it doesn’t even exist in your vocabulary or thoughts! It is a game-changer to shift your mindset from putting it off to getting it done.
#5 Stop Procrastinating – take action today
Take one thing you’ve been procrastinating about and sort it immediately. Make the appointment, have the conversation, draft your action plan, complete the forms – whatever it is you’ve been putting off, do it today. It will be like taking a massive weight off your shoulders. One of my all-time favourite quotes is short, sharp, and to the point. ‘Do or do not do. There is no try’.
Other topics you may find interesting
How to stay focused: 3 essential lessons
Overwhelmed? How to focus on controlling the controllable
How to get motivated: 5 drivers to what makes you tick