“Procrastination is the thief of time.”
Edward Young English poet (1683 - 1765)
I am sure I am not the only one who finds themselves some days just faffing around, with no real direction, making cups of tea, hopping from one thing to another but never really getting anything done. We all have days like this, it’s natural and sometimes it’s good just to accept it’s one of those days and allow yourself a break. However when it starts to become more like your reality of every day then you will start to realise how very true Edward Young’s quote really is. Time flies by and if you spend most of it putting things off before you know it you will have let all the things you want to achieve in your life pass you by.
The more you put things off the worse you feel about yourself or the task in hand. You either beat yourself up because you are not on track to achieving your goals or you feel more and more overwhelmed by the task you find most daunting. So why do we do it to ourselves? There are a whole number of reasons that will be personal to you but the most general ones are fear and lack of motivation.
Following are my top 7 tips to overcoming procrastination and getting yourself into action!
- Is what you are doing inspiring to you? When doing something that is linked to our highest values (the feelings we want to feel on a daily basis) we have the energy and motivation for it. We will do anything to make it happen as we want to experience what is important to us. If there is no link then you won’t have any drive to make it happen. Look at your to do list and ask yourself, how can this lead me to what I most want? Until you get this your motivation levels are likely to be low.
- What will be the benefits of getting this task done? What will be the “pain” or consequences if you don’t get it done? Human beings are driven by pleasure and pain, we will do anything to avoid feelings that are painful to us and anything to feel good. When the consequences are bad enough and the benefits are attractive enough you will be driven into action.
- Overwhelm can lead us to procrastinate so break what you have to get done into small manageable chunks and plan in your diary when you are going to do each bit. Then just pick one thing. One small thing just to get you started. If you do just that then be pleased with yourself, but you never know it might just get you started to carry on with a bit more.
- Set rewards, if it’s something you really don’t want to do but have to, for the greater cause, then plan to treat yourself afterwards. Do something to reward yourself for getting it out of the way.
- Pick the thing you are most putting off and do it first. The longer you put something off the bigger it gets in your mind, the more energy you use thinking about it and the more effort it feel like it will be. I have a pet name for these tasks…..monsters! Get your monster done first and then you are free to enjoy the rest of your day. Often they are not that bad anyway, it’s just the thought of doing it that makes it worse than it really is and being in action even though you feel a bit scared is a sure fire way to raise your self confidence.
- Give yourself a deadline. If the thing you are putting off is not imposed on you by someone else and does not have a deadline then it’s easy to just let it slip. If you really want to get something done with urgency, set yourself a deadline and then tell people close to you about it. Our human nature of wanting to look good to others will then kick in and drive us to want to get it done on time!
- If there is something continuously on your to do list, something you always set goals around but you just never get there then perhaps it’s time to have a rethink? Do you actually really want to achieve it? Sometimes we set our selves goals around what we think we “should” achieve, based on other peoples values and aspirations. However, these are other people’s dreams and what is right for them might not be want you really want deep down, then you simply won’t have the drive to make it happen. Goals like this are best left to the people whose dreams they are, instead create something for yourself that really gets you excited and inspired.
Finally.... sometimes the kindest thing you can do for yourself if you are really having "one of those days" is to just go out and do something completely different instead!!! Something that you'd like to that will make you smile and really enjoy doing it. Often when we take the pressure off it happens naturally, our creative juices start to flow and our energy for what ever it is returns. If it doesn't then, as above, is it really something you want to be doing anyway?
Have a great weekend!