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Beating Procrastination

The key to stopping procrastination is to identify which type it is and change your behavior.

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Are you a procrastinator? Many of us have the tendency to put things off and no matter how often we beat ourselves up over waiting to the last minute to pack for a vacation, book a flight, or file our taxes and struggle to get it all done in time, we keep doing it again and again. If you’re ready to finally beat procrastination and get ahead of the game, you’re in the right place. 

In this blog post, I’m going to share my best tips and strategies for overcoming procrastination with you and we start today with – Forgiveness. I know it seems like a strange place to start, but it’s an important first step. Here is why forgiving yourself for procrastination should always be the first step. 

Here’s the thing. There’s nothing you can do about the past except learn from it. Beating yourself up about not following the plan you made for reaching a goal does you no good. Quite the opposite actually. If you stress yourself out and engage in negative self-talk, you make it worse. Those feelings of anxiety will enforce your habit to procrastinate again the next time. 

The next time you find yourself procrastinating, tell yourself that it’s okay. It’s not the end of the world. Say it out loud and then promise yourself to try to do better. Trying is the important keyword here. You’re working on mastering a new skills and changing a habit. That takes practice, time, and of course failing again and again. It’s part of the learning process. 

You may feel frustrated at times about your lack of progress. It’s normal. If you can, tap into that frustration and use it to motivate you. Vow to try again and do better. Look at your mistakes. What caused you to procrastinate this time? Learn from it and you will start to do better. 

Maybe there’s a big task and you started strong, chipping away at it a little at a time. Then you missed a day, and another. That’s okay. Not great, but okay. You did well for a while. It’s good practice and maybe this particular experience taught you that you can’t allow yourself to skip more than one day on an ongoing project

There’s always something new to learn whenever we fail at something or slip back into a bad habit. At the very least we figure out that something isn’t working for us. Maybe you do better with three or less to-do’s per day. Maybe you need twenty-five so there’s always something to check off. You won’t know until you try. 

Forgive yourself for procrastinating so you can move on and practice some more. 

The key to stopping procrastination is to identify which type it is and change your behavior.

No more excuses or procrastination. Stop allowing your days to be stolen by busy nothingness.

Dr. Steve Maraboli

3 Step Process

Getting over procrastination takes action. Of course, that is easier said than done. Allow me to share a simple three-step process with you that will help you get off your butt and get more done than you ever thought possible.

Set A Goal

You have to know what it is you want to accomplish. if you don’t know what your goal is, it’s hard to know what you should be doing first or what you should be doing right now to move in the right direction. So what do we do instead? Anything other than the work we know needs to get done

Set A Goal

your goal is simply putting what you know you need to get done into words. A good goal has defined parameters and a set deadline. That doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s a simple goal we all strive to accomplish. We have to file our taxes by April 15th. You have a pretty good idea of what paperwork you need, what forms you need to fill out, and where you need to turn them in. You also know what your deadline is. In other words, you have a well-defined goal when it comes to filing your income taxes. And yes, I realized most of us still procrastinate when it comes to this particular task. That’s why the remaining steps are just as important as the first one. For now, I want you to think about one thing you need to get done and turn it into a goal.

Write It Down

I don’t care if you find a random scrap of paper, use your favorite notebook, or type a note to yourself on your phone. The important part is that you put your goal into writing. This does two things. First of all, it helps you clarify what your goal is. You have to get pretty specific when you try to put what you want or need to do into words. Secondly, writing it down gives you something to look back on. It serves as a reminder and as a tool that you can use when you are tempted to procrastinate. 

Get Started

Get Started

Last but not least, it’s time to get started. That’s often the hardest part, isn’t it? You’re tempted to skip your workout until you lace up your shoes and get started. Once you’re off and running, it’s much easier to keep going. Once you have your goal written down, think about something you can do right now to move you in the right direction. Go do that. Then come back and do something else. Each morning, start by looking at your goal and challenge yourself to take action. Before you know it, you will have made some serious progress. And you’re starting to beat procrastination. 

4 Types of Procrastination

Anxious Procrastination

Neil Fiore, the author of The Now Habit, defined procrastination as “a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision.” Fiore suggested that people who procrastinate a lot are usually bad at managing their time and often end up scheduling in more work than they can actually do, leaving no time for fun activities or resting. By not fulfilling these unrealistic expectations it causes stress and anxiety which some people deal with by procrastinating.

How To Beat It:

Fiore suggested the “unschedule” as a way to combat this anxiety-driven procrastination.  The unschedule method involves filling your schedule with fun activities and rest before scheduling any work. For example, if you find yourself checking Facebook for 15 minutes at 3 pm every afternoon, schedule in Facebook time first and plan your work around that. This scheduled fun or downtime will give you the chance to relax and prevent you from over scheduling.

Fun Procrastination

The fun procrastinator would rather be doing anything except that one dreaded task like paper shredding. After all, there are so many fun and exciting things you could be doing instead, how can you bear to start that boring project?

How To Beat It:

If there’s absolutely no way you’re going to start on that one dreaded task, try indulging in some structured procrastination. You’re going to procrastinate anyway so why not make it useful? Give in to your desire to procrastinate, but instead of watching videos of kittens on YouTube, start another item on your to do list. By starting another item first, you’ve made the dreaded task a lower priority which (in theory) will make you dread it a lot less, and in the meantime, you’re still being productive. It’s a win-win.

“Plenty Of Time” Procrastination

Many people find it difficult to start a project when they know the deadline is a long way off. This type of procrastination is clearly visible in students who often struggle to start an essay earlier than a few days before the deadline. You may also have tasks that don’t have deadlines. Take a look at your to-do list. Chances are you have at least one item that you’ve been putting off for weeks if not months. It’s something you want to do, you know it will make things better in the long run, but you keep putting it off.

How To Beat It:

Set your own deadline.

The implications? By setting yourself deadlines and announcing them publicly, you will not only be able to get your work done, but you’ll do a good job of it. Try setting deadlines and telling your friends, family, and co-workers about them. This public commitment should keep you on track and motivate you to meet those deadlines.

Perfectionist Procrastination

Perfectionists are always striving for the best and, as such, are constantly criticizing their own work. For some perfectionists, the fear of failing, or producing work to a low standard, can be so overwhelming they never actually get around to starting anything.

How To Beat It:

Procrastinating can actually be a good thing for perfectionists…

As long as you have a lot of time to do a task, you can fantasize about doing a perfect job. Leaving it till the last minute is a way of giving oneself permission to do a merely adequate job. 99 percent of the time a merely adequate job is all that is needed. Try looking back at the last 5 jobs you completed. Were they all perfect? Probably not. Were they sufficient? Chances are you’re already working to a high standard so stop giving yourself a hard time

Identifying times when you didn’t do the perfect job, but the consequences were the same as if you did, will help you to overcome your perfectionist routine and stop procrastinating.

“Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow, what should have been done the day before yesterday”.

Napoleon Hill

Conclusion

Procrastinators can stop procrastinating if they truly understand its causes, misconceptions, and prevention. Understanding the “why” behind our inability to start, allows us to develop effective strategies for getting started on our important projects now, rather than waiting for tomorrow.

Procrastination is more about our emotions than our tendencies for laziness or just being “bad at deadlines”. We ALL get distracted with environmental causes, such as technology and other unrelated tasks. We can easily beat procrastination by following the 4 simple steps listed above to overcome it.

Related Link: How-To-Beat-Procrastination

Theresa A Simons

Theresa A Simons

Theresa is a family woman, an entrepreneur, the bold & visionary Founder of PaperChaseSolutions.com and Co-Founder of ATS L.E.D. Suppliers. Theresa manages Bermuda’s first full LED showroom, happily delivers expert advice on filing & storage, scanning, photo-copying, invoicing & billing, collection calling, and document shredding. She enjoys writing, cooking, and travelling.

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