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And that thought birthed an idea for a series.
This limitation creates big roadblocks for many people, including me. In fact, as I worked on this post, it felt like I was talking to myself. Read the tips in Going Beyond Procrastination and let me know if this is something you also struggle with!
What is Procrastination?
By definition, procrastination is the practice of delaying or postponing something such as an action or task. You have a deadline looming and yet instead of working on the project, you check email, scroll through social media feeds or watch funny videos on YouTube. There’s nothing wrong with any of those activities, however, you are stalling and ultimately placing pressure on yourself when that deadline absolutely must be met.
Procrastination can range from minor stalling to an inability to complete daily tasks. Reasons for procrastinating include setting indefinite, abstract goals, disconnection from true desires, overwhelm, anxiety, perfectionism and a dislike of certain tasks such as car maintenance.
This tendency to put off doing what you know needs doing isn’t so much a disorder to cure as a practice to shift.
If you find yourself procrastinating frequently and seek change, check out these tips for going beyond procrastination.
Reduce the Number of Decisions You Need to Make
Planning out the day, before you get up in the morning, goes a long way toward eliminating the tendency to procrastinate and waste energy throughout the day.
Instead of making decisions on the spot, moment by moment, plan out your day, your week, your month or your year in advance. When your plans are written out on paper it frees thoughts, which are energy too, from swirling around in your head. You don’t have to wonder what to do next…it’s written down.
Schedule reoccurring activities like walking, yoga, creative time, appointments, journaling, meditating and classes. Then you don’t have to decide, “Do I walk…or go to the store?”
Choose your outfit the night before. Establish a morning and nighttime routine.
Create habits for tasks you don’t like, such as housework. Make it fun or power through it…just do it. These are things that must be done no matter what, the non-negotiables.
A helpful way to organize thoughts, make plans and prevent procrastination is through list making.
According to studies, we are 33% more likely to achieve goals and get tasks done if we make lists.
Using a planner or a simple notebook, create monthly lists of blog and social media posts and appointments, weekly scheduled activities and daily to-do tasks.
Prioritize by starting with the ONE big thing that needs to get ticked off the daily list. Check that activity off as early in the day as possible. It’s your most important task.
Break the rest of the list into doable tasks and attach action steps to them. Any deadlines for the day, week or month? Write those down too, so you don’t have to continually think about them.
Work in Time Blocks
You’ll get more done, without overwhelm or burn out, breaking the day into time blocks.
This scheduling method is a technique for time management. Break the day into small periods of time…typically an hour to three hours…for specific tasks and to-dos. During that block of time, focus only on the tasks or activities scheduled.
A simple but effective time blocking schedule might include breakfast, then threes hours for accomplishing your most important task, lunch, then two hours dedicated to other tasks and to-dos, afternoon break, then two hours for exercise, minor tasks, creativity or taking a class. Make the time blocking work for you. And stick with it. No procrastinating or avoiding the things you know you need to get done.
Create a Supportive Environment
To lessen procrastination, surround yourself with an environment that supports you and helps you get your tasks done.
Whether you work at home or in an office, tackle the space that you spend the most time in.
Declutter. A room or desk full of clutter creates disorganized energy. It doesn’t feel good and it’s not conducive to productivity. Have a place for everything, even if your system doesn’t look like someone else’s. Get rid of things you don’t need.
Eliminate distractions. Put your phone on silent. Stay off of social media unless that’s the task you are working on. Turn off the television.
Surround yourself with what inspires and motivates you. Hang up a vision board. Frame inspirational quotes. Create a personal manifesto and keep it nearby to read often. Play music that uplifts the spirit or boosts creativity. Display family photos, travel mementos and artwork.
Check for Alignment
Sometimes, the things we put off doing are things we really don’t want to do. I’m not talking about household chores or taking the dog for a walk. I mean things that no longer align with who you are and what you most want to do.
If you find yourself avoiding certain tasks, take time to check inward and see if those activities still align with your passion. If not, it’s time to shift away from them. Step down from committees that you no longer feel strongly about. Stop the activities that bore you. Say “the end” to the work that no longer interests you.
Focus on the tasks and activities that make your heart sing and light up your face when you talk about them. These are the priorities that go at the top of your to-do lists.
The truth is, we find the time and a way to do the things we really want to do. And, if we are avoiding or postponing activities, then they are no longer what we really want to do.
One of my favorite ways to spur myself onward, when I have a big project to complete, is to reward myself when it’s done.
I personally avoid rewarding myself with food, as that was an old habit that wasn’t healthy. Instead, I might go for a walk in nature or visit a city, watch a movie, putter in the garden or play an online game.
And often the reward is the accomplishment itself or the incredible high level energy I feel.
Shifting a Task I Disliked
This is a real life example of a task I frequently procrastinated on and how I shifted.
I dislike washing dishes. I’ve never, in my lifetime, lived in a house with a dishwasher. I am the dishwasher. And I often postponed washing up, letting dishes accumulate in the sink, which made it even more difficult to make myself go into the kitchen to clean up.
I used tip number one to avoid procrastination, creating a habit to complete a task that I don’t like. Initially, I made this rule: no dishes in the sink by the time I go to bed. That meant I sometimes washed dishes at midnight, no matter how tired I was.
Soon I discovered I loved walking into a clean kitchen every morning. The energy of a ready for the day kitchen far exceeded the energy required to empty the sink each night.
And then, I realized I loved walking into a clean kitchen all the time. It became easier and easier to wash up immediately after a meal. The satisfaction of an empty sink and clean kitchen, always, is the reward and the habit evolved over time after I made one unbreakable rule about washing dishes.
Are You a Procrastinator?
I admit I was and I still fall into procrastination sometimes. Doing so is my nudge to check within to see what’s going on. Is the activity no longer in alignment with who I am becoming? Do I need to shift and create a no matter what rule? Or do my lists require some adjustment?
Going beyond procrastination is a continuing area of growth for me.
What about you? Are you a procrastinator? Tell me about the areas you struggle in. I hope these tips are helpful for you in going beyond and creating meaningful shifts in your life.
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