Let’s talk about how to overcome procrastination.
This is a topic I’ve discussed in many different places. But if it’s relevant anywhere, it’s in a class on Time Management. So I want to dive into it here.
Why do people procrastinate?
We procrastinate because we lack either (a) motivation or (b) clarity.
When we lack motivation, the task we are putting off just doesn’t sound as exciting as doing something — anything! — else.
Think about it: when you are excited about a task, you don’t procrastinate doing it. You get right to it! If your year-end bonus came in and it was $100,000 — you’d go cash that check as fast as possible. You’d be motivated!
Secondly, when you lack clarity, it’s like having decision fatigue. You’re not sure where or how to get started on a big project. Or, you have so many awesome ideas and projects that you’re not sure which one to pick from and so you pick none.
How to overcome procrastination today
You overcome procrastination today by doing one or all of these:
- Plan ahead.
- Start small.
- Get accountability.
- Stay focused.
Let’s dive in to each one…
Plan ahead for tomorrow.
Don’t just do your task today, instead plan to do it tomorrow. I do this every day.
I list out my most important tasks and then I figure out WHEN I’m going to do thenm.
This combination of what and when is so powerful. Trust me.
You can do this as well. Figure out what is most important for you to do tomorrow. Then…
- When are you going to do it?
- What are you going to do during that time?
- Go tell someone about it.
As I mentioned in the lesson on 5 minute rule, we often put things off because they are daunting. Instead of looking at the whole big project, look at a small part of it.
What is one thing you can do now that is actual progress (not just re-shuffling the cards)?
It also helps to get started if you can lower your activation energy.
Do this by preparing ahead of time so that there’s less work to be done to get started. For a writer, this could be having an editorial calendar. For going to the gym it could be setting out your gym clothes. For a stay-at-home mom or dad this could be meal-planning.
Get accountability and/or community
When you’re on the hook to others for a task / project then you’re far more likely to accomplish it.
When it’s time to do that thing, put the goal or task right in front of you. What do you want to be working on right now? Write that down on a sticky note or something and if, at any point, you start doing something else, stop it.
Also, feel free to write down everything you’re not going to be doing while you’re working on your current task at hand. Things such as Facebook, email, Twitter, Instagram, reading the news, playing games on your phone. If you notice you’re doing one of those things, stop it. You’re procrastinating.
(We talk more about this as well with the section on dealing with distractions and interruptions.)
Beating Procrastination today helps with tomorrow
If you want to change your life, you have to change the things you do daily. Overcoming your procrastination today will help you overcome it tomorrow.
The little things you do today to move the needle forward will help you build up your personal integrity so that in the future you’re less prone to procrastinating.
By taking small steps today, you’ll be amazed at the results it will bring about in the future if you stick with it.