I’ve been observing a lot of chitty-chat surrounding his uncanny ability to be hanging out with everyone on the interwebz, this time of the year.
That boy is busy like Santa, intent on ensuring everyone is gifted by his presence.
You know who I’m talking about don’t you?
Mr.Procrastination – an oft-time companion to us all.
Which is why I thought it would be fitting to do a pre-christmas post about serving up Mr. Procrastination (but only if you want to!) with a small side of getting things done.
These are the things I know about procrastination – what works for me, and has been known to work for many of my clients.
(Disclaimer – I still procrastinate, just not as much as I used to).
Reasons for procrastinating
FEAR (I’m going to fail).
OVERWHELM (My mind is all over the place and I don’t know where to start).
PERFECTIONISM (It has to be just right. I’ll get to it right as soon as I get A, B and C right).
STRESS (see overwhelm).
LACK OF COMMITMENT (It’s not a big enough priority right now).
NOT KNOWING ENOUGH (I’ve never done it before. I don’t know how to do it).
LACK OF ORGANISATION (Ahh, it’s just a mess!).
The above reasons share a common thread. They all have the ability to increase stress, which leads to….more procrastination.
Our brains are hard-wired to seek out pleasure and avoid pain whenever they can. So, we think about the amount of work that needs to be done in the next week, have an internal freak-out and claim a justification such as “I’ll do it tomorrow. Right now I really need to clean the bathroom. It’s filth”.
Procrastinating also seems like the easier option when energy levels are low, particularly as a deadline looms. You begin to berate yourself for being a lazy-ass.
But the fact is, you’re not. You’re just like everyone else – a lovely semi-kind of normal.
1. Stop seeing procrastination as the enemy
No, you’re not a slovenly creature who lacks willpower and discipline. You’re just in ‘flight’, avoiding the pain caused by the perception of too much work, too soon.
You’re overwhelmed by the supposed enormity of the task and under-whelmed with motivation.
When you find yourself deeply entrenched in a conversation with Mr Procrastination, pull yourself out of it by asking yourself what is going on right now?
What is the reason for your procrastination? How are you feeling within your body?
What’s the pay-off for procrastinating in this instance? Often, just by reflecting and identifying , getting to the heart of the matter, we feel more empowered to take some action.
When the overwhelm is replaced by something more tangible, we reduce its power over us.
2. Get clear about what you really want.
Make a list of all the stuff you need to get done. Do a massive brain dump – don’t analyse, just get it all out.
Then divide your list into little stuff (small things that need to get done soon, like paying a bill), medium stuff (less time-sensitive but important such as catching up with friends) and big stuff (important but longer term, such as organizing a family holiday next year or business plans).
Now it’s up to you how you want to tackle it. Sometimes by doing all the small stuff first I can get through 10 things in one afternoon, which provides a much-needed boost to motivation and an end to procrastinating.
Other times, if I look at the ‘big stuff’ and begin to chunk it down, I have a much clearer vision of my long-term goals, which leads to a lot of feel good and additional motivation.
The one thing I strongly recommend is to have three things every day that are non-negotiable. They must be things that are important to you and no-one else. Things that are going to boost your physical and mental well-being. If you do this every day, your motivation and energy levels will increase, stress will decrease, and so will the urge to procrastinate.
3. Do Less.
Once you have sorted out your lists according to your personal priorities – own it!
Forget about deadlines where you can (the self-imposed ones). Take longer. Stop promising things you can’t deliver and learn to say “No” where you can.
Ensure you have personal boundaries and limits to what you take on. Sometimes it takes a lot of practice to lessen your people-pleasing and increase your ability to use a simple “No” when required.
4. Inject some fun into your day, every day.
If procrastination is heightened by stress, reduce that stress by having 15-minute fun breaks.
Seriously, how many 4 year olds do you see procrastinating? They’re too busy caught up in the moment, squeezing every little drop of fun out of the day.
As I’ve mentioned before, having fun reduces stress, helps us connect with the present moment and heightens clarity.
So put some music on and dance around like a silly person. Belt out those old-school tunes that captivated you when you were 15 or chase some rainbows when you’re driving (maybe). Then, when you are all hyped, bake christmas pies, phone a client, and get er done!
5. Get some structure and supports in place
Success or failure in life is found in your daily routine ~ Keith Brown
While having fun is highly under-rated, having routines and systems improves productivity in day-to-day life and therefore reduces the urge to procrastinate.
Brush up on your routines. If you want to develop healthy habits like doing exercise, then schedule it.
If you want to prevent having to spend 20 minutes hunting down the power bill, then have an in-tray or some method of organizing all your paper work.
If you want to start your day feeling ahead of the game, go to bed earlier so you can get up earlier. Have some coffee and start writing, take 10 minutes to read or watch something inspirational.
Do something that inspires you as soon as you wake up and observe the difference it makes to your mind-set for the rest of the morning.
With a few systems in place, procrastinating becomes a little less appealing because you have some order and a clear method of approach.
6. Remember the why
Remembering the “why” is possibly one of the most important but often over-looked methods for preventing procrastination and getting things done.
The secret is to focus on the outcome of your work and not the work itself.
So, if we use Christmas day as an example:
- Focus on how great you will feel when everyone is together, enjoying the day.
- Imagine the gratitude and the sense of accomplishment you will have when your work is completed.
- Focus on your loved ones and the benefits for you all.
Keep the big picture in mind and get busy….at least until christmas is over!
Stop procrastinating and get stuff done.