We all do it. Most of us are guilty of procrastinating. And we all have times when we wish to stop procrastinating and putting things off.
All too often when we know we need to get started on a task, we find something else to do instead. Getting started on, and then finishing our tasks is a mindset as much as anything. And there it is, our mind needs to be our ally if we want to be able to consistently stop procrastinating.
We watch cat videos on YouTube when we should be finishing that proposal. We end up looking at the 2008 holiday photos of a friend’s cousin’s sister’s mate on Facebook.
When you work from home especially, the temptation of finding something else to do instead is always there! Binging on Netflix, opening the fridge every half-hour (you know, in case something new and tasty showed up since you last checked), heck, even packing away the laundry (it shouldn’t really take two hours). And of course, sanitizing the whole bathroom instead of getting to what really matters.
There are a few reasons why we procrastinate, either because we want to avoid negative emotions, or because we want to avoid (perceived) negative tasks.
Whatever your reason, if you don’t do something about it, and learn how to stop
Even worse than that, you are living way below your own potential.
The causes of procrastination
A big reason why we procrastinate is because of fear.
Fear keeps us playing small and it stops us from showing up.
We are afraid that we will fail. We are afraid that others will judge us.
We suffer from imposter syndrome – fearing that people will find out we are frauds. And ultimately we are afraid that we are not good enough.
We are afraid that we will be successful. Ridiculous statement? Nope. Why else do we sabotage ourselves?
Our fear shows up in the little things we don’t do, and the choices we make when we procrastinate on doing the things that can make a difference in our wellbeing, our relationships, our health and ultimately in our lives.
Speaking as a recovering perfectionist here, this totally sucks. A perfectionist is one of the BIGGEST procrastinators ever. Because perfectionists would rather avoid doing a task than do it imperfectly.
Being a perfectionist is a huge waste of time.
Done is better than perfect.
I once read something which changed the way I looked at my tendency to do things perfectly. I can’t remember the exact words, but the idea made a huge impression on me.
When you procrastinate completing something because you want it to be perfect, you are trying to perfect something that doesn’t exist yet.
3. A lack of structure or planning
When we don’t know what to do next, we tend to waste time and procrastinate.
So really, it’s not necessarily because we are lazy that we procrastinate, but because we lack
This might even have led us to develop a habit of choosing pleasure over discipline, because of the perceived pain of the unknown. However, we pay the price of feeling constantly overwhelmed and under pressure.
Signs that you are procrastinating
- Starting with a task and then stopping to check email or getting up to make coffee
- Being busy the whole day with filler tasks that don’t help you move forward
- Finding all kinds of excuses why not to start on your task
- Waiting to be “in the mood” before you start
How to stop procrastinating and get productive
When you are in the habit of often procrastinating on important tasks, it is a good idea to start tracking your behaviour.
Grab a journal or notebook and keep it handy. Make a note every time you realize that you are procrastinating. Once you have some awareness around your behaviour, it gives you a starting point to create change within yourself.
Use that awareness and the points I have below, to help you overcome procrastination in your small biz or blog.
1. Find your most productive time of day
Are you an early bird? Night owl? Middle-of-the-dayer? (That is a type!).
We all have times when we are at our most productive and creative. Use that time to do the work that requires the most brainpower.
I find that I am most motivated and effective in the mornings. This is the time that I use to perform tasks that require brain power and effort. After lunch, I’m pretty much in the no-go zone, so I make sure I get my creative work done early.
2. Just get started
Often it is the fear of getting started that keeps us back.
You might have experienced it for yourself. Say you have this mammoth task that you keep on pushing out. Then once you finally start, you realize it is not such a big deal after all. We make it bigger in our heads than it should be.
Say this: It’s easier to do what you need to
Remember how I spoke about procrastination due to a lack of structure or process? Well, this is where planning is helpful.
By planning your day, or simply by planning out the next steps, you now have a road map to follow. Now you can use your energy for moving forward instead of treading water, unsure of what to do next.
It can be overwhelming to think about completing some tasks as a whole. Where do you start? What comes first?
However, when you break it down into smaller parts, it becomes more manageable.
Give yourself small goals or milestones.
4. Stop multitasking
You might think that multitasking helps you be more productive, but the opposite is true.
Actually, you are not really “multi-tasking. The way the cognitive processes in your brain work, means it “switches” between each task you do. And there is a little lapse that happens each time you switch.
This split in attention and ensuing lapse, causes your productivity to decrease. It’s no biggie if you are texting and watching YouTube at the same time. But, when you are working on something which requires more brain-power, you become less effective.
If you want to increase output, pay full attention to one task at a time.
Ready to stop procrastinating? Go!
Well, there you have it. I hope these pointers will help you to stop