Let’s face it for a moment.
That thing we normally hide in the shadows, in the dark, where no one can see it, sense it or even smell it.
That dirty little secret we hide away, not just from others, but also from ourselves….
That’s right, we hide our procrastination, not just from others, but also from ourselves. We hide it away, in the shadows, where no-one (not even us!) will see it.
We deceive, lie, cajole, and trick ourselves into believing the stories that keep us procrastinating:
- It’ll take too long.
- I’ll just check if Amy has emailed me back.
- I can’t do it right now, I don’t have _________
- And the list goes on, and on, and on
We keep ourselves in the dark, about what we’re procrastinating, why we are resisting, and even the fact that we are procrastinating at all!
Before we get into what to do about this, and how to deal with it, let’s also take a moment to bask in the glory of the truth:
99.9% of the time procrastination is worse than what we should actually be doing.
By “worse” I mean the procrastination (whatever form that takes) takes more time, energy, effort and drains us more than if we simply stepped up, and did what we were supposed to.
Now I get it, it’s never pleasant to face up to those tasks we don’t want to do, but when we actually do, in almost all cases, it’s far easier to do the task than it is to resist it.
I recently had 3 tasks I had been resisting doing, and had been procrastinating on. They would take ages and would be difficult and hard to do.
So I kept resisting them. Not doing them. Letting them fall to the bottom of the pile, or head off and browse Facebook. Until one day, finally, I decided to tackle these 3 tough and incredibly difficult tasks.
Two of them were quite challenging, I thought they’d take around 30 to 45 minutes, the other was easier, but I still thought it would take 15 or 20 minutes. So I knuckled down and prepared myself for a couple of hours of work.
That’s right, it only took 15 minutes, not just to complete one of the tasks but actually to complete all 3 of them!
All that resistance, all that effort to avoid doing what (in the end) took only 15 minutes!
Of course not all resistance is like this, sometimes it does take a long time to do a task after all – but almost always it is easier than we expect it to be. Whether this is measured in time, energy, effort, enjoyment factor or a combination of these.
If you’ve got this far, congratulations! You are now prepared to face the truth of your procrastination, and to take action and deal to it. So let’s do it!
1. Acknowledge, Observe and Be Aware
By being prepared to face the truth of your procrastination you’ve actually started taking the first step. The first step is to be conscious of what it is you’re resisting doing. Whether it’s sorting your accounts, or calling that difficult client, be honest and open about what you are procrastinating on.
Part of this step is also becoming aware of why you are procrastinating.
This is a crucial key to the puzzle, sometimes we’re avoiding something because it’s new and challenging, like me you may be facing something that is a complete unknown.
Often this is scary and you can be afraid of what you need to face.
As you identify why you are procrastinating, it also can lead to solutions to help you stop. For example if it is something new and challenging maybe you want someone to help you with it, this could be a friend to come clean out the garage with you, or a professional to help you learn how to do it. This also helps you see ways to make the task easier and more approachable.
Some tasks may not be appropriate for you. You don’t have to do everything you are procrastinating on. For example: you may be thinking about refurbishing some chairs, when you know nothing about woodwork, or even upholstery. You can keep resisting this task until the cows come home, or you can hire someone to do it for you, or buy some new chairs.
Of course please don’t use this as an excuse to not do things that need to be done! If you need to make sales calls, then they need to be done. No-one can go to the dentist for you – you have to do that. Be sensible about what you outsource, delete, or get someone else to do!
2. Schedule It In & Be Accountable
The next step is to put it in your schedule, it won’t get done unless it has a time and a place to have it happen. This step does depend on how disciplined you are with your time….
If you’re like me and you are self employed, it can be quite easy to “do whatever you feel like”, after all you are the boss!
Whether it’s personal tasks or business tasks you are procrastinating on the best way to beat them is to have some discipline with your time.
It doesn’t mean that you have to always follow a schedule or task list (although I can tell you, it helps a lot!) but it does mean you should create dedicated time to get tasks done.
I like dedicated time in the morning, it’s when I have a clear head, and haven’t got caught up in any dramas. I can focus on ticking off the most important items on my list, and start the day on the right foot. This feels good too!
Handle scheduling: It’s one of the keys to getting past procrastination and creating forward momentum.
The second key to step 2 is “Be Accountable”, if you have good self discipline you can be accountable to yourself. But if you keep procrastinating, then you know what you need, someone external to help keep you accountable.
This could be a coach or mentor, it could be a family member or your partner. If it’s exercise you’re doing, it could be a gym buddy – for me I have climbing buddies to go climbing with to help make sure I’m motivated and to make sure it happens.
If you want to turbo charge yourself and move forward rapidly, I can highly recommend having someone to help keep you accountable, and to use as a sounding board to help discover the reasons behind your procrastination and why you are not taking action.
3. Do It
The last step is the easiest: Do It.
Don’t hesitate, don’t resist, don’t put it off or be distracted by Facebook or anything else:
Just Get It Done
This is challenging when you begin, but the more you take action and do what you’re procrastinating on, the easier it becomes. Your take action and “Get It Done” ability is like any skill, and just like your muscles, the more you use it, the stronger it becomes.
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