Stop Procrastinating for Life Success

Procrastination has been a hot topic in my coaching sessions recently. When my clients share their stories, I keep coming up with “oh, they are doing the productive procrastinating thing”. So, this is when we are doing all the other stuff – that “needs” to get done mind you – but we don’t work on the ONE thing, that is a priority. The ONE thing that can move us forward or give us the most relief when completed.

An example: I need to write this blog post. It has a priority because it’s due soon. I mean I do a blog post weekly, to be posted on Monday’s (as of this writing). So here it is, Saturday, and I’m just now starting. Narrowing it down even further, LOOKING AT JUST this morning: I slept in, completed my morning self-care routine (blog post coming soon), played with the cats, chased my husband around in play, cleaned my desk, went through the stack of papers on the floor, re-arranged my office, took the cat outside to lookie at the birds, checked email and Facebook ….. reviewing my open tabs in Chrome, picked up the living room … ErMaGawd, that is a lot of avoidance from my priority task.

From Mind Tools: “Procrastination is the habit of delaying an important task, usually by focusing on less urgent, more enjoyable, and easier activities instead. It is different from laziness, which is the unwillingness to act. Procrastination can restrict your potential and undermine your career. It can also disrupt teamwork, reduce morale, and even lead to depression and job loss. So, it’s crucial to take proactive steps to prevent it.”

In this post, I wanted to talk about some consequences of procrastinating, and tips to help you through your struggle (we’ve ALL been there!).

Consequences of Procrastination:

1. Stress – Stop doing this to yourself!!
  1. Stress from completing tasks last minute
  2. Anxiety from worry that it’s not done
  3. Stress from the overwhelm of all the procrastinating tasks you have on your plate
  4. Guilt from letting yourself or others down
  5. Stress from beating yourself up because you didn’t complete the task yet
  6. Creating beliefs that you can only complete tasks when you are “under pressure”
  7. Stress from the regret of not getting it done
  8. Lack of sleep thinking about it
  9. This list can go on and on. What is something you connect with on a stress level with procrastinating?
2. Losing motivation – read this blog post to get motivation back
3. Feeling stuck in your current situation
4. Gaining a reputation of “procrastinator”

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Becoming aware of your procrastination

Tip: The biggest hurdle that I see with procrastination is becoming aware that you ARE procrastinating. I mean, with my morning activities above, I really wasn’t aware that I was putting off the blog post. I was mindlessly being “busy” or “lazy” or “waking up” – whatever you want to call it. Tip 1, become aware that you are avoiding your task.

Do: These are suggestions on how to become more aware.

  1. Make a priority list of 1-3 tasks the night before or the morning of.
  2. Practice meditation to become more mindful.
  3. Set a reminder on your phone of the task.
  4. Schedule the task into your calendar and think of it as a necessary meeting.
  5. Keep a journal.
  6. Track your progress on a task.

Action: Pick 1 “Do” item and test it out for a week. If you find success, great!!! If not, pick a different “Do” suggestion and test it out until you find yourself coming more aware.

Focus on your “why” to stop procrastinating

Tip: Not knowing your “why” is the second biggest barrier that I see. Clearly defining and visioning your “why” can bring you back to center when you start procrastinating as well as motivate you. It can also help you know when something is not important and more along the lines of busy work.  An example: for me, the blog posts are a reflection of how I can help others, give value to people that might not want coaching, it helps me learn and grow, it allows me to be a role model for my daughter, and damn it, it feels good when I’m done.

Do:

  1. Write/type out why this is important to you. (Seriously, this is not a verbal or only in your head thing)
  2. How will your life improve if complete?
  3. What areas of your life will improve (personal, professional, relationships, health, wealth, etc)?
  4. Will it impact other’s lives in a positive way too? Who? How?

Action: Complete all 1-4 steps. If you have lots of tasks, then this might help you decide the levels of priority.

Eat the Elephant one bite at a time

Tip: To make this easier, chuck down the task. Meaning, complete parts of the whole over chunks of time. For example: writing the blog post is multi-step for me. I have to come up with an idea, complete research, outline the blog, write it, find or create pictures, do a video (if applicable), proofread it, complete SEO, set up mailing out the blog (as the newsletter subscribers get it first), and manually post to social media.

Do:

  • Add 1-2 hour chunks of time in your calendar and focus only on the task at hand during that time.
  • Focus on progress, not perfection. Perfection mindset will kill effort and progress!
  • Get a clear understanding of the steps that are needed and work on the steps in order (as applicable). This makes it more manageable and you can see the big picture as well as the details.
  • Do you need to break the steps down even smaller? Be realistic in this, if you see that 1 step can take 8 hours, there is a way to break the step down even more!!
  • Take action. Do 1 thing. ONE THING towards completing the task. This helps with motivation, feeling success, and momentum.

Action: Pick 1 “Do” item and test it out for a week. If you find success, great!!! If not, pick a different “Do” suggestion and test it out until you find yourself eating the elephant one bite at a time.

Get an accountability partner

Tip: For real. Holding ourselves accountable is important, but sometimes we lose focus or drive, and self-discipline can be HARD!

Do:

  • Post publically on social media.
  • Ask a coworker/friend/family member to be an accountability partner. Be mindful of who you ask to be your partner and make sure they are willing, there will be no negative consequences with this person being an accountability partner and they can support you the way that best helps YOU.
  • Get a business/life coach.
  • Create or join an accountability group (great for when multiple people are working on the same task).

Action: Figure out what option above would work best for you. Pick that one and stick with it! Adjust if it’s not working. A little story here, I created an accountability group and half the members were not showing up, and the ones that were weren’t doing the work. I had to disband the group (which was so difficult), and I created a new one.

Eliminate distractions

Tip: Eliminating distractions helps with focus and stopping procrastination. I see it as essential for movement and something you need to have in place if you want success. That might be just me.

Do:

  • Turn off visual and sound notifications/calls on phone and pop-ups on the computer.
  • Let coworkers/family/friends know you can’t be interrupted for the next X minutes/hours.
  • Use motivating music or silence (whatever works best for you) to keep you in the zone.
  • FInd a place that is best suited for your productive needs. This SHOULD not be in your bedroom! This can be in your office, living room, library, outside … where are you productive?
  • Make sure you start the task with plenty of time to work on it. Don’t start if you know you have to leave in 5 minutes for a meeting.

Action: Review all “Do”s. Set yourself up for kicking procrastination to the curb. Implement the ones that connect with you. You got this!

So, those are my tips to stop productive procrastination. I’ve used these strategies, as well as shared with clients, and anyone that has asked, really!

I’m curious if you are going to trying something from the post, and if so, leave a comment below with the tip you will try. Also, if you know anyone that can benefit from this post, please share!