Procrastinating is something we all do, and ironically it usually rears its ugly head when we have a million things on our to-do list. It can happen with anything in our lives from significant tasks such as finding a new career to minor tasks like cleaning out your closet. In fact, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I was even procrastinating on writing an article about procrastination! How funny is that! So, see what I mean, it happens to all of us.
When hours or even days go by, and you still can’t seem to motivate yourself, it brings up all kinds of negative emotions like stress, anxiety, self-doubt, dread, and you may even start to criticize yourself for not being able to find the motivation to do the thing you need to do. It’s an endless cycle and a downward spiral. Don’t let procrastination have power over you.
Wanna know how to stop procrastinating so you can make this your best year yet?
1. Reevaluate the task at hand
Take a moment and think about why you’re procrastinating. Is it because you’re trying to do something that you’re not meant to be doing? For example, if you’re starting a business and continually putting necessary tasks off until later, ask yourself if this is the business your heart and soul want you to start. If you’re procrastinating on working out, is it because you don’t like the workouts that you’re doing? Maybe it’s time to shift your gym cardio to power yoga outside in nature. Are you continually putting off healthy eating? Could that be because rather than trying another “diet” what you need to do is some beautiful inner work to learn to love yourself more?
Whatever it may be, ask yourself why your procrastinating. See if it’s because you’re not following your heart or your inner guidance system. Putting things off because you do not want to do them, could be a sign that you’re heading down the wrong path and it’s time to change directions. However, if that’s not the case, or the task is something that must get done like writing a college paper or cleaning out your closet, keep reading.
2. Stop creating unrealistic to-do lists
We all have things that need to get done, but if we are continually creating unrealistic to-do lists, we are only setting ourselves up for failure. I used to be the queen of creating unrealistic to-do lists, at the end of the day when I had just checked off three items, I felt annoyed and stressed out and like I didn’t accomplish anything (when in fact I had done a great deal).
Putting too much on our to-do lists has a reverse effect and rather than motivating us, it makes us so overwhelmed that we put it off, only to find ourselves in the same situation the next day.
Here’s a tip to help. Try making one big to-do list. Dump everything out of your brain that you know needs to get done. Then break that list down into smaller pieces by adding a couple of tasks to your calendar each day. That way you’re not looking at one huge list every morning, you only see what you can do each day.
3. Give yourself a deadline
Without deadlines, it’s easy to just carry things on forever. Set yourself a timeframe and a deadline for when you want to have your task done by and stick to it. If you need some extra accountability, share your goal and deadline with your spouse or a best friend and have them check in with you until the deadline is reached. It’s amazing what a little accountability will do.
4. Celebrate what you’ve done
We too quickly move on from one thing to the next, which leads to burnout and even more procrastination. Once you’ve accomplished what you wanted to achieve, make sure to acknowledge that and celebrate it! If you’ve finally finished that paper, can you meet up with friends for dinner? If you’ve finally cleaned out your closet, can you book yourself a massage? Scored another client from finally doing all that marketing you’ve been putting off? Book yourself a little weekend away.
When we acknowledge and praise ourselves for accomplishing tasks and goals, we feel more satisfied and a greater sense of peace and joy, which then comes with the added benefit of increased motivation.
5. Aim for finished over perfect
I’m a classic perfectionist, and in the past, I’ve put off starting projects because I know how much work needs to go into something before it’s perfect. Progress over perfection is my new motto. We don’t have to be perfect; our lives don’t have to be perfect, our work doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s not going to kill you to have a little less perfection in your life. You can still choose quality, just don’t weigh yourself down or overcomplicate things before you’ve even begun, with the idea that everything you do needs to be perfect. Aim to get your task done, and if you want to go back and refine it later, go for it.
6. Remember your why
There’s a reason why you want to get it done. Take a few minutes, maybe with a nice cup of tea or outside under a tree, and think about your life and why it’s essential that it gets done. Imagine how you’ll feel once this task is finally done, and what it will mean to you.
If it’s a simple task like clearing out your closet, sure you’ll have a clean closet, but there’s a more profound feeling underneath. This action is symbolic of clearing and decluttering our lives, releasing the old, letting go of that which no longer serves us. If it’s writing a paper – think about why you’re writing this paper. Is it because you’re working on a degree that will help you get into the career of your dreams? Is it exercise so you can have more energy when spending time with your children? What’s the ultimate goal you’re working towards? Remember why – always go back to your why. Let yourself feel the feelings and emotions and know you’re ultimately working towards being the best you, one step at a time.
The most important thing is to not get down on yourself for procrastinating. It’s entirely normal, and procrastination is a part of everyday life! But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn to work with it. By recognizing that’s what we’re doing, we can quickly turn it around no matter how big or small the task at hand is. You have the power to change your thoughts – don’t let your thoughts have the ability to change you.