Here we are in week 18 of simplify your life and I know many of you have written wonderful posts sharing how you started planning or prioritizing and saw improvement. Others of you have had a revelation from slowing down and finding some focus - you actually get more done going slower. Last week with decision making you saw how much time can be freed up when you don’t spend forever debating small decisions that need to be made – save that for the life changing decisions.
This week we are going to look at procrastination.
Procrastination is a part of most everyone’s life. We may be dealing with different challenges, different things we choose to avoid, but the underlying reasons are similar. Accept that this issue will come up repeatedly and rather than try to eliminate it 100% from your life aim to deal with it as it arises.
You can know your priorities and set your goals, sit down with the intention to be super focused and still end up surfing the internet instead of getting your intended tasks done.
Self-awareness is one of your biggest tools in fighting procrastination.
Stop and figure out what is going on.
- Are you avoiding starting something because you are not sure what to do first or don’t understand what you need to do?
- Are you avoiding finishing something because you are worried it is not perfect and therefore you won’t commit to the end result, choosing to leave it “in progress”?
- Are you avoiding the task because honestly you know deep down it is not important to you (now or ever?) and perhaps you need to dump or delegate it?
- Are you procrastinating because you have not done the required prep-work (planning or getting needed tools) and are stressed by it now?
- Are you looking for distractions because you are burning yourself out and need a break?
Tips to stop procrastination in its tracks
- Set a small list of goals for the day that is realistic, aligned with your priorities and goals, with built in rewards for doing those tasks. Build in your usual procrastinations with intentionality and controls. ”When I finish task #1 I can spend 20 minutes on Facebook (and set a timer) before moving on to task #2 (and so on).”
- Make sure when you plan your day that you know what information or resources you need. There is no point planning to “build a bookcase” on Saturday if you have not decided on exactly what bookcase you intend to build and created your supply list.
- If feeling overwhelmed is your problem break your tasks down into small bite sized pieces and tackle the first step only. When that one is done you can look at step two. Just getting started is often the biggest way to fight back against procrastination. When something is small and manageable it is less intimidating and once you achieve the first step you are empowered to face the next step – whether it is aiming for 10 minutes of exercise (rather than a 5km run) or writing your opening paragraph (instead of setting out to write your 20 page assignment).
- As discussed last week make decisions and move on. If you find yourself avoiding decision making, push through fast if it is not a major decision. If you know your priorities and your values you are equipped with most of what you need to decide. Trust yourself.
- Decide to tackle small tasks immediately. If it takes five minutes or less don’t schedule it, just do it. If you start something, take the few minutes to put it away, tie up loose ends, file it etc.
- Face your fears. Whether it is fear of failure, fear of success, fear of not doing it “right” or “perfect” you need to realize that the fear and anxiety will only get worse with delays. The tasks you are most afraid of are probably the ones you should tackle first and get them out of the way. Don’t let the mental part of the task blow up to the point that the physical act of the task cannot be done. Unless it is an optional task you must know on some level you will have to face it eventually. Sooner is always better than later. Not only does this task get more stressful with delays, but your overall increased stress levels start to affect the rest of your life. Think about loss of sleep, loss of enjoyment in other things you are doing, lower productivity as you are distracted by it for possibly days or weeks and so on.
Challenge this week: Be aware when you start procrastinating. Figure out the why and determine the best way for you to tackle it. This will be different for each person as there are so many variables involved. For chronic issues you may try different things through the week. Like many of the challenges this will not be a one-off, try it and find your perfect solution forever situation. You will benefit from working on this long term so be kind to yourself this week. Aim to stop some of your procrastinating, learn as you go and realise it is a part of our lives and will come up continuously for most people.
Find your simple,
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