How to beat procrastination.
“A day can slip by when you’re deliberately avoiding what you’re supposed to do.” – Bill Waterson.
Procrastination is something that many of us have experienced at one point or another. How many times have you set out a task for yourself to accomplish in a given day, only for the day to have passed and you’ve done everything but that task? Procrastination can kill our dreams, and prevent us from achieving our goals. It can prevent us from doing the meaningful, life changing work that we were destined to do.
Understanding the reason behind your procrastination is crucial. There are a few strategies I’ve put in place to kick procrastination to the curb (well… for the most part).
1. UNDERSTAND WHY YOU ARE PROCRASTINATING
There are many reasons for why we procrastinate. Perhaps you jumped online to conduct some research for a project, and you found yourself deep into the internet rabbit hole. Or maybe it’s because you have a short attention span, and that’s why you can’t stay focused on the task at hand. Whatever your reasoning or rationale may be, all procrastination comes down to one thing – avoiding negative emotions.
If procrastination is a result of avoiding negative emotions, then it’s important to understand what negative emotions you are trying to avoid. We all have limiting self-beliefs, and it’s up to us to identify what they are:
- Feeling like you’re not good enough.
- Fear of failure.
- Fear of being judged.
- Worrying what others may think of you.
- Feeling bored.
- Feeling uninspired.
- Worrying about getting unwanted attention, either positive or negative.
- Feeling uncertain
- Feeling like you’re not smart enough.
Whatever these thoughts are that you have in your mind, it is important to understand what they are. It may be one, strong belief you have about yourself, or it could be a mix of a few.
2. ELIMINATE NEGATIVE FEELINGS
Once you have identified what these negative emotions are, it is important to know how to overcome them. One strategy I have found particularly helpful is Tony Robbin’s Dickens Process. In this process, you are forced to examine your limiting self beliefs – say your top three handicapping beliefs. You then take a look at each belief in depth and answer the following questions:
- “What has each belief cost you in the past, and what has it cost people you’ve loved in the past? What have you lost because of this belief? See it, hear it, feel it.”
- “What is each belief costing you and people you care about in the present? See it, here it, feel it.”
- “What will each belief cost you and people you care about 1, 3, 5, and 10 years from now? See it, hear it, feel it.”
Doing this exercise has enabled me to understand what negative feelings were preventing me from living as the highest, truest version of myself. They have also prevented me from sabotaging my goals and allowed me to do the passionate, life-changing work I was destined to do.
There are a few strategies and practices I have put in place to overcome procrastination. Some of these include:
UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING BUSY VS PRODUCTIVE
One of the biggest reasons we make excuses is because something is simply not important enough to us. As Debbie Millman said, “busy is a decision.” I’ve spoken about this before however, we are now living in a society that uses busy as a badge. It has become a cultural cache to use the excuse “I am too busy” for anything we don’t feel like doing.
When we use busy as an excuse for not doing something, what we are really saying is that it’s not a priority. It’s important to be honest with yourself, determine what’s important to you, and simply make the time to do it. Understanding the difference between being busy vs productive is imperative.
WHAT WOULD THIS LOOK LIKE IF IT WERE EASY?
“What would this look like if it were easy?” is the question Tim Ferriss has asked himself during times of stress and information overwhelm. This also led him to the following question:
“But what happens if we frame things in terms of elegance instead of strain?”
His answer to this is, “Sometimes, we find incredible results with ease instead of stress. Sometimes, we solve the problem by completely reframing it.”
So by simply asking yourself the question what would this look like if it were easy, it can lead you to overcome some of your greatest obstacles and challenges. It can allow you to have a clear runway for you to take off and execute on some of your biggest, most challenging tasks and goals.
UNDERSTAND YOUR PRIORITIES & WRITE A TO-DO LIST
There is nothing quite like putting pen to paper. I spend some time on a Sunday and again at the beginning of each day, asking myself what I want to accomplish in the day or week. Once I have understood what my top 2-3 priorities are, I then write a to-do list and systematically work my way through it. Crossing off items on my to-do list truly provides me with a sense of accomplishment and helps me to stay focused on the task at hand.
Is procrastination something that you struggle with? What are some strategies you’ve used and have found to be helpful? I would love to hear your experiences and thoughts, please leave your comments below!