Tuesday, April 9

How to Overcome Procrastination in 5 Steps

"Much of the stress that people feel doesn't come from having too much to do.
It comes from not finishing what they started." - David Allen

What exactly is procrastination anyway? Procrastination is when we hold off doing or finishing a brilliant idea, concept, plan, project, task, etc. There's always an excuse, or something else to finish first. Why do we do it? Well there's a reason for that, and it all comes down to these two things: Fear and laziness.

We are afraid of failure. Grand plans are just too overwhelming to even consider. Doubt starts to creep in, and then we start making excuses for why we can't/shouldn't do it or that it's too late to consider going through with our ideas. We avoid situations that we think are outside of our control. Our brains tells us that this is uncharted territory and we should reconsider. So it's safer to stay numb and comfortable. Never moving forward and only wishing along the way that it would be different.

We all like convenience. Do we not? We want it now, but we don't want to work for it. Something might be too hard or outside one's comfort zone. So of course the brain talks us out of it. Running through a list of "what ifs" and warnings. So instead, we sit in front of the TV and convince ourselves that we'll start work tomorrow. Well tomorrow will never come my friend with that mindset. We have to change our thinking first.

Here's how to be more productive now:

1. Define worthy goals. We all know what we want deep down. We feel it in our hearts. Perhaps it's to lose weight, go on that dream vacation, write a book, complete that project, etc. Write it down so that you can see the goal daily, and even visualize what it would be like to have it. How great it would feel to complete the task or check off something on the bucket list. Focusing on the wonderful outcome instead of worrying about it will provide momentum to keep going when the going gets tough.   

2. Knowing and education. Seek out knowledge, tips, help, and solutions for your task. Find a teacher or a mentor if possible and learn what they know. Again, procrastination is mostly fear of the unknown. So educate yourself about the topic of your choice, and grow in that direction. The Internet is a brilliant tool that makes our lives so much easier. Get connected, and learn!

3. Make an outline and focus on one little step at a time. This is a huge deal, and is extremely useful. An outline is vital for overcoming fear and laziness, because one can focus on a single task at hand. This makes a large goal or project accessible because there's a clear path to the finish line. Dealing with small things one at a time will also give one the sense of progress and accomplishment. Which makes conquering the goal even more reasonable, thus convincing us that it's possible.  

4. Environment. Create an environment for you to get work done. Whether that's a space on the kitchen table, a home office, or going to the library to get some peace and quiet. If you continuously put yourself in the zone and retreat to that place of comfort, then work becomes that much easier. Also take note of what causes your procrastination. Is it a group of friends? Perhaps the TV is distracting? Is email always taking up way too much time? What are the reasons? Acknowledge them, and change them. Stop or cut back on whatever it is that's hindering your output. I'm sure that amazing goal is worth it. Also, surround yourself with loving people that will be accepting and encouraging of your new growth. They will always be there to lift you up, and offer support in hard times. 

5. Dealing with fear and laziness. So things are going great. Task by task the goal is being reached, but then a mistake is made or a workday is skipped and we lose our drive. What now? Beating ourselves up is not the solution. Instead, reflect upon why this happened, learn from it, make adjustments if necessary, and keep going. I for one know how hard it is to deal with perfectionism. It's something I've struggled with most of my life. Nothing's ever good enough, so why even try. It's much easier to put it off, and the idea's always better in my head anyway. Well, that may be true but let's face the facts, nothing's perfect. When we grow to except that there's beauty in imperfection, then we can finally breathe and continue on. Creating and achieving is always much better than not. Besides, the world needs whatever you have to give. Whether that's painting a picture, writing a book, being a better friend, or inspiring a person to become healthy by example, you will always be a positive role model for someone out there.  

So what have you been putting off? Perhaps today is the day to get on the right track.

Cheers, and here's to getting stuff done!