7 ways to overcome your procrastination
Procrastination is defined as 'the action of delaying or postponing something'. When people procrastinate, they are actively choosing to do something else instead of what it is they should be doing.
Procrastination often doesn’t feel good; it can feel demotivating and frustrating. Whilst procrastinating usually does involve choosing to do things that are easier and more enjoyable than what you should be doing, the activities are likely laced with feelings of guilt or eventual panic that you still haven’t done that one looming task.
During periods of procrastination, people can really do the rounds; checking in with old friends, scrolling on Instagram until your heart's content, surfing the web for things you never knew you needed in your life and reading articles about how to stop procrastinating…the vortex can be never-ending. Ultimately, it doesn’t feel too good and it doesn’t get you to where you want to be.
So, how to break out of it?
First things first, identify precisely what task it is you’re putting off and whether this is something you’re working on for yourself or something you’re having to work on for someone else e.g. for paid employment.
Tasks for personal goals
If it’s something you’re working on for a personal goal, the following tips should help:
1. Begin with the end in mind: what is the long-term goal you’re aiming towards; take yourself there and visualise the future exactly how you want it to be, how you will be feeling, what life will look like when you’ve achieved this bigger goal. This is an opportunity to get honest with yourself – if you don’t feel excited about the future in relation to this goal, then you might want to revisit things and redefine where you want to go.
2. If you’ve decided your goal is something you really want and you believe you can achieve it then plot backwards and reflect on how this task you’re currently procrastinating on is going to contribute to your end goal. Once you’ve re-ignited your passion around the goal then you will feel re-enthused to get the job done. Ask yourself, what will be the consequence of not doing this task right now be, and the impact this will have on your goal?
3. If you’re still struggling to get the job done - ask yourself if there is a better way of doing the task at hand; might you be dragging your heels because you think it’s boring – how could you inject some fun into it? Consider specifically what’s holding you back – it feels too risky? Too mundane? You might be a bit afraid to fail? If you identify a limiting belief that might be holding you back, you’ll have to deal with this first because: “Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, you’re right” – Henry Ford.
4. Ask yourself if the reason you may be procrastinating is because you feel overwhelmed by the task at hand. Do you need to break the task down into smaller components – if it feels like an elephant, it will act like an elephant and probably be difficult to move.
5. More practically, set a timer and take regular breaks. Check out the 'Pomodoro Technique' – it’s a great time management system - or find another one that works for you.
6. Get accountable – is there someone you can be held accountable to? If so, ask for help and find someone to check in with who will hold you to the task.
7. Plan a reward for when you’ve completed the task – maybe going out for a coffee or watching an episode of your favourite show – think how much more enjoyable it will be once you’ve got the work done.
Tasks for someone else
So that’s all good advice if it’s something you actually want to work on for yourself, but what if it’s something you’re working on for someone else, like an employer? Then it may be more of a duty than a personal goal. In addition to the above tips:
1. Don’t let the unwanted task spoil the rest of the day or run into the evening – take the power back from the situation you don’t want to be in. The rest of your day will be so much more enjoyable if you just get it completed now.
2. Or honestly, just accept that you’re going to actively procrastinate; procrastinate away, agree with yourself that you’re choosing to procrastinate because you know that the pressure to complete the work will reach you eventually. If you’re someone that works well under pressure you can take back the power, give yourself permission to procrastinate and enjoy it! Give up the guilt and just wait for the pressure to kick in.
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