Are you procrastinating because you’re tired or tired because you’re procrastinating?
It happens to everyone -- not only to entrepreneurs. At least once in a while. Sometimes it creeps up on you slowly, other times it hits you over the head.
Procrastination. We have something to do, big or small, and we keep putting it off. We distract ourselves, just to get away from the task that's screaming at us. We start cleaning the house or desk. Suddenly everything else seems easier and more urgent. We feel guilty but we’re not able to even start the unwanted task.
Last time I experienced it was just a couple of weeks ago when I got back from a vacation in the US and was jet lagged and still more in holiday mood. A big pile of things to do for my business seemed scary and unsurmountable. Instead, I focused on doing laundry, unpacking and watching Netflix.
It took me a few days to move beyond that and get back to my regular level of productivity. What helped was looking at my notes on procrastination that I’ve compiled over the years and that I use with my coaching clients.
So here are my 16 keys on how to move beyond procrastination and just get things done:
1. Know your “why”: understanding your life purpose makes you more energized and motivated. When I think about expat moms I’m helping via my business, it gives me a sense of mission and gives me wings;
2. Start with something very small: In my case, my list included making phone calls about appointments and medical bills. So my first step was just pulling the phone numbers out;
3. Schedule it and leave a bit more time than you think it will take. Next time you’ll remember that it took shorter than expected and may do it more readily;
4. Remind yourself why it’s important and what the result will be. Picture the negatives if you keep procrastinating and the positives of accomplishing the task. Do it as vividly as possible;
5. Make it more pleasurable by lighting a candle and listening to music. If the task involves deep concentration, I play some quite classical music. And when I need to do something like cleaning up, the music is loud and energizing;
6. Have a treat before and a reward afterwards. It doesn't have to be big: a phone call to a friend, a short funny video or a Yay dance;
7. Prepare space for it: physically and mentally. Make room on your desk; close unnecessary files; stop thinking about other things you want to do;
8. Break into small chunks if the tasks requires several hours or days to finish;
9. Block out distractions to focus and do it quickly. Close your email; turn off social media; move your phone to a different room;
10. Make sure your needs are taken care of: Deep down, we’re all toddlers: we’re not productive and efficient when we’re sleepy, thirsty, hungry, too hot or too cold, or need to go to the bathroom.
11. Increase your accountability: Tell someone about what you’re intending to do and by when. I’ve heard about people connecting on Skype and maintaining the connection while each is working on their own stuff they procrastinated about.
12. Don’t force yourself unless it’s urgent: Sometimes it’s possible to be flexible and wait until the moment we feel inspired to do something. This won’t work with things under a deadline, though.
13. Group tasks together: In my case, I scheduled 45 minutes just for calls and did them all in one go, instead of interspersing the calls throughout the day.
14. Get help from someone: If your task is really overwhelming and you procrastinated for a long time, how about asking someone to help you?
15. Energize yourself: Before you start, do some exercise, like jumping jacks or dancing. This will also bring more oxygen to your brain and will help you think faster.
16. Last, but not least, be forgiving and kind to yourself: Having more compassion for yourself makes you feel more motivated.
American psychologist and physician William James wrote that “Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.”
The guilt stemming from procrastination makes us exhausted, irritable and unable to run a successful business and lead a satisfying life.
Next time procrastination creeps on you, choose at least 5 of my tips to handle it.
Which ones would you select?
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