Who wouldn’t like to know how to break procrastination habits?. Procrastinating is a sure fire way to sabotage success.
On the other hand, being super productive is a sure way to increase success. Ironically, the more you try to get done to succeed, and the more you venture out of our comfort zone, the more likely you are to procrastinate. There is no simple way to stop procrastination as changing habits is not an easy job.
Did you know that procrastination has actually quadrupled over the past 30 years? It is becoming more and more of a challenge in everyday life. Everyone knows that procrastinating is almost always a bad thing. You miss deadlines, create bottlenecks, lose business, and you damage your reputation; yet you probably still let it hijack your actions.
Sometimes, it is really evident when you are putting off the same task over and over, and other times, it can be so subconscious that you don’t realise. Whatever the reason is that you might decide to put off what you intend to do, you most likely find yourself going through the same procrastination cycle as everybody else.
Everything you do starts with an intention. Whether you are motivated by it or not, the intention to do it is there to begin with. Then the time comes to take action, and a sense of uneasiness slowly creeps up and resistance starts to build. Your mind desperately searches for reasons why it would be ok to do this later. You find yourself coming up with excuses that probably sound quite fair at the time and perhaps even reasonable. Once you have found your escape route, you set the next deadline, confident things will be different.
The deadline gets closer and closer, you can’t escape it anymore.
With a burst of adrenaline, you race to complete the task because something will seriously be on the line if you don’t. Or sometimes you could simply keep putting it off until you decide to completely abandon the task, or just add it back onto your to-do list.
This doesn’t sound like a very productive way to manage things. What can you do to be more productive instead?
You can either – Break The Cycle Or Prevent It
Let’s say you find yourself in the infamous cycle – you take one step forward and then you are pulled back by an invisible string attached to you. When you feel the resistance, this is when you need to immediately take a more productive role.
The moment you feel yourself hesitating, confront that feeling there and then. Don’t let your mind wander off in search of excuses, direct your thoughts intentionally to deal with it in the moment. Instead of looking for ways to postpone or push forward blindly, ask yourself – What is actually going on that is causing you to resist? What is missing that is making this more difficult for you?
Are you missing motivation, clarity, confidence or structure, for example? Once you have identified the resistance, deal with it accordingly. It is not procrastination in itself that is bad, but the lack of ability to manage it effectively when it happens.
Start to build a habit of dealing with procrastination more effectively in the moment it happens by identifying the exact cause. If you can do this, you will free up heaps of time and you can get much more done in days than many people do in months.
Preventing Procrastination to be more productive…
Sometimes you need to put a little more effort and do the hard things at the beginning to make it easier for yourself later on. Preparation in anything you do is a key ingredient for success! Try to include the following steps when you schedule the task.
1) Essential questions to ask beforehand
Don’t just schedule it into your calendar and forget about it until the time comes to take action on it. Think about any challenges that may come up before hand.
Do you feel motivated to do this? If you just have to do it, but you don’t feel so excited, find the value in what you are doing and you will find the motivation. Link it to achieving something bigger.
Are you lacking any confidence in getting this done? If so, what can you do to make you feel more confident? What resources could you rely on to support you in this task? Etc
It only takes one minute to ensure your feelings are aligned with the action you want to take.
2) Clarity is key
Ensure that there is nothing ambiguous or unrealistic about the task. Lack of clarity is one of the main reasons it is difficult to take a step forward, and that’s understandable, right? Think about what you will need to do and play it briefly over in your mind. If you get stuck thinking it over, you will most likely get stuck when you try to do it in the moment.
Also, feeling overwhelmed by the task will make you want to run away from it. When you set a task, always break it down into the smallest tasks possible, and then schedule them as individual tasks.
The idea is to have small tasks and 100% clarity on what each task that you schedule entails.
3) Create the mental and physical environment
Mental Environment – Create the mental environment that you need to be in when carrying out the task. Do you find it easier to focus when listening to classical music or perhaps by simply having your headphones on? Align your attitude with the action you are about to take; intentionally direct your thoughts and feelings where you need them to be.
Physical environment – Switch off email notifications, put your phone on silent, and remove distractions. Your limbic system is the part of your brain that is constantly looking for pleasure and distractions and it never gets tired. This is actually a very basic reason why you procrastinate, so don’t overlook inhibiting your limbic system as much as possible.
4) Choose results over comfort
Be more ‘self-disciplined’ and in control of your actions. You are in control of your results and you must take responsibility for all the choices you make. Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do now, in order to have more of what you want in the future. Choose results over comfort and challenge your own excuses. Nobody else is going to achieve your goals for you; you are in the driver’s seat of your own results.
You don’t have choice in the amount of hours there are in a day, but you do have a choice in how you decide to spend them. What do you choose for yourself moving forward?