Most of us can relate to the feeling of not wanting to work on one or more of the tasks on our list. Even with time management tools like time blocking and segmented lists – it can be a serious struggle to avoid procrastination and
Procrastinating is the act of avoiding work on a specific task or set of tasks. And, working on tasks that are much less urgent or impactful instead. Here are some tips on how to stop procrastinating and stick to your list.
The Best Way To Get Something Done … Is To Begin – Author Unknown
Before we dive in and talk about steps you can take to avoid procrastination – I think it is important to talk about the root of that behavior.
In other words, why do you feel the desire to avoid or put off that specific task or set of tasks?
If you are using good time management habits then, you should have a funnel set up for your tasks to move through, and a time blocking system that sets boundaries for your time.
If your daily tasks have made it through all of these checks, then they must be important.
They must be tasks that will further propel your business and your progress.
They must be integral to your goal work.
So, why do you dread doing them?
Why aren’t you passionate, motivated, and excited about each of the tasks on your list?
As you are planning out tomorrow’s tasks and time blocks, and you come across a task or set of tasks that you don’t want to do, sit with that feeling.
Think about what it is about that specific task that makes you want to avoid it.
See if any of these common reasons for procrastinating feel familiar to you:
By never doing the task, there is no chance that it could be done incorrectly or go wrong in some way. This way, you can “control” the outcome and keep it just perfect (in your head).
When you look at a task, you see it as a big project. If you are a naturally futuristic thinker, then looking at a daily task may launch you into thinking of all of the subsequent tasks and to-dos that will come from that one. This can be very overwhelming.
Some of you lucky ladies are perfectionists. I envy this trait. It can drive you to work beyond your threshold and make your project into something amazing.
Personally, I do not possess that trait. Instead, I have to be very mindful of my projects and how much more I could do. But, if you don’t have your perfectionist tendencies under wraps, they can drive you a little bonkers.
Progress, not perfection doesn’t mean do it halfway. But, it does mean “things don’t have to be perfect to count as progress”
Fear of failure
Being afraid of failure is a haunting feeling. And, it is one that many people allow to keep them from trying and becoming great.
It is also a big reason to procrastinate and put things off. Pair futuristic thinker with fear of failure, and you’ve got someone who is apathetic as a means of protecting themselves.
If any of these sound familiar, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Thankfully, once you connect with the emotion behind your procrastination, you can implement some proven tools and resources that will help you push past your procrastination.
But, don’t try to implement these tips before you know why.
You can implement your time management system and set up your task funnel just beautifully … but, if the tasks that come out the end illicit feelings of procrastination because you are overwhelmed or afraid … you will stymie all of your wonderful progress and, find yourself falling behind again.
When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that in itself is a choice – William James
Now that you have connected with the emotions behind your procrastination, it is time to learn some ways to push past that feeling and stick to your list.
Sometimes, just knowing that you are procrastinating because you are afraid you are going to fail is enough to move past the bottleneck and get things moving again.
You can quiet the negative self-talk, do some meditation, and move forward with confidence that there is beauty in both success and failure. Either one is a positive outcome.
But, other times connecting is not enough, and you need some science-backed, proven rules that highly-successful people throughout the World use.
Well, I just so happen to know a few of those rules:
Eat the frog
You’ve heard me say it before. This is a term used widely by Brian Tracy and first written about by Mark Twain. The idea is if you woke up and the first thing that you did was eat a frog, nothing for the rest of the day would be that bad.
This is a mindset tool that helps you to get that “thing” that you are dreading out of the way so you can move on. When you know that the task that you don’t want to do is looming on your to-do list, it can dramatically affect your motivation and focus for the day.
Stop thinking about how much you don’t want to do that one thing. Instead, get it done. Get it out of the way. And, be excited about all of your other tasks that are nowhere near as bad!
If you have set up your task management funnel and the tasks in your time blocks are action items that connect back to your objectives, then you know that they are important.
But, sometimes those action items are complicated and involve learning something new. This can make you procrastinate because you feel overwhelmed or, you are a perfectionist and learning something new puts you out of your comfort zone.
This is where being fully prepared will help you to move past your procrastinating. So, when you are planning your time blocks the night before, and you have that action item that says, “listen to Amy Porterfield podcast about Facebook Live”, get a sheet of paper and write out all of the steps that you will take to get the most out of that podcast.
You know that it will be all new information, and you will feel a little inept, so make sure to approach it as an active listener and get yourself prepared. Create a Cornell Notes template so you are capturing all of the information in a clean format.
Read through the podcast notes or transcript before you listen to it so you have a general idea of what will be covered. Download and print any attachments, checklists, or cheat sheets that are offered to supplement the podcast information. Be prepared.
Take the first step
The rule of 80/20 tells us that 80% of the value of a task exists in the first 20% completed. In other words, simply starting a task is the majority of its value.
To push past procrastination about a specific task, set a time block for 10-minutes to work on it. Give yourself a small piece of the action item to do in that 10-minutes.
For instance, if your action item is to write a guest post, start with writing the title. Instead of avoiding the post because you’re afraid that it won’t get published.
Then, schedule a subsequent time block immediately following the 10-minute block to write the actual post. Just by starting, and getting the title written, you will likely become inspired to write the whole thing.
Procrastination is something that we all experience. None of these tips are meant to completely rid you of that feeling. It is a completely natural and normal feeling to have. But, don’t let it keep you from making progress.
You can do anything. You can be anything. And, when you are feeling like you just don’t wanna … sit with those feelings, identify why, and use these tips to push past it!