“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
― Abraham Lincoln
This is one of my favorite quotes which sums up procrastination so aptly.
Yes, we all understand the importance of not evading but yet we do it at times. We procrastinate justifying that we have enough time to do it and we will get to it later. And our world today is filled with digital distractions that make it way too easier to avoid doing critical tasks – social media news feed which pop up updates constantly, phone buzzing with notifications feeds our modern monkey mind that craves more and more!
I am guilty of going into this dangerous zone often too. Putting things on hold by labeling them as too boring, mundane or overly complicated. But what I realized is that procrastinating things will not make your life easier – your tasks are still your tasks. If left undone, it can lead to lot of negative emotions like frustration, anger and guilt of not owning up to what you wanted to accomplish.
Procrastination is a hindrance to productivity and can stifle your ability to get things done. In an attempt to beat procrastination, I have read and tried several strategies some of which has been very helpful.
Sharing some surprisingly simple strategies to overcome procrastination and get things done!
By implementing a few or all of these, you can stay the course and reach the finish line!
Know Your Why/ Stay Connected To Your Higher Purpose
Be clear about your why. You need to be self-aware and think beyond just the task itself. How important are tasks like feeding your baby or taking care of loved one? Those are primary responsibilities and there is no procrastination when you understand your higher purpose.
Similarly you can evaluate any task through the lens of why and if you see value in doing that task– there should not be excuses and no procrastination.
For example – If you do not like presentations at work, however you know that doing so will help you gain visibility with your management team and that is important to you – then it aligns with your why and you should do it.
Take Baby Steps
Sometimes it is overwhelming and scary to take on a difficult task. It is intimidating to begin with.
So how to get started on enormously difficult and challenging task? Start small. Break it down and take baby steps each day.
Want to write a book- start with 1 page.
Want to paint a house – start with one corner of a room.
Want to run a marathon – start with a short run around the block.
Start with doubt, start with fear but start!
Make it interesting
If you consider a task boring then add some fun to get through with the task. For instance, if you are filing an expense report or taking care of monthly finances – grab a glass of wine, switch on some upbeat music and get on with it. Who said boring tasks need to be boring?!
If you are a competitive person, then challenge yourself to complete the task within a set time. Race yourself against the countdown timer to get it done. Do it imperfectly but complete the task.
Other ways to make a task interesting is to reward yourself on completion. A Spa Day or Date night or that dress you wish to buy can wait until you complete that boring but important task!
If the task is mundane and your time is best used doing something else – then see if you can outsource that job. While some of them enjoy tasks like lawn Mowing or house repairs, yet for the rest of us it may seem a waste of time. By hiring some help, you could get the job done without wasting your time.
Motivation and Will-Power are over rated. Do not wait for inspiration to strike if you wish to begin any creative task. What matters more is the process. If a task is important to you and gets you closer to your goals, then stick to a routine and follow the process even if not in the mood. Go through the motions and backed by science, that inertia will keep you going. (Remember the Newton’s law of motion – A body in motion stays in motion unless acted by an external force!)
Think of how easy it is just go for an additional distance on treadmill once you are already on it. It is easy to keep going once you already have started rather than when you have to start from a static state.
Get an Accountability Partner
Once you identify what task needs to be done, then if you need an external push to get it done, you need to find an accountability partner. Someone who can track your progress, who follows up with you and helps you stay accountable. Your accountability partner can be a gym buddy if your goals are fitness related; a coach if your goals are life/work related or can be a good friend or can even be your network like a Facebook group you are part of. A word of caution though making your spouse our accountability partner in most cases will not be as effective as you tend to take them for granted and hence will not get serious about your goals!
Apps like StickK and Spar are also widely popular as social habit building aids where you pay a preset amount to group pot and take up the challenge – whether it is doing pushups or writing 500 words per day or learning an instrument, there is no procrastination as your money is at stake and your effort is visible to others!
Keep your word
Develop a high sense of personal integrity. Honor your commitments. You cannot procrastinate if you have committed to someone and you will no longer ignore that task as it will reflect on your personality. Whether it is showing up on time, completing the project, keeping a promise to a boss or client, pitching in with your share of housework and helping out your partner – honor your word and be reliable.
Just Do it
Lastly even if none of these strategies have worked for you, this Nike’s slogan is sure to kick procrastination out of the door!
Just Do It!
If you find yourself falling into the trap of procrastination, then this mantra will surely spring you to take immediate action on your goals and tasks. Do not wait. Do not over think. Do not worry too much about success or failure. Just get started. Just do it!
With the New Year just right around the corner, there is no other better time than now to try these strategies and revisit your unfinished work, your half-baked ideas with a new outlook!
Lets ring in 2019 with new energy and momentum, beat procrastination and get it done!
Happy New Year to Thrive Community!