If you’re like me, you’ll have mastered the art of procrastination.
After years of practice, I’d become so good at procrastinating I barely noticed that I was doing it. Procrastination occurs everywhere and we all do it to a greater or lesser extent.
Wikipedia identifies procrastination as ‘the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished’.
Procrastination undermines achievement
The problem is, procrastination undermines achievement. It slides in unnoticed, stealing the focus and energy so needed to complete the things that are most important to us. In addition, procrastination invites feelings of guilt, inadequacy, depression and self-doubt. Which further undermines our ability to achieve.
Why do we allow procrastination to sabotage our attempts to achieve?
There is no shortage of reasons given;
- “There’s not enough time
- “I’m so busy”
- “These jobs have to be done
But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll probably find the real reason is fear. Fear of failure, fear of succeeding, fear of trying something new, fear of making a mistake; the list is endless. In short, fear prevents us from stepping out of our comfort zone to experience something new or different.
So how do we stop procrastinating?
There is no magic quick formula, but with determination, courage and patience it is possible. To help you focus on the important things that really matter, you need first to have a goal that excites and motivates you.
Have a compelling reason
Without a really compelling reason to achieve whatever it is you want, it is too easy to avoid the scarier more important actions. Knowing exactly what you want and why gives you energy and courage to focus on those tasks that are more likely to help you achieve.
Be realistic about what is important
It’s very easy to justify the urgent but less important activities in favour of those bigger scarier options. When you give those activities more importance than they’re due, you end up kidding yourself about their true benefits.
“When I’ve caught up with my admin, I’ll be able to concentrate on this proposal.”
In reality, these other activities are familiar and easier to do and sit nicely within in your comfort zone. They are sometimes urgent and necessary but you need to give them an appropriate priority. Focusing primarily on them won’t move you or your business forward.
Become Aware of your pattern
Most of us know when we are avoiding something and we become pretty good at justifying our actions. The problem is this practice can become a habit and we make our choices unconsciously.
When you make a conscious effort to observe how and when you are procrastinating, you’ll be able to identify the pattern you are playing. Then you can start experimenting and try different behaviours that could result in a more helpful pattern for you.
Make yourself accountable
Create a plan to disrupt your procrastination habit and share it with someone you trust. Tell them about your progress and ask them to hold you accountable. This helps you stay committed and recognise your success when it happens. Working with a coach is a great way to work out how to get your most important stuff done.
What important tasks are you avoiding? Are you allowing procrastination to sabotage your chance of success? Contact me for help focusing on those important, but often scarier activities you may be avoiding.