4 Ways to Overcome Procrastination
by Linda-Ann Stewart
It's the night before a project is due, and you haven't even started on it. Now, you're going to have to stay up most of the night to get it done. You make the excuse that you always do your best work under pressure. But really, is that true? Wouldn't you have done a better job if you'd put the project together earlier, when you were well rested and then fleshed it out? And now, you'll have a sleepless night and be tired when you turn in the project.
Procrastination is a major cause of stress and anxiety, and lowers the standard of your work. You may miss deadlines and, as a result, undermine others' respect of you. In addition, this habit reduces your productivity, effectiveness and can cost you money. The chore you're trying to ignore is always in the back of your mind, taking up emotional energy. If you're like most people, you probably feel guilty and beat yourself up when you avoid a task.
Reasons Why You Procrastinate
Most of us procrastinate to some degree or other, but there are some to whom this is a destructive and chronic habit. To address the issue, you must become aware that it exists, and why it's a problem for you. The following are some reasons you may be procrastinating.
Resistance. It's not a task you want to do, so you put it off until the last minute. Because the chore is boring or time consuming, you resent that you must complete it.
Perfectionism. You wait to gather as much information as you can, and hope to find the inspiration to put it all together. But because you never get everything you hope for, you delay starting the task until the deadline looms.
Fear. You're not sure how to proceed or to get it done. You don't believe you have the knowledge or skills to do it effectively.
Overwhelm. It's a huge task, and you don't know how to get started, or the scope of the issue is overwhelming you.
Disorganized. You don't have all your notes or details together. Or maybe, you're often interrupted so you don't have time to pull everything together.
Uncertain. You don't know what to do, so you put off making any decisions or taking any action until you have no other choice.
Ways to Overcome Procrastination
Procrastination is a choice. You decide to put something off, something that's unpleasant, so you focus on something less important, and easier. Once you recognize your issue, you can find solutions.
Break the chore into smaller pieces. Outline what you must do to get the project done. Make sure each item on the list is bite-sized and easy to manage. Being able to handle small pieces will lower your stress and anxiety.
Schedule the chores. Put each small task on your calendar and make sure to keep your appointment with yourself. Each time you can mark one task done, you'll get a surge of good feelings because the reward center of your brain is triggered. This gives you motivation to keep your next appointment.
Prioritize your lists. If you have a to-do list (as most of us do), prioritize the items and schedule them in accordance with their importance. Again, as you accomplish them, your brain receives a reward and you have a stronger incentive to repeat your action.
Dedicate 5-minutes. If you really feel overwhelmed or resistant, set aside just five minutes to work on your chore. It's easier to dip your toe into the pool than to dive in head first. This will allow you to chip away at the tasks, and feel productive. If five minutes becomes easy, extend it to ten or fifteen.
Procrastination is a habit that developed in your life over time. The habit won't be overcome in a day or a week. It took time to create it, and it will take time to break it. Breaking it takes time, dedication, consistency and focus. When you realize that you have the choice to procrastinate or take action, then you're empowered to choose what's in your best interest.
Copyright © 2009-2023 Linda Ann Stewart
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As a focus coach, hypnotherapist, and speaker, Linda-Ann Stewart motivates women to focus and transform their business through deliberate actions that break through distraction and overwhelm to greater success, freedom, wellbeing and prosperity. Watch her FREE training video on Set Your Course to Success: 4 steps to strategically achieve your goals with confidence and ease. Register for the video and accompanying action planning guide at www.SetYourCourseGuide.com. You can contact her at LAS@Linda-AnnStewart.com or 928-600-0452.