Getting things done and out the way, so you check your to-do’s off your list is the best feeling ever.
I’m actually guilty of writing down tasks that I’ve already completed, just so I can check them off again.
It’s a lovely activity.
We all have a lot on our plates, all the time, and things we want to accomplish in life. And yet, we can’t seem to get the vital things done and out of our way. For many, this is a daily battle.
There’s always something that comes up, distracts us from the task at hand and we somehow find ourselves, yet again, postponing our to-do list.
Procrastination is like an unwanted friend who constantly rings your doorbell and just wants to hang out for no reason at all, often at times when you know, you’ve got an endless to-do list screaming your name and you need to get your focus-game on.
Procrastination will always show up at the wrong time.
Let’s dive in and see how we can, once and for all, learn to say no to our dear old buddy, procrastination.
What Is Procrastination?
The Googles have defined procrastination as such:
The act or habit of procrastinating, or putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention.
Meh, you see.
Not at all as exciting and we’re better off without it. Think of the things we’d see and do if procrastination no longer came to visit.
Elizabeth Gilbert (the author of my favorite book of all time, Big Magic) and many others I assume, states that procrastination basically equals fear, and I second this definition.
When you procrastinate, you are putting something off because it scares you.
Fear is at the root of this task and it’s tugging away.
For example, the fear of…
- The unknown
- Being uncomfortable
- And the fear that you will not succeed once you start
But guess what? If you never start, you for sure never will succeed.
When you procrastinate and put things off, you’re taking a break of fear.
Procrastination is a dangerous tool that in no way serves you and your mission in life.
Things need to get done and procrastination wastes precious time that you will never get back.
Let’s beat it.
Procrastination: The Habit
Understanding that procrastination is a habit is key to breaking it.
This means it’s something you’ve amounted to frequently over a long period of time, perhaps your whole life.
Procrastination is easy to do because it literally wants nothing from you.
Remember, it’s the “friend” who’s there for you when you need it the least. It’s time to say your goodbyes.
Watch Your Mind
The act of procrastination is always supported by our own excuses that we tell ourselves when we want to get out of doing something. We are only fooling ourselves and we won’t get anything done by indulging in excuses.
“I’ll just watch one more episode of Modern Family before I do the thing that I need to do.”
After all, it’s…
- The weekend
- I’ve had a really bad day
- It’s flag day!
- I’ve been really good today, so I’m going to reward myself with my favorite TV show
Pay attention to your mind.
The thoughts that swoop in and take over when you feel resistance towards doing the work you know you need to get done are powerful, and they will control you if you don’t step up and tell them where to go.
- Why am I putting this off?
- What thoughts am I having right now?
- My reason for delaying is…
- What thoughts can I have instead, to support me?
Asking your mind questions is a powerful tool to get some real answers.
Put your mind to work and you will be amazed by the answers it will come up with.
Write it all down, reflect on the reason for your delay and how you can change this to better support you.
The thoughts you have in your mind are directly related to your actions and the results in your life. Remember this and watch that mindset of yours, girl 🙂
Get Real & Set Goals
Before we do anything in life we need to get real about our purpose in life and shout our WHY as loud as we can from the rooftops.
When limiting thoughts come knocking, we have to have something that will trump all other thoughts and push them away so we can get our best work done.
When you have a clear cut goal in life, nothing else should get in your way of achieving it, not a Netflix show, not a chocolate bar, a brunch date, shopping with your mother – nothing.
If you find yourself not feeling like your productivity-ninja self, shove your why in the face of your limiting thoughts.
If you don’t have a why, procrastination will be your new BFF – and we don’t want that.
The way to do this is to really get clear about what is important to you, what your dream life looks like, and what actions you need to take in order to achieve your goals.
Break your goal down into smaller actionable tasks, put them on your calendar and actually do them.
Should procrastination swing by, you’ll know what to do. Let’s be frank, it will probably make its way in the back door, but having your WHY handy makes everything so much easier.
Do The Research
As I mentioned above, sometimes, we devote ourselves entirely to procrastination because of our fear of the unknown.
We are scared we won’t know how to do something and we certainly don’t know how to start.
In cases like these, go online and google your way out of it.
If you don’t have the answer, google (or encyclopedias) will.
Start by doing research on the task and topic at hand and you won’t feel as overwhelmed.
Information is power, dreamer.
Plan, Plan, Plan
When you’ve consumed the necessary information and done the research, it’s time for my favorite step: planning.
Planning keeps you ahead of the game.
Plan your week ahead and plot down your to-do’s, make them time-sensitive, and plan down to the hour.
Divide your tasks into smaller tasks and fill your calendar for the week ahead.
Make the commitment to yourself and follow through with what you have planned.
It’s ALL happening, you’ve written it down in your calendar and it MUST be done.
It’s easy to flake out when you make plans with yourself, but honor yourself with the same commitment you would with a friend and cherish the time you’ve set aside for a specific task. And do it!
Plus, the more you break down your to-do’s the more boxes you get to check off. 🙂
Note: It’s important that you don’t go overboard with your planning, so much that you don’t have time for actually completing the tasks. I’ve fallen into this trap before and it was not pleasant. Healthy planning is what we want. Because let’s be honest, planning can also be known as a masked procrastinator.
My Favorite Planning Tool
While we’re still talking about planning, I wanted to share with you my absolute favorite tool for planning my weeks and days out in advance.
It’s all about tackling procrastination and the hardest task first and prioritizing to-dos in order of importance.
It has made such a big difference in my life, and I don’t procrastinate as much as I used to.
If you want to learn more about this planner, go here. I can’t recommend it enough.
Plus, it’s really pretty. This is an offline planner, I should say.
You can read my very honest review of the Productivity Planner here.
In order to practice the beauty that is getting things done, and checking your to-do’s off your list, you need to turn off all distractions insight.
Yes, I’m talking no phone, no TV on in the background and turn off the WiFi if you must – whatever you need to do to keep you from getting distracted from external factors.
It’s crucial that you free your mind and space when you wish to get things done and be more productive.
I’m a big believer in tackling one task at a time and not letting distractions get the best of you.
Especially as a blogger, there are literally millions of tasks I could go after simultaneously and have 20 tabs open at the same time, and tackle my to-do list all at once.
But I don’t.
I break my to-do’s down as much as I can to avoid feeling overwhelmed and I devote 25 minutes for each task.
I then take a break for 5-7 minutes and resume for 25 minutes again. This is called working in Pomodoro style.
It keeps you focused on one task at a time.
If you are easily tempted by websites such as Youtube and Facebook, I would suggest you get the Focus extension for your Google Chrome browser (if that is what you are using but I’m sure they exist for all browsers).
You can actually block certain websites for a period of time (f.ex 25 minutes), so even if you were to click your way to Facebook, this app will prevent you to do so and tell you to get back to work.
I use it and I find it so helpful. It comes with a Pomodoro feature as well.
Measure Results, Not Time Spent
Be sure to measure the results you produce and not the time and effort you spend on each task.
The value and results you produce that come out of the task have nothing to do with how long it took you to complete it, but what you actually produced in that time.
You can get an assignment done in 1 hour or 6 months – it all depends on WHAT you produce.
Honestly, no one cares about how long it took you to finish your first book, what matters is the value that readers get when reading it, not how long it took you to write your masterpiece.
The same goes for your MacBook – no one cares how long it took to design and create your computer, all you care about is the value it provides for you.
Don’t confuse time and effort with value and results.
Take Massive Action
Get out of your comfort zone, every day and take action, no matter what. This is the true key to acing productivity and getting things done. You have to take massive action. Without it, you won’t move forward. It’s so so important to JUST START.
Getting started with one to-do is half the battle.
Longing to write a book, are we? Great – focus on getting the very first sentence down, then move onto one paragraph, a page and you’ll be on your way.
Just start – even if you have 1o minutes to spare. 10 minutes is better than no minutes at all.
Once you start taking action, you’ll learn that failing is part of the journey and is essentially what helps you to evolve, grow and learn.
Take action, fail a few times, learn, grow and repeat.
Before You Go
If you feel like this blog post hasn’t been enough for you to finally kick your procrastination habit to the curb, you can get your hands on my mini ebook on how to live a more productive and creative life.
Join the dreamer community and get your copy sent to your inbox right away so you can get started.
Let me know your best hacks to beat procrastination in the comments below.