You find something more interesting to do or stare at a blank sheet of paper … You ask yourself the question again, only to come up with no answer at all, so next time you find yourself avoidng doing anything, sit down and examine what the issues are that make you do this.
In other words, don't delay it and start working on the issues now!
Procrastination is a common issue and can prevent you getting started, getting finished or often you're stuck somewhere in between, and it can be very frustrating.
If you keep stoping to ask yourself the question: "Why can't I just get on and DO it?", it can help to get to the root of the problem, and help you get "unstuck".
So let's break the question into managable sections:
What is it that is holding me back?
As with any issue you might have, we need to look carefully at the feelings that arise when thinking about the issue. Are you afraid that you might fail, or perhaps even afraid that you might succeed?
Am I in the wrong frame of mind to start (or finish) this task?
Are you feeling de-motivated by it or bored at the prospect of having to do it? Is it the 'wrong' time? Do you feel you aren't able to do the job; lacking enough experience or information to do it properly?
Do I feel inadequate in myself?
Do you lack the self-belief and self-confidence to do the job?
Am I clear about the tasks?
Perhaps you can't see the bigger picture and how this particular task fits in with your overall desired outcome. Perhaps you are bogged down by planning: You think, you plan, you make notes, but you don't actually know what to do.
Are my priorities clear?
Are you mixing up important issues with urgent ones and setting your priorities in the wrong place? Are you doing lots of other tasks but failing to do what you really should be doing at this moment?
Here is an exercise for you do, so get some paper and DO IT!
Consider each of the questions above, namely, WHY CAN'T I DO IT and brainstorm the reasons why you are procrastinating. Think about both the practical reasons and how you feel about doing this task.
Once you have written down all your reasons, identify any visible blockers that come up, often hidden in words, such as "can't", "won't', "not enough time", "later", etc. These are resources, information that you need to gather from other people, research that you need to do, and so on. All these are things that you need to action promptly or they'll keep on stalling you. Choose one that you're going to action today - you'll get the satisfaction of knowing that's one step in the right direction.
The other reasons for procrastination are about mindset and your approach to the task or project. So how do we deal with these?
There are lots of reasons why you might be procrastinating, so once you've challenegd the visible blockers, it's all about making sure you have the right mindset and approach. So let's looks at some of the ways achieve this:
TAKE A FIRST STEP FORWARD
Sometimes, we feel we've bitten off more than we can chew. And one of the most effective ways to get over that feeling is to do something (anything really!) just to get things going. Choose something that you know you can achieve, and do it, congratulate yourself and then move on to the next task.
KNOW YOUR GOALS AND MOTIVATION
Often we put things off because we don't have a clear 'vision' of what we want our final outcome to be. When your goal is fuzzy, this impacts your energy levels, your motivation and naturally your output.
You need to be very clear about what it is you want to achieve and how this will benefit you. Once you have established a positive base, you then have more leverage to incite yourself into action. If you know how something is going to be of benefit to you, you're more likely to do it.
PLAN YOUR DEADLINES
We all need deadlines! If you don't have a specific end point in mind, you're far less likely to achieve it. So be very clear on when a particular task needs to be done by, and then work backwards from that date, identifying smaller steps leading ultimately to the main goal.
FOCUS ON WHAT'S IMPORTANT (RATHER THAN URGENT)
Rather than being sidetracked by lots of perceived 'urgent' issues, remember that it is the important tasks which get you closer to your goal. When you organize work so you meet all your deadlines, you become more efficient, and therefore accomplish a lot more. You will also probably be calmer and easier to be around, because you're not bouncing from one crisis to another. And this means that you will be better able to deal with truly urgent situations as they arise.
LISTEN TO YOURSELF
Each of us has a unique body clock and concentration curve. By matching your task to the right time of day, and how you are feeling, you can have a big impact on your effectiveness. Choose to deal with the most demanding tasks when your natural energy is at its highest, and you will get more done in less time. If you think most creatively and concisely first thing in the morning, plan your creative tasks accordingly.
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS
Very importantly too, after achieving each major step towards your goal, take time to acknowledge yourself, congratulate yourself, for having done so. You would do that for a good friend or colleague, so why not do it for yourself? It's motivating; it makes you feel good about yourself.
And when you believe that you can actually do it, and that you want to do it, you'll have banished procrastination, once and for all!
Before anyone says anything..there is a good part to procrastination, as long as its healthy, such as taking care of yourself and not allowing others to take advantage of you. In fact, used wisely, healthy procrastination is good for you, perhaps reeading a favourite book, watching a funny movie or just taking some ME time away from everyone else.
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