Procrastination is a huge energy sucker, yet it is something even the highly motivated succumb to at times. Personally, I find I tend to do it when I am beginning a new project. I tell myself that a portion of the procrastination time is actually time I need to allow my creative ideas to percolate.
Perhaps there is some truth to this but I’ll play devil’s advocate now and ask, how much easier and more productive would my life be if I didn’t hold this belief? What if I could just plop myself down at the start of a project, a book chapter, or a workshop outline and get to the work?
There are benefits I get out of procrastinating. It depends on the goal as to what purpose the procrastination is fulfilling. It can be fear of failure. If I don’t start something, then there is no chance of failing at it so it is safer not to begin. Or perhaps I’ve used my imagination to build up a task into a much larger project than it actually is by over-thinking. If that’s the case, the idea of starting is overwhelming because I feel it will take so much time and energy.
I know there are instances when I have spent more time thinking about a task, feeling stuck, worrying about it, etc. than it actually ended up requiring to finish it. And when it was done, I felt a bit foolish for wasting so much time. So…how do you move past the procrastination phase and jump into action? Here are my 5 Top Tips…
1. Get it out of your head and onto the page! The mind is a terrible thing to clutter. Whether you use post its, the computer or you PDA, write out a list of the tasks and projects you have in play at the moment. When I have a lot going on and need to balance the projects in different areas of my life, I take out colored recipe cards and assign a color to each key area – finance, career, health & well being, relationships, fun, etc. then write whatever tasks need completing in each area on the corresponding color card. I can then put the tasks in order of priority and notice where the balance is missing…too many career and finance cards at the top of the pile with all the fun or health & well being at the bottom and I know I need to re-adjust my priorities.
2. Create your Top Ten Priorities of the Week List. This simple system is courtesy of my own coach, Luke Iorio, from iPEC. Luke helped me get past the overwhelm of everything that needs to get done when you have your own coaching business with this tip. Before the end of each Friday, I create a list of the ten most important things I must accomplish the next week to move my business forward, then I put an asterisk beside the top three. I am not allowed to work on the other items until the top three are complete. This keeps me focused and on purposed and I am ready to go first thing Monday morning.
3. Impose time limits on your tasks. Go through the list you made of your top ten priorities and then put reasonable time estimates on how long you believe you need to complete the task…then stick to those like they are deadlines. It is true that a task expands to fill the time allotted so be strict with yourself.
4. Create an accountability system. Most people work better with a deadline in place. Once you’ve imposed your time limits for your tasks, you need to create a way to be held accountable. Enroll someone to help you with accountability and support you. Working with a coach is one of the most effective methods for this. I chose a coach who inspires me, believes in me and sees me for my highest potential. Hitting my weekly goals is a way of demonstrating to me and to him that I can absolutely work at the levels we’ve set for me together. If you’re not ready yet to hire a coach, then partner up someone who also wants to move past procrastinating on his or her projects and do a weekly check in.
5. Identify the underlying purpose to each task. Connecting to the core value the task is related to or the feeling that the task generates will help you move into warp speed, past any procrastination blocks. If your goal is to lose weight and your task is to go to the gym for an hour three times a week, then identify what completing the task will give you…more energy, better health, stress reduction. If these things mean something to you then you’ve identified a core value.
Now look at the feelings shift completing this task can generate…more positive outlook, better body image, more empowered. When I connect the daily tasks required to expand my coaching business to my mission statement, I tap into this energy and become passionate about completing the items on my to do list. I love getting up each day knowing the work I am doing all stems from of being completely committed to people uncovering their own brilliance so they may lead extraordinary lives. This also helps me stay on target. Before I add an item to my task list, I make certain that it is somehow moving my mission statement forward.
Get off to a great start this week and put these steps to work for you. It can take up to 30 days to integrate a new habit so if you fall off the wagon and stray from these five steps, don’t waste time beating yourself up. Go back to the list to get re-focused. Ready, set…GO!