Updated: Aug 28, 2022
Today is International Fight Procrastination Day!
Almost all of us experience procrastination at some point in our lives. And most of the time, we push through it. However, if you have been procrastinating on something for a long time and there is even the smallest chance it is stopping you from already living your dream life, then here are some thoughts and tips to help tackle it.
Let’s start with clarifying exactly what is procrastination. According to the dictionary it is:
“To put off intentionally and habitually the doing of something that should be done.”
The word that jumps out here to me and comes up time and time again with clients is SHOULD. So with that in mind, here is the first tip.
Get clear. When I work with people, one of the first things we work on is clarity. It is so important you recognise whether whatever you are procrastinating on is actually something YOU really want rather than something you think or feel you should want. Occasionally, we have wanted something for so long we fail to see if that goal or dream has changed. Or that dream or goal might be something that another person expects or wants for you. So before you read any further...think about whatever it is you feel you are procrastinating on and ask… do YOU actually or still want it?
Be aware. The second thing to remember is that procrastination does not mean you are lazy. So many people tell me they are lazy - and they really aren’t. Procrastination is when you intentionally choose to do something else rather than what you need to do. This might be distracting yourself in the form of scrolling through social media instead of getting stuck into a piece of work. Or it could be on a larger scale and choosing other things over taking steps towards your own dreams and goals. So to being more awareness to this, consider this Write down what it is you are intentionally and habitually putting off. How long have you been putting it off?
Identify the block: Following this, it is important to identify what exactly has been holding you back up until now. Very often, it is fear of some form that causes procrastination. We may believe we will likely fail, so why bother trying...or it seems such a large, challenging path ahead that we just get overwhelmed and stand still. Other times, we might find we always have an excuse. Take a moment to think about this and write: What thoughts, feelings or behaviours are prevalent in stopping you making change or progress? Am I making excuses? Are they real or valid? If so, can I find ways around them?
Forgive yourself: At this point, it is important to acknowledge that people often experience feelings of guilt or even shame at our lack of effort. We beat ourselves up, which in turn actually leads to more procrastination. So on that note...Forgive yourself for procrastinating. Take a moment to acknowledge it’s a new day, you can’t change the days behind you, but are ready now and let go of the unkind thoughts and feelings you are holding on to.
When you have clarity, understanding and compassion for yourself, procrastination can be reduced significantly.
Here now are some practical ways to kick it to the kerb.
Write your WHAT. Whatever it is you want to change, create or do, write it down. It is widely proven that when we write it down, we are twice as likely to achieve it. And if you like, put it in places where you can easily read it or connect to it. For some, it’s a vision board, others it is a private little note saved in our phone. What matters is you get it out of your head and down on paper.
Create your WHY. Whether it is a big or small goal, get really clear on why you are doing it. And keep the why as positive and inspiring as possible. So if you have been trying to lose weight for a really long time, but just can’t seem to get started, write down why you want to lose weight. A good why would be ‘to have energy to play with my children in the playground’ versus ‘because I hate my body’ which only keeps you feeling bad about yourself.
Set intentions on HOW. It is so important you set small, achievable goals to tackle procrastination. So focus on the immediate step only. One step at a time is realistic and much easier and therefore allows us to succeed and feel better about ourselves and our progress. And when we feel better about ourselves, we find it easier to keep going. So write down how you will achieve your first step. (Trust the rest will become clearer once you begin).
Set your WHEN. You need to plan it in. Many people who procrastinate will be familiar with ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ and know that tomorrow never comes. Look at your time, diary or calendar, choose a time to work on that first step and lock it in. Say no to everything that gets in the way. Remind yourself, this is your time and you are choosing you. Most things that crop up can wait. We often feel our own time is less important and therefore push aside our own plans for others. Remember you have a choice and it is ok to say no if something pops up. And by setting aside small blocks of time (focusing on one small, achievable goal at a time remember) it makes it much easier to commit to.
Set your WHERE. Like the previous step, outlining your where also really helps. So if you need to work on a project, is there a space in your home available or do you need to look elsewhere. If it is exercise, where are you going to do it, a gym, a walk in the woods, yoga in your garden?
Identify your WHO. Tackling procrastination can be easier with support. Whether that is a friend, a colleague or a Coach, having someone to keep you accountable and motivated is really beneficial.
BELIEVE in it and yourself. Lastly, this is a big one! Belief is crucial and often a huge obstacle to our progress. By connecting with all of the above, you will bring more self-belief into your life. You CAN DO IT and make sure you are telling yourself that regularly.
So let's all try take a moment today to check in with ourselves to see what we might be procrastinating about. Whether a simple thing we are putting aside or a big dream we can't seem to start working on. It all starts with a simple step and a decision to do something, no matter how small.
And if all the above feels too much for today, simply ask yourself, what one small step can you take today to fight procrastination?
Sometimes we think we need all the steps to be clear before we begin, but try to trust that once you begin, things will become clearer. Keep focused on the outcome, and the obstacles begin to fade.
“To conquer frustration one must remain intensely focused on the outcome, not the obstacles”. T.F. Hodge
Love Claire x
PS. If you are interested in coaching to help with procrastination,belief, change, creating the life of your dreams or more, drop me a message.