How to Kick the Habit of Procrastination

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Procrastination is a behaviour, that solves a problem, by protecting you from an emotion, or conflict you want to avoid. For example, you might be afraid of people’s criticism if you fail, or don’t complete a project. Maybe you’re afraid of standing out and shining if successful, so you protect yourself from people’s jealousy?

Ask yourself, “What am I getting out of it?”

This can be a difficult and confronting question if you are used to hiding from the truth or feeling.

The most common reasons why you procrastinate are:

  • A task is boring or unpleasant
  • Low self-confidence – you have something to do you’ve never done before and you don’t know where (or how) to start
  • Anxiety – something feels scary e.g. a difficult phone call or conversation
  • Perfectionism – you don’t want to make a mistake, so you just don’t start or you put it off for fear of failure.

Like all behaviours you do repeatedly, it can become a habit.

Strategies to kick the habit:

  • Make a commitment to change your habit and try setting yourself a 30-day challenge
  • Become aware of each time you start to procrastinate (a pattern of avoidance), and replace this with a new positive habit of “getting started”
  • When you catch yourself procrastinating, say:

“I’ll just spend 30 minutes on it now and see what I can get done”

“I’ll  take one small action step”

“I’ll write a plan and break it down and do one thing now”

“Do something NOW”

  • Have an accountability partner and reach out to them for help and support
  • Reward yourself! Set yourself a treat or reward when you complete something e.g. take a break, watch a show, check social media, buy or do something you want.
  • Don’t wait till, you feel like doing it. Some things you will never feel like doing. Just DO IT! Take the emotion out of it and stop feeling like a victim!
  • Think of how good you will feel when you get your task done
  • Visualise how happy you will feel, as if it has happened already
  • See it done NOW
  • Put it in your Top 3 tasks for your To Do list
  • Get some of your unpleasant things done first instead of having them on your To Do list for 3 months!
  • Break it down into chunks to make it less daunting to start

Creating momentum and overcoming resistance to inertia is the hardest step.

Once you get started each step will get easier and lighter. Over-thinking causes you to wrestle with your feelings and stops you from taking action. It makes you hesitate.

You think you need to FEEL confidence before taking action, but the opposite is true.

Confidence comes FROM taking action, not BEFORE. It is a skill you build through action.

Remind yourself of past successes and situations where you have achieved things that you never believed you could.

Be kind to yourself.

The self-judgement of “should have” and “could have” keeps you stuck and lowers your energy. It creates a negative downward spiral. Remind yourself that you are learning a new habit and each step gets you closer to what you want.

It is never too late to change if you truly want to.

If you would like more information and a worksheet click here.

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