4 Reasons You Procrastinate and 7 Strategies to Beat It

4 Reasons You Procrastinate and 7 Strategies to Beat It

All of us procrastinate. We put things off that we know we need to do. For many, the word procrastination conjures up the idea of being lazy, which implies a value judgment - if you procrastinate, you're doing a bad thing. However, it's alright to put off something for tasks of more importance as long it doesn't lead to:

  • Avoiding making timely decisions.
  • A slow start to important projects.

Procrastination is undesirable when it makes us play small and keeps us from living a richer and more fulfilling life.

Have you worked on something at the last possible minute? What was that like?

Have you had difficulty accomplishing important tasks because of interruptions? What were the results?

Have you felt too tired to start something new, even if the task was important? How did that feel?

Reasons You Procrastinate:

1. Feeling Overwhelmed - Do you imagine mountains of paperwork or picture your full calendar or even twenty tasks on your to-do list and feel there's too much that needs to be done? This feeling could paralyze you from even taking the first step towards achieving it.

2. Task is Unpleasant - You view the task as boring or tiring or think it will make you feel uncomfortable in some way.

3. Fear of Failing - This is a vicious cycle because if you take action towards reaching your goal and yet fail to realize them, you fear you will be seen as a failure. This fear of failing stops you from taking that very action.

4. Lacking Motivation - You find no internal motivation or benefit for doing the task, and there's no penalty for not doing it, leading you to not do it at all. The cost in terms of time and energy seem to outweigh the benefits.

Strategies for Overcoming Procrastination:

1. Linguistics - Your choice of words affects your results. When I first started my studies in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), the first lesson was all about words and how they affect our actions. Here's a video of five (5) words I changed instantly. The words you use will have a strong influence on your perception. Positive words yield positive results.

2. Work in Reverse - Most of us work well with deadlines. Having it on my calendar helps me work backwards in creating smaller deadlines. For example, when I was writing my book, my deadline was July 1, 2015. I worked backwards and realized if I did four chapters a month (one a week), I could have twenty chapters in five months, which is the typical length of a non-fiction book. Therefore, I started writing in February and created small deadlines every week for each chapter. Many small steps are what get things done.

3. Have a Smart Schedule - Our brain works in a funny way. When you know you have less time, you'll act on it. I print out my yearly calendar, month-by-month, and stick it on my wall. Thanks to my mentor, Hugh Culver, for suggesting this. I fill up my calendar by scheduling non-work related activities first like vacations, weddings, family activities, and personal development. Next, I add my web show dates and any speaking engagement dates or hold dates. Lastly, I pencil in any campaigns or courses I'm running. Since the time when you can work on important tasks will be limited this way, you will have a tendency to make the most of the time available. "If I have less time to do this, I'll act."

4. Work in Peak State - You're most productive when fully focused. Distractions, intense emotions and other concerns undermine our focus and productivity. I know I'm most productive in the early morning between 5 and 11 a.m. I can work faster and focus on my content without any distractions. When are you at your peak productivity? Learn more about how I became a morning person.

5. Make Your Own Rewards - Promise yourself a treat once a certain task is completed. It doesn't have to be food (even though I'd love an ice-cream once in a while), but when I work on small or medium projects, I treat myself to a latte. Imagining that latte makes me want to get it done.

6. Reframe its Importance - If you know a task has to be done, but it's not emotionally important to you, find a way to make it important. I hate to admit this, but I don't like cooking! However, I have to reframe its importance because I want my family to eat healthy instead of eating out (and spending oodles of money) or going through a fast food drive-thru. This reframe makes me want to be creative when it comes to cooking so I can enjoy the process too.Learn more about reframing here.

7. Uncover Start and End Points - Once something has a beginning and an end, it's a lot easier to start filling in the middle. Define the start and end points of your task so you know how big or small it is.

Zaheen Nanji is a Resilience Champion and trains people and organizations on how to build their resilience muscle so it becomes a first reflex in times of change and challenge.

You were very easy to deal with. Pleasant manner, tone of voice and easy to speak to.  You kind of have the voice and demeanor that make people "want" to talk with you. Once people know your story, they want to talk to you more, perhaps to grab a bit of your strength and positive attitude in their own lives.  I find you to have a caring way about you. Concerned for others and how you can help them be better at being them.

Leanne Carpenter

Office of the Chief Administrative Officer - Town of Stony Plain

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Prove you're human. Select the odd one out.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

You were very easy to deal with. Pleasant manner, tone of voice and easy to speak to.  You kind of have the voice and demeanor that make people "want" to talk with you. Once people know your story, they want to talk to you more, perhaps to grab a bit of your strength and positive attitude in their own lives.  I find you to have a caring way about you. Concerned for others and how you can help them be better at being them.

Leanne Carpenter

Office of the Chief Administrative Officer - Town of Stony Plain

Zaheen Nanji is a Resilience Champion and trains people and organizations on how to build their resilience muscle so it becomes a first reflex in times of change and challenge.

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