How to Stop Procrastinating…Tomorrow

Procrastinating
Morag Barrett
Morag Barrett is sought out speaker and the author of the bestselling book "Cultivate: The Power of Winning Relationships." She is also the founder and CEO of www.SkyeTeam.com, an international HR consulting and leadership development company. Morag’s experience ranges from senior executive coaching to developing leaders and teams across Europe, America and Asia. SkyeTeam works with clients in a range of industries including: Healthcare, Telecoms, Mining, Manufacturing, Engineering, and Technology. She's a regular contributor to the American Management Association, Entrepreneur.com and CIO.com.
Morag Barrett

@skyemorag

I help organizations, teams & individuals get unstuck | leadership development | Keynote Speaker | Author 'Cultivate. The Power of Winning Relationships'
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Morag Barrett
Morag Barrett

Procrastinating can be solved today!

Procrastination is a problem that many people have and nearly all want to solve; just not now.   Tomorrow is the preferred day for working on the propensity to put things off. We all find ourselves procrastinating at one point or another.

New Years’ resolutions are often a time when we decide that we will discard a bad habit and adopt a new and better one. Yet our will power seems to falter before the end of January. Health clubs can fund their entire year’s business on the strength of the memberships that are bought for Christmas. If everyone used their machines faithfully throughout the year, they’d have to raise their rates substantially and build bigger facilities. But they all know that in a few weeks, the majority of new customers will have given up, preferring the bad habit of procrastinating to meaningful change.

There are really only two choices to consider: change now or change later. “Change later” is always a form of procrastination, whether it’s for good or poor reasons. It’s also a way of preferring the status quo. It’s impossible to avoid the status quo tomorrow. You’re either doing it, or you’re not.

In order for any change to occur, you have to identify why you put it off; and there are a lot of reasons. Some are legitimate; most aren’t. For example, let’s say that you want to get into shape. You join a fitness club. They assign you a trainer and put you on a program. Apart from monitoring your progress and answering your questions, they’ve done they’re part. It’s up to you to come in two, three, or four times per week and do what they’ve told you to. The question is why wouldn’t you?

Why We Can’t

Time is probably the most commonly cited reason. Or more specifically the perceived lack of it. Your days are already too full, and you can’t fit one more thing in. But presumably when the membership was bought, unless it was a complete surprise, you knew that. So why did you buy it at all?

The Odd-One-Out. Another reason may be you don’t want to be the only unfit person in the gym. Of all the people who go to gyms, only a tiny proportion is there because they want others to see how they look. Most don’t care.

A lack of energy. While that makes some sense, the fact is that you won’t get any more energy if you don’t implement the program. You have to stress your body so that it has more stamina when it recovers. The less you do, the less you’ll be able to do.

It’s possible that your problem with procrastination is for something else other than fitness. The principles for overcoming it applies regardless of what your target is; whatever it is that you’re trying to change.

How to overcome procrastination…Today!

  1. Limit the number of big decisions that you have to make in a day. Research has shown that you have a limited amount of energy for this kind of thing. You get a refill when you sleep at the end of your work day; whenever that is. If you use it up on less important things, then it will be easier to put off doing what is most important.
  2. Give yourself plenty of rest. Our 24/7 society has made nights of five or six hours commonplace, even acceptable. You should aim for eight. Seven should be the bare minimum and only when you must. If you can’t get the rest you need on a regular basis, then you’re trying to do too much. You can’t do it all anyway, so there’s no point in trying regardless.
  3. Do whatever it is that you’ve decided to do as early in the day as you can. From a psychological standpoint, that’s when the task will seem the smallest. When you procrastinate, you make your task grow in your mind. The problem will look worse than it is at the very beginning of its life and your day than it will later in its development period.
  4. Identify the one thing that prevents you from making this change. Quite often we delude ourselves into thinking that that there isn’t anything in particular that gets in the way; that’s it’s our circumstances. But the truth is that these things happen by way of a chain reaction. The greatest obstacle may seem unrelated to that which you want to change, so take a close look at everything that leads up to the times when you procrastinate.
  5. Eliminate distractions. Change requires focus. If your mind is flitting from one thing to the next, then it will be very easy to fall into the rut that you were in before. Make sure that you’re single-minded about the change that you want to make.

As long as you recognize that procrastination is a psychological problem that is fueled by physiological limitations, then you’ll have a good chance of overcoming the problem. Once you allow yourself to assume that your circumstances are beyond your control, you’re defeated.

If you identify the right causes, then you’ll find the right solutions.

1 Comment

  • Thomas Meyer says:

    Excellent advise that can (should) be regularly followed when deciding how and when to confront and resolve conflict and litigation. Its common practice to hide behind litigation to put off or avoid tough decisions. It applies with equal force whether you are a plaintiff or a defendant. The sooner you confront and resolve the situation, whether by a negotiation supervised by a mediator or otherwise, the better.