Stop procrastinating 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 in the position of procrastinating at one point or another. Today we explore how we can systematically stop procrastinating.

The failure of resolutions

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.  It’s a tried and tested sequence whereby people are not able to systematically stop procrastinating as their preferred way of behaving. Never being able to make meaningful change.

Change now or change later

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 do you procrastinate?

Why we procrastinate

1. Time

Time is probably the most commonly cited reason for procrastination. 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?

2. The odd one out

Another reason you procrastinate maybe 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.

3. 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 not just about fitness

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 systematically stop procrastinating

1. Limit decisions to stall procrastination

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 workday; 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. Sleep

Give yourself plenty of sleep. Our 24/7 society has made nights of sleep 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. Start early

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. Examine obstacles to eliminating procrastination

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.

Procrastination is psychological

Not being able to stop procrastinating is a psychological problem that is fueled by physiological limitations.  Once you recognise that 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.

Getting in the right mindset is essential and using a systematic approach to help stop procrastinating is key.

Image by Pixabay

Morag Barrett is a sought-out leadership & executive development consultant, professional speaker, and author of Cultivate. The Power of Winning Relationships. Her second book, The Future-Proof Workplace, co-authored with Dr. Linda Sharkey was named Best Business Book of 2017 by Soundview Executive Book Summaries.

As the founder and CEO of SkyeTeam she partners with and speaks for a diverse range of clients, including Google, NTT Security, Charter Communications, The Society for Information Management and Ultimate Software among others. She has contributed to, and and has been featured in Business Insider, Inc and Forbes among others.

Morag was recently selected from more than 16,000 to join the Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coaches Group. 100 Coaches are highly accomplished and compassionate people, each one committed to using their talents to make good people and organizations better. Together, the 100 Coaches create a unique spectrum of talent including the world’s leading executive coaches, consultants, speakers, authors, iconic leaders, entrepreneurs and non-profit leaders.

Morag holds a master’s degree in Human Resource Management from De Montfort University, UK and received the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) designation. She’s a recognized business coach for the Corporate Coach University and is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in the UK.

When not at work, Morag can be found sailing with her three sons, playing the bassoon for the Broomfield Symphony Orchestra, or ballroom dancing.