10 Tips to Stop Procrastination in Its Tracks
By Helen Godfrey, MA, NCC, BCC, LPC
One of the biggest factors in getting things done for many people is the struggle with procrastination. Procrastination, according to the dictionary means: “The action of delaying or postponing something.” When you read that definition, doesn’t it strike you as interesting? The word “action” should mean something. When you procrastinate, you’re taking an action, an action that sabotages your ability to do a good job. Why not take action toward success instead?
“If your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything.” -David Foster Wallace
1. Understand Perfectionism – Many people self-sabotage through procrastination due to wanting everything to be perfect. The problem is that perfect doesn’t exist. The best thing you can do is to do your best on something, but get it done. Done is always better. People who are successful aren’t better than you; they just got it done.
“Do not tolerate disrespect, not even from yourself.” -Unknown
2. Improve Your Self-Esteem – A big issue with chronic procrastinators is lack of self-esteem. Building self-esteem requires that you believe in yourself and ensure that the internal voices are positive. Tell yourself that you can do it. It’s bad enough if you have outside influences that are degrading your worth. Don’t allow yourself to be your own bully.
“Make sure your own worst enemy is not living between your ears.” -Unknown
3. Move through Self-Doubt – Many times procrastination happens because you are questioning yourself and whether or not you’re the right person to do it. You genuinely feel as if you’re not educated enough, or smart enough, or the right person for the job. But, you’ve been chosen for some reason; you may as well do it and learn as you go. Most people learn as they go, even surgeons.
“Remember why you started.” -Unknown
4. Disconnect – When you have things to get done, turn off all unneeded outside influences such as the TV, social media, and the telephone other than some sort of emergency. Of course, you can turn off the phone and check messages every 90 minutes. Most of the time there is nothing you can do in a true emergency anyway.
“The only bad workout is the one you didn’t do.” -Unknown
5. Get Moving – Sometimes if you’re feeling like procrastinating on something, you need a change of scenery. Or if that’s not possible, you need a burst of energy. The best way to accomplish this is to get up and move around. Take a brisk walk, jump up and down, turn on some music and dance for five minutes. Then get back to work with a timer requiring you work for a certain time before you stop.
6. Create a Realistic Schedule – Some people procrastinate because their schedule is not realistic and they’re exhausted. Be honest with what you can accomplish in a given day. People are so busy these days, especially if you have children in after-school activities, elderly parents, or other issues causing havoc on your day. Be realistic; put everything in your schedule so that you really know what you’re up against. Have an ongoing to do list that has some flexibility. There are probably items that don’t need your immediate attention so prioritize your top items so you don’t become overwhelmed and unmotivated. Sometimes setting the bar too high can be demoralizing.
“If you talk about it, it is a dream. If you envision it, it’s possible and if you schedule it, it’s real.” -Anon
7. Put It in Your Calendar – Once you have everything written down that you need to do, put it in your calendar. Everything including down time should be scheduled for the procrastinator. If you have a night-time routine such as showering, shaving, brushing and reading, put that in your schedule too.
8. Set Up Reminders – Most electronic calendars allow you to set up reminders and alarms. This can be very helpful to many procrastinators because you know that when the alarm goes off you can do something else. That makes doing the stuff you don’t want to do so much easier to get through because you get to do something else soon.
9. Be Accountable – It can help to find an accountability partner to assist you with procrastination issues. Set up a way to check in with someone each week to discuss whether or not you accomplished the things you set out to accomplish. This can be a friend, a mentor, or a paid coach.
10. Reward Yourself – When you get through a day doing everything on your list, give yourself a reward of some sort. You can earn points and cash in the points to do something fun. It might better to have an experience such as a massage rather than to reward yourself with food.
Procrastination is often really just a sign of believing you need to be perfect, fear of judgement and doubting that you can do it right. When you set up your day to overcome those internal issues, you can stop procrastination in its tracks.