How to Stop Procrastinating: 4 Common Reasons and Resolutions
This post was originally published on jackcanfield.com
Are you one of the millions of people who need to learn how to stop procrastinating? Do you ever put off a task only to find yourself in a mess of panic and anxiety as you scramble to finish it before the due date?
Have you ever asked yourself, “Why do I do this?”
It’s because it’s a habit. Go on, admit it and say it aloud, you are a procrastinator.
If it’s any comfort, you’re not the only one. Just about everyone procrastinates. Sometimes that’s good, but mostly it’s an insidious, chronic malaise that will cripple your future.
So why do you continue to procrastinate, despite knowing that the end result will only produce turmoil and subpar work?
There are 4 good reasons why you may be choosing to procrastinate right now, but with a little help you can overcome this nasty habit and take decisive action toward achieving your hopes and dreams.
Here are 4 reasons why you may be wasting time and how to stop procrastinating:
1. You procrastinate because you’re bored
It’s a fact of life. We all feel less than enthusiastic from time to time. Sometimes our work becomes routine and we end up just going through the motions.
But how do you combat this?
First, recognize that you’re bored. Be conscious of your feelings, your falling energy levels, and your lack of desire to finish your projects. Ask yourself a few questions and be totally honest with your answers. Am I bored with what I’m doing? Why am I bored? What would give me a lot more energy?
Successful people maintain their excitement by constantly going after new projects and bigger opportunities. They thrive on taking new risks and the possibility that they might hit a massive home run. And the uncertainty makes it even more appealing!
Keep raising your level of expectation and never become satisfied with routine business that requires no challenge or ingenuity.
2. You procrastinate because you’re overwhelmed
Often people procrastinate because they let things pile up, instead of handling one task at a time and taking each task to completion.
This may start with one little thing that doesn’t get done because the time wasn’t right, or you just didn’t feel like doing it. Then something else comes along, and you postpone that, too. Now you have two things to do.
Individually, neither one seems too big to accomplish, but together they create resistance. And after a while, a growing list of a half dozen items has been put off and procrastination has reared its ugly head.
If you’re not careful, this can begin controlling you, and you will become overwhelmed and won’t know where to start.
To combat this, start each day by doing the list of tasks you least want to work on or the tasks that are the most challenging. Then, you won’t have to worry about them piling up and looming over your head.
3. You procrastinate because you’re doing work you don’t really enjoy
There are two sides to this kind of dilemma. The first is that all of us are required to do certain things we don’t enjoy. That’s one of the rules of the game if you want to become more successful. You may not like it but that’s the way it is.
Successful people do the things that unsuccessful people don’t like to do. They don’t enjoy doing some of these things either, but they go ahead and do them anyway. This is a fundamental point, one that you need to fully understand if you’re going to learn how to stop procrastinating.
The other side of the coin is that you may be stuck in a mediocre job or career that doesn’t allow you to use your greatest abilities. If that’s true, then look for an opportunity to expand your talents. Life is too short to be stuck in work you don’t enjoy. Most of the time, the type of work you do should stimulate you and give you energy.
Why stay in something that drains your energy and is not fulfilling?
If you’re not switching careers due to fear, remember that the biggest rewards in life are found outside your comfort zone. Being willing to feel the fear and take action anyway are prerequisites if you want to enjoy a life of success and adventure.
4. You procrastinate because you’re lazy
I’m going to be blunt for a moment. If you avoid taking action because you’d rather put your feet up every night and watch movie reruns on TV, there’s little chance you’ll be enjoying an abundant lifestyle anytime soon. If this were you, then you wouldn’t have any interest in figuring out how to not procrastinate and you probably wouldn’t be reading this post, so cheers to you!
The bottom line?
Success takes effort and consistent, focused activity. Laziness is not part of the equation.
Imagine what could happen if everyone substituted his or her TV time with regular meditation!
Now it’s time for YOU to succeed and stop procrastinating
Keeping these 4 reasons in mind, I want to leave you with a few thoughts.
Write down a list of things that you may be putting off doing right now, then ask yourself WHY am I putting off doing these things? If you can’t think of a good reason why you can’t complete the task, then make a plan of action for how you’re going to complete it and by when.
To hold yourself accountable (now that you’ve learned how to stop procrastinating), leave a comment below with the list of tasks you’re going to complete and by when. I’ll follow up with you to make sure you’re staying on track!
Remember, nothing will change for the better until you do.
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Bonus Strategy: Chunk-Down that Goal to Avoid Procrastination
Sometimes our biggest life goals seem so overwhelming.
We rarely see them as a series of small, achievable tasks, but in reality, breaking down a large goal into smaller tasks — and accomplishing them one at a time — is exactly how any big goal gets achieved.
After you have decided what you really want, with specific deadlines, the next step is to determine all of the individual action steps you will need to take to accomplish your goal.
How to Chunk It Down
There are several ways to figure out the action steps you will need to take to accomplish any goal. One is to consult with people who have already done what you want to do and ask what steps they took. From their experience, they can give you all of the necessary steps as well as advice on what pitfalls to avoid.
Another way is to purchase a book or manual that outlines the process.
Yet another way is to start from the end and look backward. You simply close your eyes and imagine that it is now the future and you have already achieved your goal. Then just look back and see what you had to do to get to where you now are. What was the last thing you did? And then the thing before that, and then the thing before that, until you arrive at the first action you had to start with.
Remember that it is okay not to know how to do something.
It’s okay to ask for guidance and advice from those who do know. Sometimes you can get it free, and sometimes you have to pay for it. Get used to asking, “Can you tell me how to go about…?” and “What would I have to do to…?” and “How did you…?”
Keep researching and asking until you can create a realistic action plan that will get you from where you are to where you want to go.
What will you need to do? How much money will you need to save or raise? What new skills will you need to learn? What resources will you need to mobilize? Who will you need to enroll in your vision? Who will you need to ask for assistance? What new disciplines or habits will you need to build into your life?
Another valuable technique for creating an action plan for your goals is called mind mapping.
How to Stop Procrastinating with Mind Mapping
Mind mapping is a simple but powerful process for creating a detailed to do list for achieving your goal. It lets you determine what information you’ll need to gather, who you’ll need to talk to, what small steps you’ll need to take, how much money you’ll need to earn or raise, which deadlines you’ll need to meet, and so on — for each and every goal.
When I began creating my first educational audio program — a breakthrough goal that led to extraordinary gains for me and my business — I used mind mapping to help me “chunk down” that very large goal into all the individual tasks I would need to complete to produce a finished product.
To mind-map your own goals, follow these steps as illustrated in the example:
- Center circle: In the center circle, jot down the name of your stated goal — in this case, Create an Audio Educational Program.
- Outside circles: Next, divide the goal into the major categories of tasks you’ll need to accomplish to achieve the greater goal — in this case, Title, Studio, Topics, Audience, and so on.
- Spokes: Then, draw spokes radiating outward from each mini-circle and label each one (such as Write Copy, Color Picture for Back Cover, and Arrange Lunch.)
On a separate line connected to the minicircle, write every single step you’ll need to take. Break down each one of the more detailed task spokes with action items to help you create your master to do list.
Next, Make a Daily To-Do List
Once you’ve completed a mind map for your goal, convert all of the to-do items into daily action items by listing each one on your daily to-do lists and committing to a completion date for each one. Then schedule them in the appropriate order into your calendar, and do whatever it takes to stay on schedule.
Do First Things First
The goal is to stay on schedule and complete the most important item first. In his excellent book, Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, Brian Tracy reveals not just how to conquer procrastination but also how to prioritize and complete all of your action items.
In his unique system, Brian advises goal setters to identify the one to five things you must accomplish on any given day, and then pick the one you absolutely must do first. This becomes your biggest and ugliest frog.
He then suggests you accomplish that task first — in essence, eat that frog first — and, by so doing; make the rest of your day much, much easier. It’s a great strategy. But unfortunately, most of us leave the biggest and ugliest frog for last, hoping it will go away or somehow become easier. It never does. However, when you accomplish your toughest task early in the day, it sets the tone for the rest of your day.
By chunking down your goals, and then taking daily action on them, you create momentum and build your confidence, both of which move you farther and faster toward the achievement of your goals.
Now go take some action and leave a comment below if you’ve successfully figured out how to stop procrastinating!