Stop Procrastinating: Tips for Getting it Done

When I work with some clients, I often find myself asking, “Why are they not doing the things they need to do?” We’ve identified the top priority items, why not get them done? Of course, I can also look at my own To-Do list and ask myself why I’m not doing that top priority item…

The answer is procrastination. When people are faced with too many things to do, they have a natural inclination to procrastinate. (And as a business owner, you have too many things to do.) Just because you are busy, doesn’t mean you aren’t procrastinating. In fact, if you find yourself so crazy busy with smaller tasks that you don’t have time for a more important task, chances are you ARE procrastinating.

People are more likely to delay action when they perceive that something is difficult, unpleasant or time-consuming. Often there is an underlying fear. The task could be outside your comfort zone and we all have a natural fear and discomfort about facing different challenges. There is fear of failure and there is also fear of success. You might want to ask yourself why you’re not getting that task done (and it’s not because you’re too busy!). Many times we’re not even sure what we’re fearful of. But the best thing is to feel that fear. Yes, feel the fear and face it!

A quick tip is to change a few of the words we use with ourselves. The words “should,” “ought,” and “must” carry negative connotations, yet I often hear people using these (and I have caught myself also). Our human instinct is to push back from these words. So try using “choose,” “want,” and “will.” For instance, instead of saying, “I should finish this project today,” or “I must get this done by Friday,” try saying, “I want to finish this today,” or “I choose to get this done by Thursday.” The phrase “I will be happy to…” is also a good one. The inner dialogue we have with ourselves can make a big difference in how we approach our work. It’s part of our mind set. And we can start to shift our mind set with these subtle changes. Other tricks to play on our mind in order to overcome procrastination are:

  • Take just one tiny step
  • Set a timer for 10 minutes to work on the task (chances are you’ll keep going longer)
  • Don’t go for perfect (tell yourself this is just a rough draft or a trial)
  • Outline the steps in the task
  • Eliminate multitasking
  • Smell an orange peel (shown to bring about relaxation/reduction of fear)
  • Visualize yourself completing the task
  • Reward yourself when finished (favorite magazine, meal, movie, massage, etc.)
  • Don’t wait until you’re “in the mood” (that won’t happen – just decide to start)

If you let work on lower-level projects stand in the way of accomplishing higher-level tasks, you are procrastinating. And I can tell you from experience that the task is never easier when put off until later. True accomplishments take time, energy and commitment. So if you have something you need to do, choose to take care of it now.

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