Procrastination can be an absolute killer. We get stuck, procrastinating and procrastinating, and then we procrastinate about how we’re procrastinating. We get sucked into social media, TV, the internet and basically look around to do anything but what we should actually be doing.
Today I’m going to share with you some simple tips you can implement right now to help you break free from the vicious cycle of procrastination.
Can it be done today?
Basically, procrastination is putting something off. Moving it to the next day, then the next, then the next.
The problem is, when we continually put something off, it leaves this big jumbled mess of stuff to remember in our brain. A huge list of all the things we need to do. Plus the nagging guilt that we still haven’t done what we needed to do! This takes up a lot of energy and decision making capability in our brain.
So, the best rule of thumb is if it can be done today, do it today.
Ok, so now I hear you saying ‘Whoa, whoa, Toni, but I’ve got so much to do!’ – it all needs to be done today!
But, does it?
Every time something comes across your table or into your mind that you need to do, I want you to think about four things:
- Should I actually be doing this? Is it something that actually aligns with my goals? Is it getting me where I need to go? Or is it just a shiny new object I think I should be chasing down.
- Can I delegate it? If it does need to be done, does it have to be done by you? Could you outsource it to someone else or have family or friends help you out?
A great example for me is I really don’t love cooking and it takes a lot of my time, so instead my husband helps out and does the cooking for me. Are there things like that that are taking up a lot of time and energy that you don’t need to do at all?
- Can it be deferred and scheduled later?
The next thing is to defer. I know I just said ‘If you can do it today, do it today.’ But there are bigger projects that we can’t do today, so you’ll need to defer them.
The key is, when you make the choice to defer something, you need to actually schedule it in for a later date.
Without a date and plan in your calendar, it’s just going to be another thing that keeps getting pushed back. You need to schedule in a time to make sure it gets done.
Can you dump it?
Yes, dump. Too often we’ve got a case of yes-itis and just say yes to everything, even things we shouldn’t be doing. Things that aren’t helping us get closer to our goals. In fact, by doing them, they’re taking us further away from our goals.
I’m totally not saying you should never help anyone else or never do anything that doesn’t benefit you. The issue is when (some) people know you say yes all the time, they take advantage of that and keep asking for more.
You need to get into the habit of pushing back and saying no.
Often when we’re asked to do something we take it really seriously, stressing about getting it done on time and absolutely perfect for that person. Then in return, they’re just really flippant about the whole thing and don’t really even thank you or recognise your efforts! Sound familiar? Those type of requests are a big waste of time. Dump those things FAST.
So now you’ve asked yourself those 4 questions and made a few decisions about what actually does need to get done by you, here are a few more pointers for actually doing them.
Aim for progress, not perfection
Getting over your perfectionist mindset is really going to help you push through procrastination.
Go for progress, not perfection. Too often we spend so much time procrastinating because we want things to be perfect. We want to get it just right and take so much time to get it done.
I received a great piece of advice from a really good mentor of mine. He told me perfection is actually the lowest standard we can have.
Whaaaat? What do you mean perfection is the lowest standard we can have?
Here’s why; perfection is like this magical unicorn, some far away fairy-dust land. Perfect doesn’t actually exist. We’re chasing this never-ending ideal of trying to reach this perfection that doesn’t really exist.
The real power comes from progress.
Even if things aren’t perfect, even if things aren’t exactly how you want them, you’re much better doing it and putting it out there, than getting stuck in this procrastination cycle, waiting for perfection to come along. Swap your perfection mentality for progress mentality!
Try the Pomodoro Technique
This lil’ technique is a game changer, my friend. I won’t go into the whole history of the Pomodoro Technique (you can read about it here) but basically, it’s the idea that you work in little sprint sessions.
For example, you set the timer to work for a 15-minute sprint on one task with no distractions. Once the time is up, you take a little break. Then you sprint for another 15 minutes again. At the end of an hour of mini sprints and breaks, you take a slightly longer break.
If I have a really in-depth task that I’m working on, I might sprint for an hour but never any longer than 60 minutes as it’s hard to stay focused. The whole idea is you have an intense focus on one task for the sprint.
These sprint sessions really help kill procrastination because you’re breaking a bigger task down into more manageable chunks, which means you’re less likely to put it off.
Plus, when you decide to focus on nothing but that one task for a certain amount of time, you block out all other distractions like Facebook, Instagram and the internet in general!
So, let’s recap on how you’re going to stop procrastination in its tracks:
- If can be done today, you’re going to do it today.
- Anything that comes across your desk, you’re going to look at it and ask yourself the 4 D’s – Will I Do this, Defer this, Delegate or Dump?
- You’re going to stop aiming for perfection and go for progress instead!
- Finally, you’re going to use the Pomodoro Technique to work in mini sprints and stay focused without distractions – you’ll get so much more achieved.
I know that if you apply these tips above to whatever projects or action you’re procrastinating about, you’ll break free and be able to move forward!
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