“Procrastination is the grave where opportunities are buried.”
Let’s be honest. We’ve all procrastinated over something at some point in our lives, right? I mean, there are just those times we can’t make it over the hump. And that’s okay. Really.
And although it’s okay to procrastinate about some things (like making a major purchase or making a life-changing decision), we can’t let it be the status quo in our lives. We have to learn how to overcome our regular practice of delaying or postponing tasks.
Why we procrastinate & how to overcome it
There are several reasons why we procrastinate when we are faced with tasks. If we can understand why we are putting off doing what needs to be done, then we’re half way to the finish line! Once we internalize why we procrastinate, then we can take the necessary steps to overcome our hesitations and start making progress.
Below are the top five reasons why people procrastinate and tips to help you with each:
1. Fear – Fear is the number one inhibitor to people accomplishing great things. I mentioned fear of failure and fear of success as reasons why we procrastinate. Here are a few tips to help you in this area:
- Understand that failure is a learning opportunity, not the end of the world.
- If we never fail, we never truly grow.
- Don’t worry about the changes or responsibilities that come with success. Relish in the success you accomplish and embrace what comes with it as a reward for your efforts.
- Most often the fear of something is worse than the thing itself.
- Do it afraid!
2. Perfectionism – Since no one in this world is perfect, no one is capable of producing perfect outcomes. If we don’t undertake a task because we can’t be perfect or produce perfect outcomes, we are only shortchanging ourselves. Try to remember these things:
- Set realistic expectations for the task at hand, not perfectionist ones. Ask yourself, “What does good look like for this task?” and work to accomplish that.
- Give up trying to be perfect and be content with who you are and what you are capable of.
- Let it go — if you see imperfection in your work, don’t dwell on it; leave it and move on. Odds are you are the only one who will notice the imperfection.
- Focus on the right goal. Is the end result a completed task or a perfect one? Most often we are aiming for the wrong goal.
- Adopt the motto: Good & done is better than none!
3. Overwhelmed by the Task – So how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! Give these tips a try to give you a jump start to your task:
- Break down the task into smaller, more manageable pieces and start with the easier task first. You could also try starting with the more difficult task first and get it over with, so that the rest of your project is a piece of cake. Either way you do it, the key is to break the job up so it doesn’t seem larger than life.
- Get a grip on the size and scope of the task. Does it feel as if the project is going to take forever? The odds are it will take much less time than you think, so try to realistically assess the situation. Realizing that the task will really only take an hour seems less daunting than 10 hours, or forever.
- Try to do a little something every day towards finishing the job — remember, slow and steady wins the race.
- Set deadlines for the smaller tasks and reward yourself when you meet them. This will give you motivation to keep going.
- Heed the wisdom of Mark Twain, “The secret to getting ahead is to get started.”
4. No desire – Sometimes we just don’t feel like doing a task. Unfortunately, we can’t be ruled by our emotions and feelings as they are unpredictable and are usually determined by our circumstances. When we can’t muster the motivation towards a task, keep these things in mind:
- Make it fun and be creative. Unless you are required to complete the job in a particular manner, feel free to explore ways that would make the assignment less boring. Remember boring is as boring does!
- Try a different approach. Maybe the way you are coming at it isn’t working, and trying it in a new way will help you get the job done. As I once heard, “The best angle from which to approach any problem is the try-angle.”
- Check your motives. Are you doing this because you have to or because you want to? If it’s the former, then you may have no choice in the matter and will need to tackle the task head-on to avoid undesirable consequences. If it’s the latter, then maybe you need to figure out if you should be doing it at all, and possibly let it go.
- Ask for help. They say that two is better than one, and having someone work alongside you may be all the motivation you need. Or they may act as your accountability partner and give you the encouragement you need to accomplish your goal.
5. No knowledge – If you are given a task you have no clue how to do, try these tips:
- Ask for help. You don’t have to be ashamed that you don’t know everything. Who does? Scope out someone who does have the knowledge and ask them to teach you or guide you through the process.
- Delegate. Again, you don’t have to know everything. Give someone else an opportunity to shine and use her skills and talents to accomplish the task. She may get the applause for a job well done, but you’ll get the credit for recognizing her talent.
- Take the high road and admit that you don’t know how to do it. Someone may assume that you can accomplish the task and not realize you don’t have the knowledge or skills to do it. By being honest, the task may be given to someone else and you’re off the hook, or whoever assigned you the job may teach the skills you need. As they say, honesty is the best policy and you might just reap the rewards.
- If all else fails, learn how to do it. Yes, it will probably take you more time than you would like to spend, but in the end you’ll have accomplished the task and learned something new.
I know I said these were EASY tips, but after reading them they may not seem that way to you. I understand; really, I do. I was writing them for myself just as much as I was writing them for you.
More than anything, I want to encourage your heart. Procrastination can be a difficult thing to overcome, but the good news is that it can be overcome. It just requires you to start somewhere. Hopefully these tips will start you on that road. Remember, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step”.
Which tip did you find most helpful? How will you implement it?
Your organizing friend,
Go 2 Gal