Procrastination – Does it hold you back?
This article comes from a great Life Coach Sandie Shaw from High Peak Life Coaching – Sandie specialises in working with women and uses some amazing techniques to boost peoples confidence to help you achieve your goal. if you haven’t already check out Sandie’s website for a free coaching appraisal do so now
Why are some of our best ideas doomed to fail sometimes before we’ve even got started?
You intend to make an important phone call… but then it doesn’t seem so important after all. You thought you were going to the gym … but some how you never seem to get there. You were going to clean the car… but, nahh, manana.
Decisions like these are absolutely fine. We choose one option over another, one after the other and that’s how we make our way through our lives. Procrastination only becomes a problem when we end up later regretting the decision that we made. When we choose a low priority task over a high priority task. When we choose something that makes us feel better in the short term (a fleeting good feeling) over something that will make us feel good in the long term (a lasting good feeling). When actually, you really did want to go to the gym and now you feel unhealthy and fed-up. Because you really did want to make that phone call and now you’ve missed out on a great opportunity. Because actually, your car really is a mess and it seriously get’s you down!
Here are a few ideas to ensure procrastination doesn’t spoil your day.
Top tips for beating procrastination.
Write your idea down on paper. When an idea or a personal goal materialises in your mind, capture it and make it real by writing it down. Until you write it down it is just a thought floating around in the back of your mind with lots of other thoughts which could be replaced our shifted out of your mind at any second. Crystallizing your goal in writing will make it real and far more likely to happen.
Really know ‘why’ you want to do what you want to do. Look at the value attached to your goal. Ask yourself, how will my life be improved in the long run if I do this? How will my life be improved in the long run if I don’t? Keep focusing on the key benefits of the goal.
Really know ‘how’ you will do it. Have a clear vision in your mind about how you will take action on your goal. How will you make a start? What will you do next? How will you finish? Run through the series of events in your mind and picture yourself actually doing it.
Recognise any positive intention that could be behind your procrastinating thoughts. Procrastination is not always a bad thing. If your thoughts are telling you to stay in and relax when the plan is to go out and see your friends, then it’s worth recognising this second desire. Stick to the plan but compromise by taking care of your conflicting need as the second priority. See your friends the first night and take time out for yourself the following night. See if you can meet both needs but on two different occasions.
If you have a number of things to do, do the most challenging and unpleasant task first. The unpleasant task is the task you are most likely to procrastinate over. Always do the hardest or most unpleasant task first.
Avoid getting into a mental discussion about doing the task at hand. Remember, you know what you want to do and why you want to do it and you know how to get started. Practice saying to yourself ‘no, this is not up for discussion’ and get started on that high priority task. The more you practice over-riding your procrastinating thought patterns with real physical action the quicker you will be able to handle procrastination next time it rears it’s ugly head.
Develop your HFT (High Frustration Tolerance). Lets face it, some jobs are no fun. Whether this is because we find a task difficult, awkward, boring or tedious, it doesn’t mean that it’s best avoided. We live in a pleasure seeking society, entertainment is a big part of our lives and instant gratification is often in constant supply. As a consequence, I believe we are losing the ability to tolerate things which do not give us instant gratification and sometimes we develop a low tolerance to frustrating activities (LFT). Although happiness is our birth-right, it is worth remembering that not everything we do is going to make us feel instantly good. Strengthen your ability to handle frustration and stay focused on the key benefits of doing what you are doing and remind yourself why it’s worth putting up with a little short term discomfort from time to time.
Know your goal in terms of your capabilities. If the goal is too easy you are likely to find it boring – can you make the task more interesting? Can you raise the bar a little higher? Do it quicker? Do it better? On the other hand, if the task is too challenging, then this might be a sticking point too. How can you improve your capabilities? What resources are available to you? Do you need some help? Does it have to be completely perfect? If you can get the balance right between the task at hand and your capabilities, then your task really will just flow.
Break down big jobs into small manageable tasks and keep at it, one small task at a time. Remember Michael Lotito the chap who achieved his bazaar goal to eat a whole airplane? (pictured above). Michael didn’t achieve this by biting off more than he could chew! He did it one tiny bite-size nibble at a time and kept at it over the course of two years until the whole plane was gone.
Tell several people what you intend to do. Make a pact with people and ask them for their support and encouragement. Get committed to your goal in public – it’s not so easy to procrastinate when everyone is watching you. Alternatively, find people who are wanting to do the same thing as you and move forward together as a team.
Reward yourself every time you beat procrastination and stick to your plan. Beating procrastination IS a big deal and it deserves to be recognised as such. Celebrate your good work! Celebrate small achievements as well as big ones. Next time you get stuck you will remember that you can beat procrastination; you’ve done it before, it feels great and you can do it again. Treat yourself, you deserve it!
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