“You must watch time’s swiftness with your speed in using it, and you must drink quickly as though from a rapid stream that will not always flow…just as travelers are beguiled by conversation or reading or some profound meditation, and find they have arrived at their destination before they knew they were approaching it; so it is with this unceasing and extremely fast-moving journey of life, which waking or sleeping we make at the same pace – the preoccupied become aware of it only when it is over” ~ Seneca
In this two part article we explore 6 reasons why you procrastinate and how you can overcome procrastination so that you can live a more productive life and make better use of your precious time by getting more of what matters most accomplished.
If you want to create successful changes or results in any area of life, whether it’s getting healthier or building a business – it will require you identifying, prioritising and taking action on the most important tasks, whether you feel like it or not. That is how you overcome procrastination. One action at a time.
Procrastination, just like it’s opposite action are habits, so whilst the solution might be straight forward, it might be that your experience of getting things done and creating change isn’t that easy. If so this article will help you understand what’s going on and how you can overcome procrastination without stressing.
What is Procrastination?
As I mentioned procrastination is a habit, the habit putting off important tasks until the last possible moment, or never actually getting around to them. This is obviously a major barrier for success. Never eating the frog, can be a major problem to your productivity, enjoyment of life and self- respect.
You Don’t Really Want it
If you haven’t TRULY committed to what you’re trying to achieve, you might as well not bother![Tweet This]
For instance you might have a goal of running a marathon, yet on deeper inspection, the idea sounds good, but really you’re not prepared to put in the hard work. You don’t want it enough.
I remember I entered the London marathon twice, never once did I make it to the start line, let alone the finish! On one occasion, injury stopped me from training. The second time I let the weather, a perceived lack of time or my mood stop me training. It wasn’t a ‘hell yeah’ – a project nothing gets in the way of. Without this deep commitment, the miles of training simply didn’t happen. It would be another 4 years until I make the goal of running a marathon important enough to complete it.
Commitment takes emotions and external factors out of the equation. If it really matters it will get done. Without it, you might as well not bother. Constantly saying you’ll do something, and then never doing what you say you will, erodes self-trust. For peace of mind and high productivity, don’t waste your time and energy on projects that really don’t matter.
the work you do when you’re procrastinating is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life
2. You Haven’t Figured Out Your Why…Yet
One of the ways to ensure commitment is to clearly understand your why – the purpose behind your actions. In his book Start With Why, Simon Sinek talks about how some of the world’s most successful and inspiring companies and leaders, put their why before the what. In other words, their purpose – their explicit reason for existing, determines their strategic direction i.e. what products and services they create, who they employ, what partnerships they get in to and so on. Businesses who’s ‘why’ is focused on serving their customers in ways that delight and improve their lives, achieve the greatest success. An obvious example is Apple Computers, others include Zappos.
What is my purpose?
Many people ask themselves this question. It is important to have an idea, being on purpose is what the most self-actualized men accomplish on their life journeys.
Your purpose acts like a light house, a guiding light helping you navigate the complexity of modern life, the dark nights and rough seas. It makes decisions of where to go next easier, because your future is lit up by a vision of what you stand for. If your ‘why’ inspires you, procrastination isn’t an option.
Defining your life purpose, isn’t the objective of this post, however rather than focusing the inquiry around what career, profession or even business to get into. Perhaps the starting point of living on purpose, is choosing to be of service to others first. By taking ‘you’ out of the inquiry, you become less self absorbed and lead by fear, which can only be a good thing.
Your life isn’t then only defined by what you do or acquire, how high you get up the ladder, the level of your bank balance or the neighborhood you live in. It becomes much more meaningful, because in the end none of that really matters.
If you can look back knowing you accomplished something so simple as making people smile. You surely lived well.[Tweet this!] When you also consider the companies and individuals who’s primary focus is on making a difference in other people’s lives, achieve the greatest success and have the most fun, it seems like a win win to me.
3.You Feel Overwhelmed
The definition of overwhelm is to bury or drown beneath a huge mass. It doesn’t sound like much fun! The feeling of overwhelm often occurs when we take on a new project we don’t fully understand or we attempt an unrealistic list of things to do in an unreasonable time frame.
The challenge and irony is, that when we feel overwhelmed it is difficult to identify or take specific action when we most need it. This is often because we haven’t broken down the project in to specific, actionable tasks to give ourselves a starting point. For instance your things to do list might have the task of ‘sort out garage’, but to complete this will require a series of specific actions i.e. identify unwanted items, put in car and take to waste disposal, sweep floor, buy shelving for paint, put up shelves etc. Until we know where to start, projects often seem ominous and get put off until we ‘feel’ like it. This doesn’t get things completed and off the agenda.
Often the starting point is to gain more clarity about the outcome for the project. In the case of sorting out the garage the outcome might be to dispose of all unwanted items and create a clean, clutter free space. Then you need to identify the very first task as David Allen points out in his book on productivity Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. Once you understand this, you have 3 choices –
1. If it can be completed in 2 minutes or less do it immediately.
2. If it will take longer and you don’t have the time available now, defer it until you can
3. If appropriate delegate it to someone who is perhaps more skilled, knowledgeable or capable
Keep going with identifying the very next action and experience your motivation and productivity rise as a consequence of seeing greater results and more completed projects. For more information about this process check out David Allen’s book.
In the next post we’ll explore reasons 4 – 6 of why you procrastinate including fear and low energy levels.
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