We all put off the things we don’t enjoy from time to time, but inevitably – and for business owners in particular – procrastinating will only lead to even more stress. Leading international motivational speaker and authority on productivity in the workplace, Chelsea Pottenger, explains why we procrastinate and shares her top tips on how to take control and stop putting the hard stuff off.
“It’s not due until Friday, I’ll do it later.”
“I can put off laundry for another day, I’ve still got some clothes.”
“I’ve already eaten a cookie today, I’ll start my diet tomorrow.”
Do any of these sound familiar? We’ve all procrastinated – it’s a part of life. Whether it’s cleaning the house or getting that report done, it’s easy to delay a task for a more instantly gratifying one.
No singular reason causes procrastination. However, if you can dig down to its cause, you may find that it’s easier to put some tools in place to prevent it from happening.
So why do we procrastinate?
Clinical psychologist, Dr Alexander Rozental, says procrastination typically falls into four categories:
- Expectancy: a lack of self-belief that you will achieve the task, or assume you need to be in the ‘right frame of mind’ to complete it.
- Value: a lack of intrinsic motivation. Understanding why the goal is important to you but simply not caring enough to do it.
- Time: the endpoint is too far away. You struggle viewing a project as a priority, or rewarding, if it’s too far into the future.
- Impulsivity: you like the rush of last-minute deadlines. You believe you work better ‘under pressure.’
We rarely procrastinate on things we enjoy or find fun. Instead, we procrastinate on difficult, unpleasant, stressful or boring things. If a task feels overwhelming or promotes a feeling of anxiety, it’s easier to avoid it.
This often has to do with emotional self-regulation, especially the inability to manage negative feelings.
So, how do you identify your habits? Is there a particular thing you are constantly procrastinating on?
Ask yourself the following:
- What are the thought patterns around this?
- Do you understand why you are procrastinating on this task?
- What is stopping you? Is it a lack of urgency, desire, or confidence, or do you want that last-minute rush?
6 tips to take control and stop procrastinating
1. Get an accountability partner
By committing to someone or making a social commitment, you are more likely to feel social pressure to meet the objective. When choosing an accountability partner, it’s key to make sure you find someone supportive, with similar values and beliefs.
2. Get a good why
If you don’t believe in the purpose of the task, it will be challenging to stop procrastinating. For example, doing your taxes only needs to have a simple reason attached: ‘If I don’t do this, I will get fined.’
3. Break it down
Break it down into smaller parts if the task or project seems too big or overwhelming. It’s often much easier when you realise that it’s just a series of small steps, rather than a giant leap. First, write down the big goal, then all the little steps. Then start ticking them off, so you feel rewarded for your progress.
4. Reward yourself
If there is a task that you can’t get up the energy or motivation to do, link it to a reward. For example, ‘after I complete this task, I will get a coffee.’ Or, ‘after I finish the first step on this task, I will go for a swim’.
Our brains love dopamine, so use it to your advantage.
5. Remove distractions
That means turning off all your notifications on your phone, email or TV, putting on noise-cancelling headphones and just getting started.
6. Practice self-compassion
If you find yourself putting off a task, don’t forget that you are only human. Treat yourself with kindness and understanding. Remember, you aren’t the first person to procrastinate, and you won’t be the last.
This post originally appeared on Kochie’s Business Builders, read the original here.
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