Putting it off, delaying, procrastinating. It’s a problem, right? Not just for you, procrastination is a massive, debilitating problem for so many people. It holds us back from making decisions and stops us from doing the things that we know must be done.
Take a step back for a moment and take stock of what your life looks like right now. How happy are you? Are you achieving all of the things that you think you could be achieving? Think back to the start of the year, have you acted on any of those goals that you set yourself for this year?
Would the 18-year-old version of you be proud of the person they see before them?
If you’re feeling as though you would be happier, fitter or more productive if you could only procrastinate less, then you’re not alone. In fact, according to range of studies, one in five people are chronic procrastinators.
So why do we procrastinate?
For the most part, we procrastinate out of fear. Whether it’s the fear of failure or the fear of not being good enough, fear is at the essence of what holds so many of us back from doing what we need to do.
If you’re terrified of failure it might stand to reason that avoidance is the best medicine. After all, if you don’t attempt to even try and do what needs to be done then you can’t fail, right?
In fact, what usually happens is your to-do list simply piles up in front of you. Your tasks move from being simply ‘important’ to ‘important and urgent’, the result is often a missed deadline and a poorer quality of work. Sometimes it results in you completely abandoning a goal. It can even stretch your relationships at times. It almost always leads to stress.
If the task at-hand is difficult and you’re afraid of failure then chances are that your fear could take the form of procrastination.
Why should I stop procrastinating?
If you’re reading this you’re probably familiar with the effects of procrastination. After all, if you were happy with your life you probably wouldn’t need this kick up the bum.
We feel the negative effects of procrastination every time we miss a deadline or hit the snooze button. But the benefits of changing your habits around procrastination go further than simply handing in your report on time.
Less stress, less anxiety – Research shows that leaving too many things on your to-do list can lead to greater levels of stress and anxiety. Think about it, if you have a big task ahead of you and you know that you need to set aside a good portion of time to complete it, then pushing the task to the side makes no sense right?
And because we seldom push tasks entirely aside in our mind, that incomplete task still eats away at us in the back of our heads. Like a nagging mother-in-law in a TV sitcom, the voice of the incomplete task gets louder and stress-inducing as the days pass. This is especially true if you’re someone who is already prone to anxiety.
Better quality of results – You know that what you’re facing needs a lot of attention. Whether it’s responding to a brief at work that requires a bunch of background work or training to run a half-marathon by the end of the year, if you are able to ignore your impulse to procrastinate, you’re going to see better results.
Better relationships – This may seem a little abstract but chronic procrastination can often impact our personal and professional relationships. Take, for example, an important piece of work that your boss needs from you. You’ve had weeks to tackle it but now, in the last week, you’re finally working on it (and it’s bigger than you thought).
You stick around until after dinner each night just to complete it and end up sending off an email to your boss at 9pm when they were expecting it at 5 o’clock. Not only does your boss take note of the frantic eleventh hour spree, but your partner is sitting at home, arms folded, wondering why they had to cook dinner alone once again.
Your health wins – It’s obvious that if you’re a chronic procrastinator in other parts of life, there’s a fair chance you’re not the biggest go-getter when it comes to exercise. Meaning that your health takes a back seat. Not only that, but there are other flow-on effects from the stress and anxiety you’re causing yourself.
How do I kick the habit?
Firstly, you need to commit. Commit yourself to goals that stretch yourself. Set a new standard for yourself that will result in you becoming better than ever. Tell yourself ‘by this date, I will be _______’. Don’t say ‘I’ll try to be ______’, commit yourself to your goal.
eg.“By Christmas I will have lost 12 kilos”
Committing in this way ensures that you feel strongly about your goal. Determine your goal, commit and work from there.
You’ve set yourself a goal and you’re committed to it, great! But your real motivation to change starts with discipline. Discipline is really just another word for consistency. By building habits out of your ways of working you begin building consistency. It’s your key to a new, disciplined approach to life.
Don’t beat yourself up
Everybody fails from time-to-time, it’s the most human thing that you can do. Every person who has ever achieved something great has failed numerous times in the lead up to their success. If you have a fear of failure you will never be successful, you will always stay as you are because that’s your comfort zone.
It’s important to remember not to beat yourself up when everything doesn’t go exactly to plan. The most important thing is to learn. Did you miss a deadline? That’s okay, learn how to plan better next time. Did you find yourself watching YouTube videos when you should have been exercising? That’s fine, find another time and commit yourself to not making the same mistake.
While you shouldn’t beat yourself up for mistakes, you do need to take responsibility for your actions, both positive and negative. Once you start taking responsibility you’ll find more pride in your success meaning that you’ll begin to replicate what you need to do to be successful. You’ll also find that you begin to avoid procrastination as you become increasingly aware of how it reflects on you.
We would like to challenge you now to stop reading and make those changes in your life. We’re laying out four challenges for you to tackle right now to kick procrastination for good:
Imagine you’re on your deathbed
It might sound grim, but try it. We so often lose the clarity about what’s important, but when we have the perspective to look in the rearview mirror at our lives we often see things differently. If deathbed you were looking at current you right now, what would you be doing differently?
Set an alarm for tomorrow morning…
…and don’t hit that snooze button. We’re not telling you to set an alarm at a ridiculously early hour (sleep is sacrosanct!), even just a little earlier than you would normally rise is a start. Set an alarm, don’t hit snooze and get up. Do something with the extra time that you wouldn’t have done. Go for a run, do some reading or make a smoothie. It doesn’t matter what you do, what’s important is building a habit of committing and following through.
Set yourself a new goal
If you don’t have a goal that you’re working toward, work out what it is. What do you desire to change more than anything? Set yourself a new goal, a new working standard.
Start today and let us know how you go. If you want, you can commit yourself to the goal in the comments below or join the conversation on our Facebook. And remember that you don’t need to do any of this alone, if you’re goal involves a physical change Better Than Ever can help you get started. Register for a Kickstart session now and get moving on your new goals.
Let’s kick procrastination!