How to Take Control of Procrastination – Kirby Ingles

Start, procrastination, procrastinate
Photo Credit: Sebastian Mary via Compfight cc

I have intended to write this post all week, but I have found other things to do.

If you are miserable because you cannot do what you need to do, keep reading.

Procrastination is prevalent and problematic. Studies show that it affects academics, work and other areas in life, like sleep and finances. Take finances for instance. Some do not file taxes until April and others have delayed retirement investing. The thinking is that we will get it to, but the consequences don’t really have an immediate impact changing how you behave towards the task. Procrastination is a voluntary delay in a task despite knowing the consequences. We fail to self-regulate our impulsive behavior which submits to instant gratification in place of long-term rewards. Procrastination has become a normal human characteristic, which gives rise to higher stress, poorer health and affects our behavior towards goals.

Recognize Procrastination

Recognize the difference between preparing and starting. You are probably in the preparation stage for some New Year resolutions right now. Narrowing down those goals such as, getting more sleep, journaling daily, and better nutrition or exercise. During the preparation stage you are analytical, gathering supplies, seeking information, tools and hatching a plan. These things could include software, equipment, memberships, etc. These things are really just a form of procrastination. You don’t need a new pair of sneakers to be running in the park or a new fitness watch to collect data. Do not overanalyze what you must do, but keep it simple instead. Tasks may become overwhelming and impossible to start because the goal appears to be far off. Do not zero in on the goal, but the process of forming a habit. Break it down into simple steps and begin. The small wins you get from achieving baby steps will increase motivation, feeding your craving for gratification and rewards.

Beating Procrastination

President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Believe you can and you’re halfway there”.

I think a great deal of Teddy, but I do not believe this quote holds true. Believing doesn’t get you halfway there, starting does. I have listened to Dan Millers’s 48 Days Podcast for some years, and one trend I have noticed is the anxiety people have over starting a new job, career, or business. Dan does a great job of helping people move past fears and transition into new endeavors. Dan becomes an accountability partner for many of these people. This is a great way to overcome procrastination. Ask someone in your circle to help you stay accountable or find a professional coach. My spouse is my personal accountability partner and I also act as an accountability coach for others.

Change your Language

Another area you can aim to reduce procrastination is your self-blaming language. We have a tendency to be pretty negative minded when we do not achieve something we wanted to. Instead of being negative, address how to change and succeed. When we focus our thoughts negatively on past experiences, it then becomes a template for our future experiences. One way to do this is to mentally rehearse achieving your goal or task. Imagine the start of the task until completion, how it will make you feel and the rewards or accolades you will receive for your accomplishment. Doing this also starts to stimulate and strengthen neural connections in your brain that will reinforce positive behavior.

Just Start

All you must do now is show up and place one foot in front of the other. Don’t be distracted by 24/7 entertainment and electronic devices. Often these things prevent us from going to bed on time and then we wake up late. We don’t get the right start, hitting the snooze button and again procrastinating. Once we begin, we have the tendency to keep on trucking. We begin to get this feeling of uneasiness when we do not finish something we started. Our unconscious mind nags at our consciousness telling it that we have unfinished business. We have all probably experienced that feeling of something left unfinished, but couldn’t call attention to it or stepped out the door and knew we were forgetting something.

Our lives are bogged down with tasks and demands. We rarely schedule ourselves time to have a pleasant time and when we do, it usually comes at the cost of increased stress, poorer health and not achieving our goals. We trade sleep and important tasks for instant stimulation and rewards. When we recognize procrastination we can beat it by keeping the process simple, by applying one’s mind to habit building, developing accountability and fixing your eyes upon change. These things bring about positive mental reinforcement. I challenge you to push away from the screen and start now.

ABT: Always Be Tweaking – Reade Milner

 

Process design is a hot topic in my book lately. I have been thinking a lot about this concept ever since I rediscovered the idea while listening to a recent podcast from one of my favorite “virtual mentors”. Renowned podcaster and virtual business superstar, Chris Ducker talks about the need to document as much of your day-to-day business processes as possible. For him, this means creating digital mind maps that outline each step of everything from blog post writing to email management.

His mantra – “treat your day like a computer program”. Each step in the process should be as efficient as possible. The more efficient the steps, the more effective the process. Sometimes, you can even eliminate the total number of steps to improve the program’s overall performance.

This ties in spectacularly with one of my favorite mottos that is adapted from the age-old sales maxim ABC (Always Be Closing). My twist is ABT, which stand for “Always Be Tweaking”. This means that you never settle for the same results over time. Even though I’m a big believer that habits and routines are incredibly effective, when consistently applied over time and truly believe they are a better route to achieving success than goal-setting, routines that add up to equal big success require constant updates and tweaking to maximize each input.

So, whether it be your social media marketing or your business processes in general, make sure to document your steps and always be looking for ways to improve each step. Always Be Tweaking.

Breaking Up With Perfectionism – Jed Jurchenko

This is my eighth post on ASmithBlog, and I am feeling rather proud of this accomplishment. What I have learned over the last year-and-a-half of writing books and blogging is that putting words to paper can be incredibly fulfilling and utterly frustrating at the same time. I have also discovered that I’m not the only one who feels this way. I have attended seminars where the writing process has been likened to puking on paper and smearing around the mess until it looks good. Other authors have used the more graphic metaphor of pouring one’s own blood into their work. Although a little dramatic for my taste, these images attest to the messiness and agony of the writing process.

 

Breaking up with perfectionism

 

These descriptions stay fresh in my mind as I transcribe my thoughts to paper because they remind me that I am normal. Communication, whether verbal, written, or done through other artistic means, can be excruciatingly frustrating at times, and it becomes even more frustrating if one has perfectionist tendencies. For a perfectionist, no work is ever complete. There are always improvements to be made. Because of this, perfectionists are often guilty of:

  • Not starting on projects, because they believe that no idea is ever good enough.
  • Not sharing their ideas with others, because no project is ever complete.
  • Not advancing the projects they do share, because the next project will be better.

Yet, these perfectionist ideals are disservices to those who hold them, as well as to everyone else. I know, because I am a perfectionist who is on a mission to break up with perfectionism. If you’re someone who has a message to share but has held back, telling yourself that you will contribute your ideas to the world “someday,” then this simple trick that I am learning to use to push through my own rigid tendencies may be helpful for you.

As a therapist, I engage in a lot of conversations with others about self-talk, or the conversations that silently go on inside of our heads. Self-talk is sneaky and often occurs outside of our awareness. For perfectionists, there is an ongoing chatterbox inside of our heads that say:

  • This work isn’t good enough.
  • Your next idea will be better.
  • Just look how good everyone else’s presentations are.
  • You don’t really want to embarrass yourself by sharing this, do you?

One simple key to overcoming this type of negative self-talk that works for me has been to remind myself that, “something is almost always better than nothing”. That phrase is so powerful, it’s worth repeating.

 

Something is almost always better than nothing.

 

As a college professor, I’ve had students pass my class by consistently turning in mediocre work, yet I have never had a student pass that didn’t turn in work at all. As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve had average days as a therapist. Days where I wish I had been more attentive and knowledgeable, yet those days are precisely what have allowed me to learn, grow, and mature in my craft. For the majority of us, if we only showed up to work on days when we were on our A-game, not only would we have missed out on some important learning opportunities, we would also have taken so much time off work that we would be unemployed.

The words and phrases we use when we silently talk to ourselves are some of the most powerful moments of communication that you and I engage in. The next time you find yourself delaying a project because you are walking hand-in-hand with perfectionism, I would encourage you to quickly let go by reminding yourself that “something is better than nothing” and then:

  • Get started on the project.
  • Publish your work.
  • Learn from the experience.
  • Improve along the way.

Perhaps your work is only mediocre, but if it’s the best work that you can do right now, then mediocre is just fine. Much has been written about failing forward in life. No one is born a success. Triumph comes with practice and the only way to become a good communicator is to start communicating right where you’re at.

 

Practice leads to experience, and experience leads to improvement.

 

 

Start now

 

Have you ever forced yourself to get started on a project in spite of self-doubt and were glad you did? If so, then you likely know the power of breaking up with perfectionism and getting stuff done!