Beat Procrastination and Take Back Your Time

My name’s Laura and I’m a recovering procrastination-oholic

If procrastination was an Olympic sport I’d have been a Gold medallist for sure. Having been in training all my life, there’s no doubt that the point at which my skills peaked and I truly went for gold was when I opened my first business. I went in with the mindset of a winner – “I’m going to have the most clients, with the most talented team, and make the most revenue….all in the first year.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of reaching for the stars but I now know there is a fine line between motivational goals and goals that scare the fudge out of you and leave you crippled with fear. The tricky thing with the latter scenario however, is that the fear is often lurking in your subconscious, so you don’t necessarily realise it’s there because when it does show up it comes in disguise.

Procrastination is most definitely fear’s disguise of choice, because that in itself can take on so many different forms. For me it could be anything from constantly creating and refining strategies (that never got implemented), to checking my emails and social media pages every 2 minutes, to drinking an excessive amount of tea and coffee (until it reached a point that my doctor told me I must limit my fluid intake as it was effecting my kidneys). Yes that’s right, my Olympian status of procrastination had actually started to impact my health. Actually in more ways than that – because I was stuck in a cycle of striving to achieve my ridiculous goals and holding myself back for fear of not achieving them, I was putting myself under an immense amount of pressure so I was constantly in “fight or flight” mode and my body began to shut down. But as a procrastination-oholic I was addicted and I just couldn’t stop.

Luckily however, my journey to find out what on earth was going on with my body led me to a point where I was able to see my procrastination for what it really was – fear of failure and fear of not being good enough. So once I got to the bottom of where it was coming from, the next challenge was what the hell do I do about it. Luckily I’ve distilled my findings down into 5 easy steps for you:

Understand what your procrastination is masking

As you’ve seen with my story, procrastination is merely a symptom. So in order to truly beat it once and for all it is imperative that you dig deep and discover the cause. Are you, like me, afraid of failure and not being good enough? Or perhaps you’re afraid of success? Maybe your worry is not being liked or maybe you feel inferior to your peers? Whatever it is, know that these are all perfectly normal fears and everyone has them. The difference however between those who get shit done and those who don’t, is the former do not engage with their fears. Instead, they simply acknowledge their existence and allow them to move along without causing any trouble, meaning there is no need to enlist un-resourceful behaviours like procrastination to help keep them safe.

Have confidence in yourself and your abilities

When the going gets tough it can be difficult to have faith in yourself because you’re so bogged down with all the things you have to do and you just don’t know how you’re going to get them all done. This often leads to a spiral of self-doubt and supersized fears, so at these times it is imperative to remind yourself (even have a list saved on your computer that’s easily accessible) of all your achievements and the challenges you have overcome to date. Also make a point of celebrating your wins, big and small, as soon as they happen. All of this serves as a reminder that you are indeed capable and gives you the motivation to keep moving forward rather than getting frozen with fear.

Set Goals

Uncertainty and lack of direction is the perfect way to fire up your fears. If you don’t know where you’re going how can you prioritise and focus your time? And how can you track (and celebrate) your progress? Starting at the end point, your ultimate goal, and working back is recommended. Break it right down until you get to your daily tasks, and then move on to the next step…

Make love not war with your to-do list

Firstly, understand that your to-do list will never end. Secondly, be ok with that. At the end of every day write your tasks for the next day, prioritising them into:
A – Must get done
B – Should get done
C – Would be nice if they got done
D – Get done by someone else
Be disciplined with getting the tasks done in order of A-D, do not allow yourself to move on to a B task until you’ve completed all the A’s. This way you will ensure the most important tasks are done, and thus receive the greatest return on your investment of time. I also recommend being disciplined with crossing the tasks off your list as you do them, in fact even if you do a task that isn’t on your to-do list pop it on and then cross it off immediately. This simple act is like giving yourself a little power-up – it makes you feel good and so you want to do more.

Create structure and routine in your day

This gives you certainty, direction, clarity, motivation and more time. It may include:
– A morning and bedtime routine, with technology limits and time for yourself
– Set working hours
– Little breaks throughout the day to allow you to step back and regain energy, clarity and focus (these may include a short walk around the office or block, a non-work related chat with a colleague, a cheeky meditation or breathing session, or perhaps even chuck your headphones in and rock out to a favourite song)
– A lunch break
– Blocks of time for specific tasks, e.g. 1 hour for accounting, 2 hours for sales calls etc
– Time with loved ones and/or doing something fun

Employ these steps and I guarantee you will take back a massive chunk of your time.

Do you want to take back control of your life for good?

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