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Overcome Procrastination Once and For All

Overcome Procrastination Once and For All
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Why We Procrastinate

Before we can solve the problem of procrastination we must understand why we do it. There are a few basic reasons:

  1. Feeling overwhelmed with a situation.
  2. Given up hope that a situation can be changed or affected.
  3. Afraid of failing.
  4. Too “Busy” to get the really important things done.
  5. Can’t make a decision.
  6. Overworked, tired.
  7. Want to avoid work you don’t like.

Each of these can be reduced down to the pleasure/pain principle which says that we do things to gain pleasure and to avoid pain. What follows is a method to overcome procrastination on the things that matter and to jettison excess baggage in your to-do list that only serves to weigh you down.

Method to Overcome Procrastination

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1. Get clear about what you want in life. Procrastinators, you’ll love this! Take 20-30 minutes to do this quick goal planning exercise. Write down all your goals in some or all of these categories: career, education, relationships, financial, physical, mindset, creative, spiritual, public service, travel, leisure, and other. Once you have your list, then whittle it down to your top 10, then down to your top 5, and then your top 3. Do this by asking yourself, “Can I live without this?” Let your less important goals lie dormant on a “maybe” list that you can check on again in a few months.

2. Delete or delegate from your To-Do List those things that don’t relate to your top 3-5 goals. Just say bye bye. And don’t look back!

3. Link tasks you don’t like to your goals. It helps to mentally (and in writing) tie these tasks to one of your main goals or values. So for example, “Keeping a tidy and clean home and desk allows me to have clarity of mind which is something I highly value. By having clarity of mind I will be better able to work on my goals and have less anxiety.” By linking the task to the pleasure of being able to think clearly, I now have a reason that will motivate me to take action.

4. Plan your day each day. This is not a big task. It should only take about 10-15 minutes of quiet time. Do the most difficult and most important things first and work your way down to the easier stuff in the afternoon. You’ll feel really good if you do this. Focus on that to motivate you to wait to check email and such until after you’ve finished your first big task.

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5. Plan your week just enough to loosely schedule in some of the big things you know you want to get done. Sometimes procrastination happens simply because a task is not scheduled.

6. Allow for cheats and get rest when you’re tired or have low motivation. Don’t be so hard on yourself about the timing of a task and then you won’t try to escape through procrastination so hard in the future. Just reschedule and get back on track later or tomorrow. Also, remember to check if the task relates to one of your goals. See #1,2, and 3 again!

7. Just do it, but don’t over do it. We often put pressure on ourselves to do certain tasks more often than we really need to, such as cleaning/tidying/laundry etc. So give yourself a break and set a schedule for these things that is not overwhelming. Do thing on a “Need to do” basis and let go of the notion that you need to keep up with some perfect schedule. Ever hear of the business concept “just in time” inventory, well this is “just in time” task management.

8. Break down big tasks into smaller components. We procrastinate on tasks that are vague and nebulous because we don’t have clear instructions what to do next. Take a few moments to think about how to break down a larger task and schedule it into your calendar in pieces. This is good for when you are feeling overwhelmed.

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9. Get help making decisions. Decisions are tough for me. I like to use the pro/con method and assign points. I also recommend getting help from a friend that you know is good with making decisions. Once you’ve made your decision then break it down into tasks and schedule into your calendar.

10. Believe in yourself and in your ability to accomplish anything you want. If you’ve lost hope, know that you can turn things around. Release the fear of failure. Failure is just a learning experience. Slow and steady wins the race. A little bit done every day adds up to a lot over a year. If you have to, just fake your belief until it becomes real. Remember, you can do it!

11. Trick & Treat Yourself. Do you keep avoiding cleaning up your desk or some other big task, even though you know will make you feel good to get it done? If so, do this: invite a friend or family member over for a date to “tackle the dreaded task.” All your friend has to do is sit in the room with you and make sure that you do the task. If you want you can let them help you, but it’s not necessary. After the task is done, you can treat you and your friend to either coffee, dessert, meal, movie, whatever!

Recap:

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  • Know your most important goals and values.
  • Only do tasks that contribute to those goals and values.
  • Mentally link tasks to the pleasurable outcomes you seek.
  • Plan your day & week.
  • Do, but don’t overdo. Rest when needed.
  • Break down big tasks.
  • Get help making decisions.
  • Believe in yourself!
  • Trick & Treat!

What’s your best trick for overcoming procrastination?

K. Stone is author of Life Learning Today, a blog about daily life improvements. A few of her most popular articles are Ultimate Goal Setting Guide, Wrestling with Your Goals?, How to Write a Book in 60 Days or Less, Decision Making Made Easy, and Cool GTD Applications – The Ultimate Resource List.

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How to Motivate Yourself: 13 Simple Ways You Can Try Right Now

How to Motivate Yourself: 13 Simple Ways You Can Try Right Now

Who needs Tony Robbins when you can motivate yourself? Overcoming the emotional hurdle to get stuff done when you’d rather sit on the couch isn’t always easy. Bu unless calling in sick and waking up at noon have no consequences for you, it’s often a must.

For those of you who never procrastinate, distract yourself or drag your feet when you should be doing something important, well done so far! But for the rest of you, it’s good to have a library of motivational boosters to move along.

Stay motivated even without motivation tricks

The best way to motivate yourself is to organize your life so you don’t have to. If work is a constant battle for you, perhaps it is time to start thinking about a new job. The idea is that explicit motivational techniques should be a backup, not your regular routine.

Here are some other things to consider making work flow more naturally:

  • Passion – Do things you have a passion for. We all have to do things we don’t want to. But if life has become a chronic source of dull chores, you’ve got a big problem that needs fixing.
  • Habits – You can’t put everything on autopilot. I’ve found putting a few core habits in place creates a structure for the day. Waking up at the same time, working at the same times and having a similar productive routine makes it easier to do the next day.
  • Flow – Flow is the state where your mind is completely focused on the task at hand. While there are many factors that go into producing this state, having the right challenge level is a big part. Find ways to tweak your tasks so they hover in that sweet spot between boredom and maddening frustration.

13 Simple ways to motivate yourself

Despite your best efforts, passion, habits and a flow-producing environment can fail. In that case, it’s time to find whatever emotional pump-up you can use to get started:

1. Go back to “why”

Focusing on a dull task doesn’t make it any more attractive. Zooming out and asking yourself why you are bothering in the first place will make it more appealing.

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If you can’t figure out why, then there’s a good chance you shouldn’t bother with it in the first place.

2. Go for five

Start working for five minutes. Often that little push will be enough to get you going.

3. Move around

Get your body moving as you would if you were extremely motivated to do something. This ‘faking it’ approach to motivation may seem silly or crude but it works.

4. Find the next step

If it seems impossible to work on a project for you, you can try to focus on the next immediate step.

Fighting an amorphous blob of work will only cause procrastination. Chunk it up so that it becomes manageable.

5. Find your itch

What is keeping you from working? Don’t let the itch continue without isolating it and removing the problem.

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Are you unmotivated because you’re tired, afraid, bored, restless or angry? Maybe it is because you aren’t sure you have time or delegated tasks haven’t been finished yet?

6. Deconstruct your fears

I’m sure you don’t have a phobia about getting stuff done. But at the same time, hidden fears or anxieties can keep you from getting real work completed.

Isolate the unknowns and make yourself confident, you can handle the worst case scenario.

7. Get a partner

Find someone who will motivate you when you’re feeling lazy. I have a friend I go to the gym with. Besides spotting weight, having a friend can help motivate you to work hard when you’d normally quit.

8. Kickstart your day

Plan out tomorrow. Get up early and place all the important things early in the morning. Building momentum early in the day can usually carry you forward far later.

Having a morning routine is a good idea for you to stay motivated!

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9. Read books

Read not just self-help or motivational books but any book that has new ideas. New ideas get your mental gears turning and can build motivation. Here’re more reasons to read every day.

Learning new ideas puts your brain in motion so it requires less time to speed up to your tasks.

10. Get the right tools

Your environment can have a profound effect on your enthusiasm. Computers that are too slow, inefficient applications or a vehicle that breaks down constantly can kill your motivation.

Building motivation is almost as important as avoiding the traps that can stop it.

11. Be careful with the small problems

The worst killer of motivation is facing a seemingly small problem that creates endless frustration.

Reframe little problems that must be fixed as bigger ones or they will kill any drive you have.

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12. Develop a mantra

Find a few statements that focus your mind and motivate you. It doesn’t matter whether they are pulled from a tacky motivational poster or just a few words to tell you what to do.

If you aren’t sure where to start, a good personal mantra is “Do it now!” You can find more here too: 7 Empowering Affirmations That Will Help You Be Mentally Strong

13. Build on Success

Success creates success. When you’ve just won, it is easy to feel motivated about almost anything. Emotions tend not to be situation specific, so a small win, whether it is a compliment from a colleague or finishing two thirds of your tasks before noon can turn you into a juggernaut.

There are many ways you can place small successes earlier on to spur motivation later. Structuring your to-do lists, placing straightforward tasks such as exercising early in the day or giving yourself an affirmation can do the trick.

With all these tips I’ve shared with you, now you know what to do when you’re feeling unmotivated. Find your passion and develop a positive mantra so when the next time negativity hits you again, you know how to stay positive and motivated!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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