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Overcoming Procrastination by Letting Go of Perfectionism

Overcoming Procrastination by Letting Go of Perfectionism

I bought a book on procrastination, but I never got around to reading it.

My name is Lori and I am a procrastinator. I even put off writing this article, but why? Why do we procrastinate?

Recently, I wanted to start making new videos for my Youtube channel, but I didn’t do it. Instead, I just thought of all the reasons I wasn’t ready. I needed to lose a few pounds; I would look better on camera if I was thinner. The camera adds ten pounds, doesn’t it? Then I thought I should wait until I got my hair cut so I would look more professional. Next, I started thinking maybe I shouldn’t put myself on Youtube at all. I should just hire a professional actress. It finally occurred to me that I was waiting to be perfect.

Perfectionism was causing my procrastination. The only way I would ever make my video was to let go of perfectionism. I was watching a marketing video by a social media influencer. He had quirky features, geeky glasses and was bald, but he had over 90,000 hits on his video. It was his words and wisdom that inspired me to watch. Once I started listening to him, all his flaws disappeared. He has confidence and exudes authority.

I was emailed another video by the author of a best-selling book. I watched his video and saw that he was extremely overweight. People pay a lot of money to watch his video webinars and take his classes.

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I had my “ah hah” moment, as Oprah would say. The difference between other people who were making money through videos and myself was that I was waiting to be perfect. The truth is that nobody’s perfect. All I was doing by waiting around and pondering over when it would be the right time for me to create a video class was procrastinating. I was sabotaging myself by not letting go of perfectionism and just frigging doing it. Isn’t that Nike’s slogan?

When you find yourself procrastinating, here are some questions you should ask yourself about why you are putting off the task.

Write down your answers to these questions.

1. Why am I putting off this task?

2. What is stopping me from completing it?

3. What am I waiting for?

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4. Am I hurting myself by procrastinating?

5. What is procrastinating costing me?

6. Am I losing valuable time while waiting for perfection?

7. Am I losing money by trying to be perfect?

8. What is procrastinating costing me?

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9. Is not finishing this project causing me anxiety?

Now, take a moment to imagine that the project you are putting off is finished and ask yourself how you feel. Do you anticipate feelings of relief and unburdening yourself?

Now just frigging do it!

Don’t stop until you’re done.

When you complete a task that you’ve been procrastinating about give yourself credit and be proud. Overcoming the hurdle of procrastination will cause you to feel more relaxed, and have less anxiety.

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You may think you are saving yourself from stress by putting off jobs that you need to get done, but you are actually exerting a lot more energy worrying about it.

One more tip in overcoming procrastination is to break your day into small blocks of time. If you have a half hour between appointments, see if you can get 30 minutes of a particular task taken care of instead of mindlessly surfing your smartphone or playing a video game.

Once you let go of the perception that you have to be perfect, you can overcome your procrastinating and lead a more successful life.

Featured photo credit: Drowning under a mountain of paper / flickr user net_efekt via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 31, 2020

How To Break the Procrastination Cycle

How To Break the Procrastination Cycle

How often do you find yourself procrastinating? Do you wish you could procrastinate less? We all know how debilitating procrastination can make us feel, and it seems to be a challenge we all share. Procrastination is one of the biggest hindrances to moving forward and doing the things that we want to in life.

There are many reasons why you might be procrastinating, and sometimes, it is really difficult to pinpoint why. You might be procrastinating because of something related to the past, present, or future (they are all intertwined), or it could be as simple as biological factors. Whatever the reason, most of us follow a cycle when we procrastinate, from the moment we decide to do something to actually getting it done, or in this case, not getting it done.

The Vicious Procrastination Cycle

For some reason, it helps to understand that we all go through the same thing, even though we often feel like the only person in the world who struggles with this. Do you resonate with the cycle below?

1. Feeling Eager and Energized

This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it!

2. Apprehension Starts to Come Up

The beginning stages of optimism are starting to fade. There is still time, but you haven’t done anything yet, and you start to feel uneasy. You realize that you actually have to do something to get it done, and that good intentions are not enough.

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3. Still No Action

More time has passed. You still haven’t taken any action and probably have a lot of excuses why. You start to panic a little and wish you had started sooner. Your panic starts to turn into frustration and perhaps even irritability.

4. Flicker of Hope Left

You can still make it; there is a little time left and you ponder how you are going to get it done. The rush you get from leaving your task until the last minute gives you a flicker of hope. There is still time; you can do this!

5. Fading Quickly

Your hope starts to quickly fade as you try desperately to understand why you just can’t do this. You may feel desperate and have thoughts like, “What is wrong with me?” and “Why do I ALWAYS do this?” You feel discouraged, or perhaps angry and resentful at yourself.

6. Vow to Yourself

Once the feeling of anger or disappointment disappears, you most likely swear to yourself that this will never happen again; that this was the last time and next time will be different.

Does this sound like you? Is the next time different? I understand the devastating effect that procrastination has on many lives, and for some, it is a really serious problem. You also have, on the other hand, those who procrastinate but it doesn’t affect them in any way. You know whether it is affecting you or not and whether it undermines your results.

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How to Break the Procrastination Cycle

Unless you break the cycle, you will keep reinforcing it!

To break the cycle, you need to change the sequence of events. Here is my suggestion on how you can effectively break the vicious cycle you are in!

1. Feeling Eager and Energized

This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it! The first stage is always the same.

2. Plan

Thinking alone will not help; you need to plan your actions. I always put my deadlines one or two days in advance because you know Murphy’s Law! Take into consideration everything that you need to do, how long it will take you, and what you will need to get it done, then plan the individual steps.

3. Resistance

Just because you planned doesn’t mean that this time is guaranteed to be different. You will most likely still feel the resistance so expect this. This stage is key to identifying why you are procrastinating, so when you feel the resistance, try to identify it immediately.

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What is causing you to hesitate in this moment? What do you feel?  Write them down if it helps.

4. Confront Those Feelings

Once you have identified what could possibly be holding you back, for example, fear of failure, lack of motivation, etc. You need to work on lessening the resistance.

Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to move forward? What would make it easier?” If you find that you fear something, overcoming that fear is not something that will happen overnight — keep this in mind.

5. Put Results Before Comfort

You need to keep moving forward and put results before comfort. Take action, even if it is only for 10 minutes. The key is to break the cycle and not reinforce it. You have more control that you think.

6. Repeat

Repeat steps 3-5 until you achieve what you first set out to do.

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Final Thoughts

Change doesn’t happen overnight, and if you have some deeper underlying reasons why you procrastinate, it may take longer to finally break the cycle.

If procrastination is holding you back in life, it is better to deal with it now than to deal with the negative consequences later on. It is not a question of comfort anymore; it is a question of results. What is more important to you?

Learn more about how to stop procrastinating here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

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