Procrastination is the opposite of living or feeling liberated. In fact, procrastination feels terrible and serves only as a way to beat ourselves up! So why do people procrastinate? Is it laziness? Lack of willpower or drive? Forgetfulness maybe?
If you procrastinate often, you’ve likely heard every kind of criticism there is, from laziness to low motivation. You may even feel like procrastination is a moral crime. Yet, laziness, low motivation, lack of willpower or even desire are rarely at the root of procrastination. Unfortunately, procrastination is widely misunderstood, BUT also easy to handle when you have the right tools.
There are 4 causes of procrastination: Disinterest, Time Stealers, Fear and ADD. Let’s break it down…
1) Disinterest. We don't do what we don't want to do.
Grab a seat, as the following statement will come as a complete shock! WE DON’T DO WHAT WE DON’T WANT TO DO! Ha! Big surprise right? We naturally procrastinate with that which we don’t enjoy, don’t want to do, or aren’t proficient with.
There are people who are naturally better than others at starting and completing low-interest tasks. In any job or home life for example, there exists tasks we don’t want to, yet they are ‘part of the gig’.
But, you can keep low-interest tasks to an absolute minimum. Otherwise, your overall level of inspiration and drive will decline rapidly. More than 80% of our time can and should be spent doing what makes our heart sing!
Hire out, eliminate or delegate 80-90% of all tasks that lead you to procrastinate. Keep only the few tasks that you and only you can be responsible for.
You might have to loosen the reigns on your ‘inner control freak’, but life will become lighter and more liberated as you align your life with more joy-filled and inspiring tasks and release the rest! There are inexpensive resources for getting your dreaded, but important tasks complete. For example, you could hire a college student who needs a few extra bucks to handle various items, or you can hire a great virtual assistant a few hours each week.
The best way to tackle the loathsome procrastination tasks only you can handle is to schedule time and do them as soon as you roll out of bed or get to work - No email, Facebook or texting until they are complete! Do nothing else until what you don’t want to do is done. This practice will become an energy boost (instead of an energy drain), mental and emotional relief, and a fantastic leadership initiative (at home and at work)!
2) Time Stealers. What’s your go to drug of choice for escaping or distraction?
Confession time… what’s your go to drug of choice for escaping or distraction? Facebook? IG? Email? Online shopping? Whatever your drug(s) of choice are, it’s time to come clean! These time stealers are a fantastic way to avoid doing what you don’t want to do.
Pull out a sheet of paper and jot down your top 5 Time Stealers.
Now, create systems remove each problem. Systems ensure consistent implementation and accountability.
It may sound kind of boring to systematize the vast majority of your life, but fabulous ideas or intentions are mere concepts, fleeting efforts or whims. Rarely do we think about success in terms of words like implementation or accountability. Rather we think about success in terms of money, growth, love, and happiness, these are results of successful practices, habits and systems.
The thing is, success systems are the vehicle, the mechanism that enables the outcomes we desire. Here are a couple examples:
Turn your phone off for all but 2, 15-30 time blocks each day to make or return calls.
Remove your email icon from your desktop. This will make it difficult to get to it so you’re not easily tempted.
Use a website blocker software so FB, (or other tempting sites) cannot be accessed from your laptop or work computer. Or you can block certain sites for certain hours each day.
Disable text and email visibility and sound to avoid phone-related ADD!
Have staff make appointments to see you. No open door policy, it is distracting and demonstrates poor leadership in the realm of focus.
I literally spend 1-4 weeks with business owners and executives eliminating and systematizing time stealers when we begin coaching together! Time stealers are a challenge for everyone and must be addressed as they EASILY steal 2-6 hours from YOU and YOUR staff EVERY SINGLE DAY. Yuck!
3) Fear. Fear of the unknown, of failing, of rejection, of disapproval, or even of success at times.
People procrastinate when they are stuck in fear. Fear of the unknown, of failing, of rejection, of incompetence, of disapproval, or even of success at times. Fear is a mega stumbling block to taking action or completing tasks and projects.
What a total drag, right? We let insecurity direct life far too often. It would be quite easy to tell you to, “suck it up and push through that fear!” If it were only that simple, we’d all be rid of procrastination by now.
I suggest a two-prong approach to blasting fear-based procrastination! First, get specific about the fears that block you. Often, just naming a fear will allow the green-eyed monster to shrink enough to move forward. What seemed like a mountain, was actually just an ant hill disguised by ambiguity. It’s the AMBIGUITY or lack of clarity that stops us every time.
Secondly, think in terms of “ONE next step”. The key to busting fear-based procrastination is to simplify. If you need to get your oil changed, the only thing you can do FIRST is locate a place to have your oil changed. Once complete, there is still only ONE next step– call to set an appointment, the next ONE step is to drive there, and so on. ALL goals are a continuation of “ONE next step”.
When we’re already afraid or overwhelmed in any way, looking at the big picture can feel paralyzing. Keep it simple to make it big! Invest yourself into just ONE next step at a time.
ADD is sneaky. I personally don’t care about the ‘diagnosis’ of ADD. In my coaching, we look more at behaviors or collections of behaviors that block success. A large number of business owners and high performers exhibit behaviors that mimic ADD - and procrastination is at or near the top of the list!
If you suspect ADD in your life, DON’T get upset. It’s seriously no biggie and a TOTAL benefit in many ways.
If you suspect ADD, I suggest talking with a coach who has a great deal of experience with ADDers as a jumping off point. You can also seek a traditional diagnosis. A great ADD coach will be able to give you dozens of tools to shore up habits, behaviors and challenges, (whether they are ADD related or not!) AND, help you capitalize on the gold mine that ADD is as well.
Ridding your life of procrastination won’t be easy. I know that. But these tips are designed to help you get started down that path. Interested in gaining support along your journey? Be sure to check out my upcoming 6-week Freedom From Chaos Telecourse!
The Freedom From Chaos course is a 6-week telecourse designed to help you find freedom from your chaotic life. The course will teach you to find clarity in your hectic life, remove the roadblocks to progress and truly commit to liberated living through structured course content and weekly calls with me, your coach! Interested in learning more?
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Dr. Haywood believes in limitless possibility and cultivation of expanding human potential with each extraordinary client, group and team experience. While at the same time, stripping away confusion, obscurity, and obstacles in order to arrive at powerful and useful direction and solutions.
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