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Procrastination: Easy Ways to Kick Its Ass and Be Successful

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Posted By Christine Foley

You want to stop procrastinating, right?  You want to get it out of your life, but don’t really know how? Well- let me help with these easy ways to kick its ass and be successful. 
First things first though: I want you to stop beating yourself up and telling everyone who’s even vaguely interested about what a terrible procrastinator you are. Don’t do that- because that’s just making it into something that’s so massive that you can’t do anything about it.

Procrastination isn’t a fatal flaw

It’s just a  completely natural response to stress. If something scares, intimidates or worries us it’s only natural that we are going to try to do something else. Like root canal surgery: we may know that we need it, but nothing in the world is going to make us feel motivated to do it- except for pain, of course.

Procrastination is just a part of being a human being

The trick is to learn to beat it, when necessary. I say ‘when necessary’ because sometimes it can be pretty harmless; as long as you get the thing you’re trying to dodge done in time. 

But if you want to be successful, and the thing you’re dodging is actually the process of becoming successful, then it really is time to kick ass and resist.

Not everything in life is fun and enjoyable

Tomas Svitorka, in his article: ‘Bad Habits That are Killing Your Self Discipline’ writes:

You’re probably engaging in some bad habits that are weakening your self discipline every day….If you don’t want to end up living a mediocre life you’re going to need self discipline. This will help you to get on and do the things you need to do, even if you don’t want to do it.

Our brains want us to feel good

Svitorka goes on to explain:

Our brains want us to feel good (experience pleasure) as often as possible with the least amount of effort.

This is why we often procrastinate with tasks that are hard to do (physically or intellectually), and we end up doing something that is much easier and feels good, usually right away.

That’s procrastination. Your brain is tricking you into finding to do something that will feel good now.

What to do?

Svitorka advises:

Pay attention to where you’re making quick and easy “feel good” choices. Not just in the form of procrastination.

Turn these guilty pleasures into rewards for doing something that requires willpower and self-discipline. See them as opportunities to strengthen your self-discipline rather than weaken it.

So reward yourself for taking those steps which will help you to become successful.

Great way to help you to keep yourself on track: celebrate the small victories you experience along the way.

What is Procrastination?

Ever heard of the life coach extraordinaire, Mel Robbins? She’s definitely a lady to follow. What she says is:

You’re not a procrastinator- you have a habit of procrastinating….. Believe it or not, procrastination has nothing to do with work. Procrastination is a form of stress relief.”

She goes on to say:

“All habits have three parts: 

1.There’s a trigger: in the case of procrastination it’s always stress

2. There’s a pattern: and in the case of procrastination is always something that you do to avoid something

3 Then there’s a reward: in the case of procrastination it’s a little relief from the stress.

The only way to avoid procrastination is to acknowledge the triggers

You need to know when you are spending way too much time on avoiding the work:

Become aware of what you’re doing and acknowledge the fact that you must be feeling stressed over something.”

Awareness is crucial to your success when fighting procrastination

Crucial to your success is the recognition of when you are in procrastination mode so that you can do something about it. Mel recommends a way of interrupting the habit by giving yourself a quick countdown from five to one, and then just getting on with the work- for five minutes.

Do Five Minutes Work

Why only five minutes? She says:

Only for five minutes because your problem isn’t the working, it’s the process of avoiding.

It’s all about getting you to just start- Mel Robbins says that from research it’s been discovered that when people start 80% of them will keep going.

What do you think about that?

 I think she’s absolutely right: five minutes sounds OK, if you’re really stressed out about something, and in reality you would rarely sit down and work for only five minutes, would you? Give it a go!

How do you eat a big chocolate elephant?

Nick Hatter, the successful London-based life coach  advises in his article: How to Kill Procrastination:

Breakdown big goal into easily achievable smaller goals. How do you eat a big chocolate elephant? Break it down into bite-sized pieces. The same goes for your goals. Doing this will prevent you from becoming overwhelmed.

Work towards your goal in small digestible chunks- every day

Otherwise your goal remains scary and massive: increasingly likely to lead to procrastination. However, if you remind yourself that if you chip away at it a bit each day, then each day you start off at a slightly higher place to where you were the previous one.

As Robin Sharma says:

Small daily improvements over time lead to stunning results.

I love that!

Have you found yourself an accountability partner?

This is a great way to avoid the pains of procrastination because no one wants to look like a lazy toad in the face of others- (especially if your accountability partner works really hard…. Or is a bit scary- like Miss Trunchbull, for example…)

Keep you on track

The most important part of the role of the accountability partner is to keep you on track and make sure that you don’t faff about too much. The most successful of these relationships are often reciprocal: where both partners are working towards a goal and use each other to keep themselves going forward by reaching small, daily goals.

The best accountability partners:
  •  Have a clear understanding of the desired goals
  • Know the small tasks which need to be undertaken to reach those goals
  • Listen attentively and intuitively
  • Meet regularly

An accountability partnership can be a very successful tool for both parties in the bitter war against procrastination- if one partner is procrastinating, then it is very important for the other to pull them up by their bootstraps and get them going again.

Stop Trying to be Perfect

Ilene Strauss Cohen, writing in ‘Psychology Today‘ says:

Perfectionism lives and breathes in your fear of making a mistake. When you’re afraid of what might happen, you don’t always make the best possible choices.

Instead, you limit your options because you believe you’ll be unable to handle the outcome of your choices if they happen to be negative. Allowing perfectionism to run the show is like being on a hamster wheel; you just keep going and going and going, even after you’ve reached your original goal. You increase the stakes every time so that when you do accomplish something, you wonder if you could have done it better.”

So don’t do that to yourself

Perfection is unobtainable and the very fuel of procrastination: why even try when you know deep inside that you can never succeed? Be kind to yourself- produce your best and publish it…just get among it, as my teenage son would say!

In summary:
If you want to kick procrastination and be successful:

Recognise when you’re choosing ‘easy’ tasks over the difficult ones and wade in to change this behaviour by:

  • Acknowledging the triggers to procrastination and taking action
  • Rewarding yourself when you choose the more difficult but productive tasks
  • Try the Mel Robbins technique of the 5-1 countdown and promise yourself that you’ll work for 5 minutes, as you’re more likely to work for much longer than that
  • Break down big goals into small, daily digestible chunks so that you’re much more likely to succeed and therefore progress
  • Find an accountability partner and communicate with them regularly
  • Stop trying to be perfect- concentrate on being out there instead.

Best of luck! I hope you found this article useful. If you’d like an accountability partner- let me know, and let’s see if we are a good fit.

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