3 proven strategies to overcome procrastination
I find that most creative entrepreneurs struggle with procrastination, me included. There are many reasons but also some proven cures. Here are 3 proven strategies for overcoming procrastination.
The first one is the most challenging but also the most valuable. I have been on a Brené Brown kick this week, listening to her audio series “The Power of Vulnerability.” She is one of my heroes. And in listening to her, I recognize how shame and guilt play a role in how we feel about procrastination.
I am looking at my list of tasks and noticing which ones I am procrastinating on and why… reflecting on why I realize that there is some fear around some of them. Just noticing this helps me to move through the fear and take action.
Were you always getting fussed at as a child for procrastination? This can cause you to dig your heels in even more. Procrastination can also be a type of avoidance behavior, where those who feel habitually feel powerless take back personal power in the only way known to them—procrastination on tasks they are ordered to do.
Along with avoidance-based procrastination unfortunately goes its offshoots—guilt and shame. We hear the voices of those authority figures telling us that we “blew it again”, “can’t be depended on”; even all-or-nothing statements like “you’re a complete failure” (usually accompanied by comparisons to a perfect sibling or neighborhood example)—long after we’ve grown up and supposedly left all childhood voices behind.
Guilt and shame have no place in working on becoming the person we were born to be. One good dose of shaming (especially from yourself) and you’re likely to revert to the one defense you’ve truly mastered—the mental equivalent of curling up in a fetal ball in a darkened room—procrastinate.
Learn to banish guilt by using cognitive reframing. Replace those excoriating self-lashes with phrases based in reality. For example, instead of saying to yourself, “I did it again. I’m a complete screw-up!” try stating just the facts. (“I spent an hour of `me’ time. Now it’s time to put that aside and go to work.”)
It feels much better when you take the blame-and-shame out of your procrastination habits, and focus on realistic solutions.
I tried this today when I found myself wasting time on social media. I just noticed what I was doing, “Huh, wonder what I am avoiding?” I asked myself. And then refocused and returned to work. This is a practice that can be challenging at first but gets easier with time.
Use Parkinson’s Law
Cyril Northcote Parkinson was a British author who once worked for the civil service. He famously came up with the maxim: “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion”—meaning that if we allow a week for a task that should take one day, being human, we will automatically make that task more complex (or waste more time), so that it really does take a full week to complete it.
So keeping that law in mind, Lifehack.org suggests you do the reverse. List your daily or weekly tasks; then cut the time estimated in half. Chances are, you will find yourself unable to procrastinate because you will be more focused on completing each task.
The result? You’ll end up with free time at the end of the work week—when you can properly enjoy it, guilt-free!
What is one project you are working on currently that you could practice using Parkinson’s Law on?
Ask Yourself What’s Really Going On
You can’t change a habit until you understand it. Next time you find yourself procrastinating, stop the procrastination activity you’re doing, get up from your seat and ask yourself: “What is really going on here?”
Try to figure out if you’re simply daunted by the thought of starting a task you find difficult, or you simply hate that particular task, or you’re angry because you have to work late—or whatever is really behind the procrastination.
Getting in touch with your real feelings can tip you off to finding the right solution to that particular procrastination session: For example, if you absolutely hate setting up email series, plan to outsource this activity in the future.
The urge to procrastinate can never totally be eliminated—it does serve a purpose. It’s usually a sign something isn’t right with us. But know what that purpose or reason is, when you procrastinate: And know that it’s your right to develop effective strategies to totally bust it, every time.
Share your favorite procrastination strategies in the comments below!
Join me Thursday, February 23 at 3pm PST for a Facebook Live chat on www.Facebook.com/coachminette at 3pm PST.
I will be painting and sharing some of my favorite tips on creating more uninterrupted creative time in your business.