Beating procrastination

4th October 2019

Barbara Gunter

We all do it at some stage, to a greater or lesser extent. Instead of tackling that important thing on our list, we scroll through our Facebook feed, clean the house, wash the dishes, have a nap, and before you know it, another day has gone by without tackling That Thing. Having not started the task, it sits in the back of your mind, haunting you.

There is so much advice out there to support us, and yet so many of us still struggle to get into the flow, even when we know we will feel better for getting them done (and when we have got them done, we often think "why was that so hard?")

So how do we beat the procrastination habit? Here are a few helpful hints to help you get started:

1. Check your list for likely procrastination candidates.

Identify in advance a topic on your to do list that would traditionally be something you would procrastinate on.

2. Have a look at the fears behind the delay.

Have a think about WHY you are procrastinating on this particular task. What exactly is behind the hesitation to start? Is it the fear of failure? The fear of success? The fear that you don’t know what you are doing? Are you worried about dealing with a particular person? Take a look at the story you tell yourself for clues about why you might be struggling (watch this space for a forthcoming article on how to identify and change your story!)

3.Talk through the reason you have identified with someone you trust.

How true is the story you are telling yourself about this task? Is your projection about what will happen accurate, or could there be another way to look at it? Make a list of reasons to argue against yourself when your old story crops up. If you want to go deeper with this, it might be a good idea to get yourself a coach. 

4. List out a few, small, practical steps you can take to get started on the task.

Can anyone help you? Do you have people in your network who can support with advice or practical help?

5. Ask someone to keep you accountable.

Give yourself a realistic deadline (not too long or too short!), and ask someone to keep you accountable for that deadline. Describe the task, what you need to do, be open about your fears about starting that thing, tell them when you are going to start it and what you are going to do, and text them when you have completed it. Public commitments have been proven in countless experiments to help the completion rate of goals.

6. If you still put it off - talk it through with someone.

If you don’t end up doing that thing on your list, talk through your thoughts and feeling about that task with someone you really trust to be supportive and positive.

7. BE KIND TO YOURSELF

You aren’t lazy, you aren’t fundamentally a terrible person, you aren’t too stupid to do this, you definitely can get started, you can get help and you are capable of finishing. Being unkind to yourself won't help you to get it done. The fact is that we are all incredibly powerful beings, and we really can do anything we put our minds to. That includes you. 

You probably already know a lot of this in theory. The key to success is to actually do it – and that’s where having someone to keep you accountable comes in.

If you think you would benefit from having an accountability partner, consider signing up to The Accountability Network. It's an inexpensive way to keep you on track. Once you have evidence that you are capable of more than you ever thought possible, it's amazing what that will do for your confidence.

You can find more information about the Accountability Network here.

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