You hear it said all the time. The habit of not taking action when it matters most is the number one enemy of personal progress.
There is even an old saying to that effect.
Procrastination is a thief of time.
It is, therefore, not helpful to postpone an action that needs to be taken immediately. But most of us procrastinate all the same.
To be sincere with you, I personally am guilty of the habit of procrastination.
Funnily, however, many are the people who still wish they could avoid procrastination.
Are you one of those who are looking for ways to avoid procrastination?
Then you have come to the right place. In this post, I have lined up for you five of the most effective techniques that can help anyone to put the habit of procrastination behind them.
I have personally been using these techniques with considerable success. This is the reason I know they can work for you too.
So let me quickly give you my tips for overcoming the spirit of not taking immediate action at the right time.
1. Establish your why.
Establishing your why is a big motivator to fire you up to do it now.
Knowing why it is necessary for you to take an action, no matter the initial discomfort it may cause you, can help you avoid putting it off.
The next time you are tempted to procrastinate, ask yourself what benefits you stand to lose if you do so.
Put the other way round, the mere awareness of the benefits that will come your way if you take action there and then should be enough to motivate you to act immediately.
2. Change your thinking.
Start with a positive mindset.
One reason we fall into the habit of procrastination is this. We tend to focus our minds more on the negative aspects of that action.
Here are some of those negative thoughts.
- This weather is too hot or too cold for me to do anything worthwhile.
- People will laugh at me if I don’t get it right.
- I am not the only one who will benefit anyway. I can wait and do it another time.
- I don’t have enough resources to begin with.
- This pain in my back won’t allow me to stand at all. Let me go and lie down a little.
- Others have not done theirs yet; no need to be in a hurry.
- Rome was not built in a day, so the saying goes.
- And so on and so forth.
Thus, it is easy for you and me to just give excuses and leave an otherwise important task for another day.
The best way to fight these ambition-killer excuses is to change your negative mindset to a positive one.
Tell yourself, you have what it takes to finish it. That you are worthy. Ignore the naysayers. Focus on the ultimate reward you stand to gain.
Let me tell you something. When you dwell on the positive aspects of a task, it becomes easier to act on it quickly, no matter the obstacles you may have to deal with.
3. Lower the bar.
In other words, eat your elephant in tiny bits.
The fear of getting overwhelmed by undertaking an enormous task can cripple you into inaction. But when you break a big goal down into smaller achievable milestones, it becomes easier to begin.
So the next time you feel intimidated by a particular task, just lower the bar a little. Tackle it one target at a time. Then you will enjoy the process. And then, you will be amazed at your own results.
4. Plan ahead.
Another effective way to avoid procrastination is to have an action plan. Do it on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis.
As you read this post right now, I urge you to do something important for me. Write down the specific steps you need to take the next day, week or month to perform that task which you have been postponing all this while.
I usually do it as a checklist.
So, before the appointed time comes, I already know what to do. The magic of this approach is that it makes you waste no more time on deciding what and what not to do.
You simply take your checklist, identify what action is next, and jump straight onto it. The truth is that you will do so without thinking.
5. Get a reward system for yourself.
I mean plan to reward yourself handsomely when it is all over.
It has been proven that when we are expecting a pleasant experience to follow a certain activity on our part, we tend to tackle that activity with greater energy and a bigger sense of purpose.
Here, I have some suggestions for you. Plan to give yourself any one or two of the following upon your successful completion of the task.
- going out with friends to have fun
- a me-time for you alone or with your family – it could be at the beach, in a park or wherever
- a sumptuous meal you enjoy but hardly have the chance to treat yourself to
- a good massage
It does not really matter what it is. Just plan to give yourself a real treat with something you absolutely enjoy.
And when the task is completed, make good on your promise to yourself.
Go get it. Have all the fun in the world according to your budget and all. The good feeling you get out of this will make you desire to do even more when the time comes.
Granted, it is not as easy as it sounds to avoid procrastination with the above tips. But the fact that others are using these to take action on their personal projects when it matters most means that you too can do it.
Like I told you early on, I personally have been able to control my habit of procrastination with some of the above techniques. This is why I believe they can work for you too!
So tell me. How successful have you been in dealing with procrastination in your life. Please share your thoughts in a comment below.