So I’ve cleaned the kitchen, vacuumed the floors, made the beds, had two cups of coffee and cleaned the bench tops. I even cleaned the drains in every sink in the house. I’ve scrolled through Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and even LinkedIn. I’ve tidied up my files on my desk and set out all the resources I need to get started. I’ve listened to two podcasts to get in the right head space and I’ve already wasted 2 hours. Procrastination shows up for everyone differently. I know I should be working on my next blog posts. I know I should start making a plan for my next workshops and be creating content for my online programs but something is stopping me.
I check my emails again – nothing new. I delete my junk mail folder, I rearrange the apps on my phone and delete the ones I haven’t used in a while. And still I can’t find the motivation to get started.
I know I should get started but I keep getting distracted by other non important things that take my attention away from my tasks.
So i stop and tell myself -OK Enough – get started. So I go through my resources and figure out what to focus on first.
Then my phone chimes. A message from a friend, I better reply now or I’ll forget about it later.
20 minutes later, I’ve filled up my water, been to the bathroom, got my laptop open, and am changing content on my website.
Still no closer to getting started. I think, maybe it’s because I don’t have a deadline? I work well under pressure when I “have to” get shit done. Arrh. Well that’s not going to help me now either.
So what is procrastination? I google the meaning:
Procrastination; It is the practice of doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, or carrying out less urgent tasks instead of more urgent ones, thus putting off impending tasks to a later time. Sometimes,procrastination takes place until the “last minute” before a deadline.
Well, great. Thanks Google. Now I’m procrastinating about procrastinating. The struggle is real.
We all have times where we allow procrastination to distract us from achieving our goals. A lot of my clients have this problem, so I want to share with you, lessons I have learnt and what I go through with them to keep them moving forward on their goals.
Find one that works for you in the moment and move yourself past or through procrastination and resistance.
So here are my top 5 – tried and tested methods for moving past procrastination.
- Turn off distractions – Seriously. Easier said than done. When I have a large number of tasks to complete I will set myself up for an hour of power. I set a timer, turn off the phone, TV etc, and any other distractions that may hold me back from smashing out all the things on my list.
- Boost your Dopamine Levels. When you find yourself falling into *unconscious patterns of procrastination you need to do something to bring yourself back to your conscious brain where you can think more deliberately. How do we do that you ask? Boost your dopamine levels in your brain. This can quite easily be done by exercise. Interrupt that pattern and take yourself for a walk, do star jumps, push ups, have some caffeine, chocolate etc. These are all great ways to increase your dopamine levels. Dopamine in the brain is used every time we make a decision, so automate* your mornings before you know you have to complete big tasks so you have access to more dopamine to work on things that are more important. Also keep up your water intake. As you are learning something new or thinking really hard, your brain starts to heat up, so keeping your brain/body hydrated is a great way to keep things moving. Also remember to eat. High protein meals keep our dopamine levels up to be able to think deliberately, make decisions more effectively and to keep your energy levels high.
- Resistance and Procrastination. Procrastination is the most common form of Resistance. What are you resisting? What are you avoiding? Ask yourself these questions and check in with how you are feeling. Remember, your thoughts create your feelings. So if you are thinking “I’m no good at this”, “I don’t know what I’m doing” or ” I’ll never get this done” then that is going to create a negative feeling in your body and that will lead you down a path of continuous procrastination. Because no one wants to do something that doesn’t feel good. Check your thoughts and choose a more positive mindset to keep you moving forward. Like, “What’s the next best step I can take to move me forward?”, “What can I start right now?” “How can I enjoy myself while I get this done?”.
- Acknowledge and Delay. Just like craving chocolate or high sugar foods, procrastination is a form of pleasure and as human beings we desire pleasure, it’s part of our hierarchy of core human needs. Procrastination can be pleasurable but unresourceful. So rather an deny ourselves of what the brain/body want, why not acknowledge it and give it what it wants? But, not right away. When procrastination sets in, acknowledge that it exists and talk to it as it was a person. “Yes I understand you want to procrastinate by watching TV right now, and I have a lot of important tasks to complete. So, Yes you can procrastinate, if you wait 24 hours. Tomorrow from 6 – 9pm you can watch TV to your hearts content”. Just put it off. Delay it. I know this sounds simple but it works. Works the same with your diet. Desperately craving chocolate or a glass of wine but know you shouldn’t? Acknowledge it, and say yes you can have that chocolate, tomorrow at 6pm. And just notice how that makes you feel. Do you still want it? Yes, but are you able to wait right now, so you can achieve your goals ? Yes, because we are not denying the brain, we’re just tricking it.
- Motivation is Bullshit so stop waiting for it to kick in. If you’ve tried, all of the above and none have worked then just take action. ANY action. Just start. Try starting at the end and working your way back. Try something different. Try something that doesn’t work and then try something that does. Waiting for motivation is like waiting for confidence. You can only get confident in something new once you’ve actually done it. Want to be confident in public speaking? Then get out there and speak in public. Want to be confident in speaking Spanish, then practice until it because easy. Want to get motivated to do things you don’t want to do. Just do them until you become motivated to continue.
And Lastly. Thank it. Thank the procrastination for the lesson it is teaching you, because this is what is going to take you to the next level. To your next level of confidence, next level of potential – coz let’s get real, you wouldn’t be procrastinating if it wasn’t important.
If you find these helpful, please let me know and please share with a friend to assist in their struggle too.
Cool, now what’s next on my list?
*Unconscious Patterns – when you find yourself scrolling through Facebook blindly and 20 minutes have passed and you didn’t even realize, then you’ve slipped into a pattern of behavior that subconsciously you have done may times before and requires no energy/dopamine to consciously think about doing.
*Automate – prepare your mornings the night before, decide what you are having for breakfast, what you plan to wear, your routine etc anything where you need to make decisions – pre-decide and plan ahead so your mornings run on autopilot.