I’d like to say that I never struggle with procrastination, but that would be a lie. I am great at getting projects done for my boss at work, keeping commitments to family, and following through for friends. But when it comes to doing things for me? Sometimes it can be really challenging.
I’ve worked with many clients that struggle with procrastination, usually related to their health or health goals. They know they should be eating differently, getting more movement, or taking steps to fix a health issue, but they feel completely overwhelmed and lost. Today I’m sharing my top six tips for moving forward in your life and ending procrastination… for good.
1. Identify the tasks or goals
It’s easy for us to procrastinate if we are not clear on what needs to be done. The first step is to make a list of everything that you need or want to do. Don’t worry about prioritizing or making the list perfect, your goal here is simply to dump all of your ideas and tasks out onto paper.
2. Break down each task into small steps
If one of your goals is to eat healthier, but you have no idea what healthy eating means for you or what foods work best for your body, this would make anyone feel overwhelmed and want to procrastinate. Instead, break this down into several steps. For instance, purchase one new vegetable this week, research basic recipes, and stock your kitchen with spices, etc. Now is the time to look back on your list and break each task or goal down into smaller steps. What needs to happen step-by-step to complete each item?
3. Create a timeline
Once you are clear on the steps needed for each task or goal, pull out your calendar and assign each one of them a time when you will work on them. Make sure to be realistic of your time and not overwhelm yourself by scheduling too much on a certain day. You might feel inclined to skip this step, but resist the urge. The only way to make your tasks and goals real is to schedule a specific day and time and hold yourself accountable.
4. Do the things you dread first
Figure out your worst task of the day and start each day by completing this dreaded task. This is called “eating your frog.” The idea is once you have eaten your frog, the rest of your day is going to be easier because the worst is already over.
Many of us procrastinate and delay our dreaded task again and again so it hangs over our heads. The problem with this is that it makes you want to avoid everything because you can’t stand the thought of doing that dreaded task. So, start each morning by “eating your frog” and getting it out of the way.
5. Identify the barriers and push past your fear
Inevitably, you will come across a task that you want to procrastinate. It doesn’t matter that you’ve broken it down. It doesn’t matter that you scheduled a time to do it. It doesn’t matter that you told yourself you’re actually going to “eat your frog” this time.
When you find yourself actively resisting a task, take a break and physically step away. Ask yourself what is keeping you from doing it. Is it because you don’t have the information you need to complete it? Are you bored by the task at hand? Are you scared of a potential outcome?
The key here is that you have to get honest with yourself because you can’t overcome the barrier if you don’t know what is holding you back. For most of my clients, they find that the true cause of their procrastination is fear. The fear of failing. The fear of “not being good enough.” And even sometimes, the fear of succeeding.
Once you identify your barrier, visualize yourself completing the task successfully. What will it feel like to push past that fear? How will you feel when it is all over? Then plan out step-by-step what you need to do in order to actively push past the fear or emotion holding you back.
6. Reward yourself
Possibly the most important piece of this is to reward yourself! When you “eat your frog,” cross items off your to-do list, or are successful in achieving a goal, it is vital for you to take a moment and reward yourself. It doesn’t have to be a big reward – it can be as simple as taking a long bath or making yourself a cup of tea. The important thing is to recognize your hard work and reward yourself for you effort, not just results.