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Overcoming Procrastination: Strategies for Getting Things Done

Over the years, I’ve been the worst procrastinator. There are things I have wanted to do, and even though I am doing them now, I do regret putting them off for so long.

Many of us have experienced procrastination at some point in our lives. Whether it’s putting off a big personal goal, leaving the worst tasks until the end of our work day or waiting until the very last minute to do the laundry, procrastination really can stop us from being as productive as we would like. The good news, overcoming procrastination is entirely possible with the right strategies and attitude.

Understanding Procrastination

We all know what procrastination is, right? It’s that age-old bad habit of delaying tasks we know we should be doing. But why do we do it? Well, in my experience, it’s a fear of failure, not knowing how to do something, a lack of motivation and at times, just plain laziness.

The Cost of Procrastination

Procrastination can have more consequences than just being late with a project or running out of socks. It can lead to increased stress and anxiety when the pressure of mounting tasks all gets too much. When we procrastinate it can lead to missed opportunities, a negative impact on relationships, and feeling overwhelmed leading us into a vicious cycle.

Strategies for Overcoming Procrastination

The answer is to implement effective strategies to get things moving so we can take back control of our lives. Here are some tried-and-tested methods I use for overcoming procrastination:

1. Set Clear and Realistic Goals

Create specific goals with clearly defined deadlines. If your goal is to buy a new car, make a list of exactly what you’re looking for and how much you’ll need to save each month. For example: I want to buy a 2019 Honda Jazz in January 2025 and I’ll need to save $500 each month between now and then for the deposit. Having a clear roadmap means you know what you need to do and this will help you stay focused and motivated making it easier to overcome procrastination.

2. Break Tasks into Smaller Steps

Big projects can often feel overwhelming, leading to procrastination and I know I’m guilty of this. Breaking these down into manageable steps reduces the feeling of overwhelm allowing me to focus on one element at a time. This gives me a sense of accomplishment each time I complete a step as I work towards my goal, increasing momentum and results.

3. Use Time Management Techniques

With a background in the corporate world of managing diaries of CEOs and senior managers, my calendar is my go-to. Every task, big or small goes into my Google Calendar and is colour-coded. This means when I look at my calendar I can see at a glance when I need to attend an off-site meeting (red), do a particular task on a specific day and time (orange), travel to an appointment (red immediately before the meeting), and personal tasks (green). In addition, a daily list itemises each task I need to complete. Time blocking is another valuable tool I use for blogging and social media content creating several blog or social posts at one time.

4. Challenge Negative Thoughts

Procrastination can be a result of negative thoughts or self-limiting beliefs such as I am not good enough or I can’t do this. To find out if these thoughts are holding you back, ask yourself: Why am I procrastinating? Get quiet and listen for the answers. Be honest with yourself. You may have some inner work to do here with your inner critic.

5. Reward Yourself

A personal reward system can work wonders too. Whether it's a small treat, a break to do something you enjoy, or simply acknowledging your progress, rewards can provide motivation and reinforcement for desired behaviours. Make a list of the types of things you’ll use as rewards.

6. Practice Self-Compassion

Be kind to yourself when you slip up or encounter setbacks. Procrastination is a common struggle, and beating yourself up over it only makes matters worse. Instead, practice self-compassion and forgiveness, and focus on learning from your mistakes and moving forward. If I slip up, my primary therapist’s words always come to mind, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and carry on.

Overcoming procrastination requires self-awareness, discipline, and persistence. And to be honest, it’s something I slip into at times even now after all these years of doing my personal work. If I’m stressed, don’t know how to do something or have a big fear, I do procrastinate. Understanding my triggers and having strategies to overcome my procrastination means I can get back on track sooner. Remember, you can achieve your goals and dreams, you just need self-awareness and proven tools.

With love,

Kathryn x


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