Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?

Whether you’ve been trying to focus on revision for an exam, finish your tax return, start a new exercise regime, write a book, or make an important business decision, procrastination can affect everyone at some point in their life and become a problem and cause unwanted stress.

But procrastination doesn’t necessarily equal lazy. Inaction is often caused by anxiety, fear of failure or negative perfectionism.

It may be that some simple changes in daily behaviour may enable us to tackle the procrastination head on.

Work in productive environments. Choose where you work and who you work with wisely. Don’t work in places filled with distractions.

Set realistic targets. Success doesn’t come about overnight. This will prevent self-sabotage by creating unrealistic expectations. Eat that elephant one bite at a time. Why try the impossible?

Develop a flexible schedule. This will help by enabling you to only focus on the important tasks and allow time for extracurricular activities. Rigid schedules can leave you feeling overwhelmed and constantly under pressure to meet an unnecessary deadline.

Flip your daily to-do list. Rather than becoming overwhelmed by a lengthy ‘to-do’ list, focus on the one item that will bring the biggest result. Our natural human inclination is to put difficult tasks off until later, getting sidetracked by more comfortable tasks. We can invent convenient reasons to justify to ourselves why we have not got that one thing done.

Set deadlines. Deadlines, whether self-imposed, set by your customers or partners, force us to get things done.

Take a walk without thinking.

Make good use of the time you liberate. If you hire a cleaner or a PA to free up time, make sure you use the extra 2 hours a day to focus on something important, such as your business strategy.

Reign in the Perfectionism. Most of us soothe our anxieties and stay mediocre by perfecting things that don’t need to be perfect at all. You spend 15 minutes editing that email before you press send. Done is better than perfect.

Take at least one day off a week a Saturday or a Sunday and avoid the temptation of checking your email. Everyone needs space to simply do nothing. Your best business ideas will come when you’re relaxed, not working and having fun doing what you enjoy. Whether it’s playing sports with your children, reading a book or trying a new recipe, such activities will fuel your creativity.

Interruptions kill productivity if you need to concentrate on a task: switch off email and social media notifications; switch your phone to silent; and explain to  coworkers that you need to work uninterrupted for a while.

FEAR and Procrastination

For deep rooted problems of procrastination to be solved, it’s important to address the REASON for your procrastination, rather than the act of procrastination itself.

Often fear arises from a fear of failure. Taking a closer look at our fears can enable us to see if they are groundless.

A number of fears contribute to procrastination, including but not limited to:

  • Fear that you’ll fail or do badly. Probably the most common one.
  • Fear of the unknown — the task is not familiar to you, so you don’t know what to do or where to start.
  • Fear of the uncomfortable. It’s easy to do things we’re comfortable with, but doing new things is uncomfortable so we put them off.
  • Fear of starting in the wrong place. You don’t start because what if you’re not starting the right way?

These are all obviously related, and they can be summed up as “fear of failure or not being good enough”.

START NOW

If you never start, you’ll never have a chance to fail. But you’ll never have a chance to succeed, either. So stop pretending you haven’t failed by not trying. Stop procrastinating and go for it! START NOW and fulfil your potential!