The ability to overcome procrastination is one of the key habits for success because the tendency to put things off is one of the most significant obstacles that prevent people from reaching their goals.
Here are my top ten ways to overcome procrastination. When you notice yourself avoiding an activity or goal, it is helpful to step back and really think about WHY you are putting this off. Here’s where we can learn so much, because often times the WHY will point you to HOW you can overcome procrastination.
One of the most effective ways to overcome procrastination is simply to just GET STARTED. If you do something, no matter how small it may seem, that will move you a step closer to your goals, that progress will give you additional energy and momentum for more action and consequently more progress.
Reinforce the importance of taking action by viewing our Action Quotes
- Your goal is important but not urgent or it doesn't have a deadline. If you don't purposefully plan for important activities, there will always be something urgent that steps in front of your important goals. Often the important goals in our lives are things we want to do in an ongoing manner, which means they do not have deadlines. If this is the case, consider making your important goals more specific so it will be clear at the end of each day or week whether you have taken action to further those goals. When it's possible, set deadlines to accomplish your goals, but be wary of having an aggressive schedule. Many people have a tendency to over-promise and under-deliver, which will drain the life right out of your goals because of the focus and emphasis on what didn't get done.
- Your goal seems too big and/or you don't know where to start.Begin by getting clear on what exactly you will do. Be specific and break the objective down into smaller, more manageable goals. If you make steady progress on small goals, then you build your confidence and can use that momentum and energy to take further action. Also, just because you take on a task, doesn’t mean you have to sink or swim on your own. It’s OK to ask for help, but don’t wait until the last minute to do so!
- You do not have a support team. Ask for help from people you trust, respect and admire. You'll be surprised at how willing many people are to help you reach your goals. You might also consider working with a coach who can provide a structured approach to supporting your success.
- You started and now the goal involves more than you expected. It is difficult to know what is really involved until you dive in and take action. If you find that the task is much bigger than you originally expected, it's natural to become frustrated with slow progress. Give yourself permission to lessen your expectations and take smaller steps. Utilize your support team or accountability system to keep moving toward your goal.
- You are faced with competing priorities or you have too much to do in too little time. In today's busy world with so many choices and opportunities, this is big deal. You can overcome procrastination by realizing that you cannot do everything. Every decision you make regarding how you will spend your time impacts all the potential ways you could be spending that time. Clarify the priority each of your goals has with respect to all of your goals and commitments. To aid in your prioritization, you may want to rate your goals on two scales:
- Importance - How important is this activity to me?
- Enjoyment - How much do I enjoy this activity or how much will I enjoy the benefit of attaining the goal?
- You don't want to do the work. In these instances, the constant procrastination can drain your energy and your attitude. Overcoming procrastination in this case really depends on who requested you to do the job:
- If you are doing it for yourself, then consider it's importance to your goals and objectives. If it doesn't match, forget about it and let it go.
- If you got yourself into this situation because someone asked for a favor and you agreed, then you might want to focus on “saying no” to keep this from happening again. If you can get out of the situation gracefully, try to do so. Otherwise, take the time to do the job and learn from the experience to prevent it from happening again.
- If the task is part of your job and your boss is expecting you to do it, then your options are more limited. You might have to just buckle down and complete the task. You might also consider asking for assistance from co-workers in order to get the job done more quickly.
- You want to achieve the goal, but you can't pinpoint what is preventing you. Usually these are not goals, but rather something that you think you should want or something that other people think you should want. To make your goals a reality, they should be energizing and important to you. They are individual and unique to you. You are setting yourself up for failure to set goals based on what someone else will think.
- You don't have the buy-in of others who are involved. This is a difficult obstacle to overcome, particularly if you must have the commitment of others! Remind yourself and others why this task is important - to both you and them. Help them identify and express the personal benefit they will receive by achieving the goal.
- You lack information, knowledge, or skills to reach the goal. Often it is easier to rely on procrastination than it is to spend a little time researching, gathering information, and learning what you need in order to complete the task. To resolve this, begin by identifying what information, knowledge or skills you need and where you can find them. Then you can add interim steps to your goal for acquiring what you have identified. Don't forget to use your support team as a possible source!
- You lack money, tools or other resources. To overcome procrastination in this case, determine what resources you need to accomplish the goal and possible sources to attain those tools. Utilize your support team and others involved to develop interim steps or sub-goals to acquire those resources that are needed to accomplish the larger goal. Think "outside the box" about possible alternatives to the resources or how you might achieve the goal without the resources.
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