Are you a procrastinator?

Many of us have the tendency to put things off, and if you are one of the many people now spending more time at home, it’s even easier to do!

It’s so easy to find an excuse to delay starting work on that report, answering that email, or even doing that exercise when no-one is looking over your shoulder. But we keep doing it again and again. If you’re ready to finally beat procrastination and get ahead of the game, you’re in the right place. 

Over the course of 4 blog posts, I’m going to share my best tips and strategies for overcoming procrastination with you and we start today with – forgiveness and then planning. I know it seems like a strange place to start, but it’s an important first step. Here is why forgiving yourself for procrastination should always be the first step. 

Forgive yourself in order to improve

There’s nothing you can do about the past except learn from it. Beating yourself up about not following the plan you made for reaching a goal does you no good. In face it does the opposite. If you stress yourself out, and engage in negative self-talk, you make it worse, and those feelings of anxiety will enforce your habit to procrastinate again the next time. 

The next time you find yourself procrastinating, tell yourself that it’s okay. It’s not the end of the world. Say it out loud and then promise yourself to do better. You’re working on mastering a new skill and changing a habit. That takes practice and time, and perhaps failing occasionally. It’s part of the learning process. 

You may feel frustrated at times about your lack of progress. If you can, tap into that frustration and use it to motivate you. Vow to do better. Look at your mistakes. What caused you to procrastinate this time? Learn from it and you will start to do better. 

Maybe there’s a big task and you started strong, chipping away at it a little at a time. Then you delayed doing the next part. That’s okay. Not great, but okay. You did well for a while. It’s good practice and maybe this particular experience taught you that (e.g.) you should schedule a specific time each day to do that task. 

There’s always something new to learn. At the very least we figure out that something isn’t working for us. You won’t know until you try. 

Forgive yourself for procrastinating so you can move on, and improve. 

Set a goal and take action

Getting over procrastination takes action. Of course that is easier said than done.

I’m going to share a simple three-step process with you that will help you succeed.

  1. It all starts with a goal. You have to know what it is you want to accomplish. If you don’t know what your goal is (or where you’re going), you won’t know what you should be doing first or what you should be doing to move in the right direction. Your goal is simply putting what you know you need to get done into words. A good goal has defined parameters and a set deadline. That doesn’t have to be complicated.

    You may have heard of the SMART acronym for goal setting, but I use another acronym, MASTER, which includes “E”. The letters stand for making sure the goal is: M – measurable, A – achievable, S – specific, T – timed (has an end date), E- that you are equipped to do the task, and R – that the task, available time, and other parameters mean it is realistic.

    A simple goal that most of us have to accomplish is to file our tax return by a specific date. You have a pretty good idea of what paperwork you need, the forms you need to fill out, and how to send them to the tax office. You also know what your deadline is. In other words, you have a well-defined goal when it comes to filing your income taxes. And yes, I realise most of us still procrastinate when it comes to this particular task. That’s why the remaining steps are just as important as the first one. For now I want you to think about one thing you need to get done and turn it into a goal.
  2. Write it down. I don’t care if you find a random scrap of paper, use your favorite notebook, or type a note to yourself on your phone. The important part is that you put your goal into writing using the MASTER acronym. This does two things. First of all, it helps you clarify what your goal is. You have to get pretty specific when you try to put what you want or need to do into words. Secondly, writing it down gives you something to look back on. It serves as a reminder and as a tool that you can use when you are tempted to procrastinate. 
  3. Last but not least, it’s time to get started – often the hardest part! Start by doing the very first action – even a small action. As a personal example, I’m tempted to skip my workout until I lace up my shoes and get started. Once I’m off and exercising, it’s much easier to keep going.

    Once you have your goal written down, think about something you can do right now to move you in the right direction. Go and do it. Then come back and do something else. Each morning, start by looking at your goal and challenge yourself to take action. Before you know it, you will have made some serious progress. And you’re starting to beat procrastination. 

I hope these tips have been helpful. Next time I’ll discuss how to keep motivated and avoid distractions.

Until then, feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Lisa Billingham
Sunset Coast Hypnotherapy
Perth, Western Australia

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