What To Do About Procrastination

This guest post is by Camilla Kragius. Camilla is the founder of No More Hamster Wheel. She loves to teach people how to work smarter instead of harder and how to excel in life. You can connect with her on Facebook.

We all procrastinate. It’s unavoidable. But did you know that beating yourself up over your procrastination is the antithesis of productivity? It will only slow you down.

When we beat ourselves up for procrastinating, we dive into negative self-talk. Instead of giving ourselves a clean slate to start the day over, we think “Oh, I’m already screwing this up so why even bother trying now?”

That kind of negative self-talk only leads to more negative self-talk. Before you know it, your entire day has been unproductive. So whenever you find yourself participating in negative self-talk, it is important to recognize that you are doing it. Break things up by taking a walk, chatting with an upbeat friend or grabbing a healthy snack. Don’t allow your mind to continue to indulge any further in negativity.

Why We Procrastinate

Uncertainty is often the core reason behind procrastinating. Maybe the task at hand feels overwhelming. Maybe there is a lack of knowledge or training. Overwhelm can have many reasons. The way to get around the feeling of overwhelm is to break projects or tasks down into small bite sizes. Instead of thinking “This task will take me days to do,” set aside 15 minutes a day to work on the task at hand.

Often once we start doing the work, we usually find more motivation. We then realize that the work isn’t as bad as we thought. We tend to think a task is worse than it is. In our mind the task is awful, so we focus on how boring it is. These thoughts only make it more awful and boring. But when we know we only have to “suffer” for 15 minutes, then it’s mentally easier. There is a way out. No more having to work on something until it’s done–it’s only 15 minutes

More Reasons For Procrastinating

1. Perfectionism. You want everything to be perfect before you start. Since nothing will ever fit your “perfect criteria,” you procrastinate. This gives you an excuse as to why you haven’t done the work yet.

Action Step: Know that nothing is ever going to be perfect. We are our own worst critics. Be brave and take that first step.

2. Analysis paralysis. You avoid making decisions. This leads to procrastination because you do not know to do to move forward.

Action Step: Set a deadline for when you will decide. Research what you need to research and then make a decision and stick to it. Have someone keep you accountable. If it’s something simple, just toss a coin.

3. Better planning is needed. You need to spend more time with your task manager and your calendar.

Action Step: Unless you love running around frantically at the last minute, ask yourself what is one thing can you start doing to reduce the chaos in your life? Taking a few minutes to prepare things the night before is a great way to reduce stress in the morning. Even such a thing as picking what you will wear can reduce overwhelm.

4. You are afraid of either succeeding or failing. If you don’t do anything, you don’t risk either one.

Action Step: number one regret of dying people is that they didn’t live an authentic life and instead lived a “safe” life. Do you really want to have that kind of regret because of fear? We all fail and succeed…that’s part of life.

5. You are trying to do too many things. You’re in constant ‘mini-exhaustion’ mode where you are overwhelmed all of the time.

Action Step: Quit something every week or month. For every “yes” you say, you say “no” to something else. Stop doing too many things. You are no doubt a productive person. Just remember: even productive people need to rest.

There can be other reasons behind procrastination. In some cases, procrastination is not always a bad thing. Sometimes it’s good to procrastinate. Every now and then it is fine to ignore that huge pile of dishes in the sink to get a few more minutes of sleep. But also listen to why you avoid something. Are you trying to force yourself to do something just because someone said you should? Or society said you should? Try to figure out the root cause of your procrastination and then work on fixing that.

Do you know what causes you to procrastinate? Leave a comment below, and let’s start a conversation.