In my struggle with procrastination, I discovered six steps on how to overcome procrastination.
Procrastination is a dreaded word. We can use procrastination to our advantage. But most of the time, it stops us from achieving our goals.
The Randomness of Procrastination
I work as a project manager during the day and a blogger at night and on weekends. I am conscious of maximizing my time to achieve my goals. But sometimes, I fall short. I procrastinate on my goals.
This is a typical example of what procrastination looks like for me.
On Friday night, I write down my MIMs (Most Important Missions) which are my top three activities for the next day. I create time-slots for these activities. To me, this means I would definitely achieve my MIMs.
- Write blog post — 6 am
- Rewrite a blog post I wrote a few days ago — 10 am
- Research keywords and tweak SEO on my blog — 1 pm
6 am — I set my alarm the previous night. My alarm wakes me up. I ask myself why I should wake up early on a weekend when I have to do the same thing every week day. I go back to bed.
9 am — I pray, read my Bible and I write in my journal. I remind myself I’m not going out. I have a lot of time to do my MIMs. I snuggle back in bed. It’s a sweet and peaceful life.
11 am — I binge on Gary Vee’s audio podcasts. After listening to Gary Vee, I feel pumped to do my MIMs but I don’t. At the back of my mind, I think the day still seems long.
1 pm — I go into the kitchen to cook something to eat. I eat.
2 pm — I’ve eaten. I’ve binged on podcasts. The day still seems long. I call friends and family members. A friend asks me to hang out. I sadly refuse because I want to focus on my MIMs.
4 pm — I feel sleepy. I take a short nap. I can do my MIMs in the evening.
6 pm — I have a headache and I feel restless. I watch TV. Now, I feel guilty because I’ve not done my MIMs. I feel like a failure. Life sucks.
8 pm — I hate feeling guilty. I write my blog post. I’m tired and cranky. I don’t produce work I’m proud of. I feel even more guilty.
We need to break out of this cycle. I would like to share my 6-step guide on how to overcome procrastination.
It’s a simple and actionable step-by-step guide. You need to achieve the dream burning deep within you. Procrastination is an enemy to your achievement.
6 Steps To Overcome Procrastination
Step 1 — Do a Deep Assessment
Why do you procrastinate?
What activity exactly are you procrastinating?
This might seem like a dumb question. But do you truly know the activity you keep procrastinating?
I love to write but I’ve realized one of the hardest things to do in life is to sit down and write. Once you start writing, you get into the flow and it’s a beautiful experience. But to sit down at your chair and write, that’s hard.
I published only one article on my blog in August. I kept asking myself why I couldn’t write but I couldn’t figure out why. One day, I realized I felt I couldn’t write better than my last article. That article received the highest number of recommends, views, reads and comments I have ever received on Medium.
I was stuck! It was hard for me to write because I thought I couldn’t do better than my last article.
You could procrastinate because you are afraid of losing your source of income. Or you could be afraid of failure or success. It’s important to be honest and clear with yourself.
Write in your journal to receive clarity on your true feelings. This would give you a clear direction on how to overcome procrastination.
Step 2 — Visualize the end result
You know what activity you are procrastinating. You also know why you are procrastinating.
Now, visualize the end result. What do you want? How would you feel when you get it?
For me, writing and publishing a blog post gives me a sense of achievement. There are few things that give me as much satisfaction as hitting that Publish button.
I visualize the way I feel when I publish a blog post. I think about my subscribers who I send emails to every Monday. I remember the awesome feedback I receive from readers. This motivates me to stop procrastinating.
Step 3— Break down your big goal into small, manageable tasks
Having a big goal can seem intimidating. When you break down your big goal into small tasks, it’s easier to manage and achieve.
For example, you want to write a book. This would seem intimidating. But if you break it down into small, manageable tasks, it’s less intimidating.
In Jeff Goin’s book, Real Artists Don’t Starve, he talked about John Grisham, a bestselling author. John wrote a page of his first novel, A Time To Kill every morning. In 3 years, he had completed the manuscript and sent it to publishers.
Commit to doing a small task on your big goal every day. You’d be amazed at how much you’ve achieved at the end of the year.
Step 4 — Un-schedule
Make a onesie. I heard this line from Marie Forleo and I found it intriguing. Your most important mission. Do that. Then play for the rest of the day.
Spend time with family. Go swim or play tennis or hockey. Enjoy your hobbies. But tackle your onesie first thing in the morning.
My onesie is to write my blog post. I now write my blog post first thing in the mornings. I do this at 5:30 am before the world demands my attention; before I have to go to the office.
It’s significantly improved my productivity. I published this blog post as a result of my new morning habit.
Step 5 — Set a timer and apply deep focus
When you set a timer and apply deep focus, you complete the task ahead of schedule.
I write my blog posts in the mornings. But the process of editing/rewriting is a different subject entirely. I used to spend days and sometimes weeks to rewrite a blog post. It’s a good practice to let your writing sit for a day or two before you edit.
But if you don’t set a deadline, you could go on editing forever.
Try this instead. On the day, you want to complete your big task, set a timer. You could be making an outfit or rewriting the copy on your sales page.
Be realistic with the duration of time you set. For example, set a two-hour deadline and focus. Remove distractions. I put my phones and all gadgets in the other room. Focus and don’t do anything else until you complete the task.
This would help you achieve tasks you have been procrastinating for a long time.
Step 6 — Reward yourself
What reward will you give yourself at the end of this task? Or what will you punish yourself with? A friend told me about her life coach. She pays a certain amount of money when she defaults on her deadlines for her personal goals.
This is a form of punishment which you can apply but I feel rewarding yourself is more motivating. I reward myself by watching my favorite movie or hanging out with friends.
Whatever reward you choose, make sure it’s something you love.
“Some people dream of worthy accomplishments; others stay awake and do them” — Myles Munroe
It’s great to dream but you need to be a doer. I have great dreams but if I don’t act on them, there’s no point in dreaming.
Dream big. Act in small, practical steps.
Overcome procrastination today.
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