One day you wake up and have a great idea. It’s an idea that seems revolutionary, and could have a major impact on your business and your life. However, instead of implementing it you end up distracting yourself with random time wasters – things like checking email, social media, watching videos, or surfing blogs. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything. Once you realize what’s happening, it’s easy to wonder, “what on earth am I doing, I need to stop procrastinating.” If you can relate, here are some practical ideas to help get you out of a rut.
When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them until it’s too late. And when it is too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier. Chronic procrastinators can spend months or even years in this cycle. Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here are six practical steps I’ve used with great success in my life to stop procrastinating I’m confident you’ll be able to apply them to your life as well:
1. Break The Work Into Small Parts
Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because we find the scope of a project too overwhelming for us. That can be overcome by breaking it down into little parts and focusing on one part at a time. If you’re still struggling on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “wow, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!” Here’s a really practical example. The idea of building a business is overwhelming. If you break it down into practical pieces, it’s still big, but it becomes less overwhelming. Consider breaking it down like this – (1) Research your market (2) Write down a business plan (3) Set up the legal organization (4) Create key business assets (5) Explore PR/Marketing opportunities (6) Sell, (6) Network with key people in your industry. Now take each one of those phases and break them down even further. Eventually, you’ll get to the level where everything seems very manageable. At that point, focus on the immediate phase and get it done to the best of your ability, without thinking about the other phases. Once you’re finished with step one, you can begin thinking about what comes next.
2. Change your perspective
Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look around. Do your desk and your room make you want to work or do they make you want to take a nap? If it’s the latter, start looking into changing your workspace. I’ve found that it’s impossible to be productive in a space that’s cluttered and disorganized.
3. Create a detailed timeline with clear deadlines
Having a single deadline for your work is an invitation to procrastinate. When all we have is one deadline and it’s far in the future, we trick ourselves and begin thinking that we have loads of time before things need to be done. Then we keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late. First break down your project, then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. Once you know that you have to finish each task by a certain date, you’ll be motivated. My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, and even daily task lists. I know that I need to accomplish each task by the specified date, or else the overall project will be delayed.
4. Eliminate pitfalls and stop procrastinating
One reason that procrastination can be difficult to overcome is because it’s become so easy to procrastinate. There are time wasters everywhere. Identify your browser bookmarks that waste your time and hide them. Disable the automatic notification option in your email box. Get rid of the distractions around you. The battle to stop procrastinating is about being conscious of our actions and recognizing the real consequences of our inaction.
5. Tell others about your goals
Tell your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. When you see them, hopefully they’ll ask you for an update. Procrastination thrives when you feel like there aren’t any consequences for a delay. When nothing is at stake, it’s easy to put something off. One unique website that I’ve found to help with setting and achieving goals is Stickk. As soon as there’s accountability to accomplish your goal, procrastination becomes more difficult. Derek Halpern summed this up very well. Have a look at his video on how to stop procrastinating here:
6. Go for it!
At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. The bottom line is this. No one has ever procrastinated their way to success and I doubt that’s ever going to change. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to buckle down on yourself and do it.