Anyone who regularly procrastinates will tell you that they want to do the thing but they just keep putting it off. Often when we procrastinate we justify it to ourselves by prioriting things with low urgency that still give us that good feeling of that comes from getting things done.
We tell ourselves we’ll start later or tomorrow and we convince ourselves that that we still have enough time to get it done.
But what tends to happen is we just continue to put things off more and more. We do this until our stress levels start to increase and we reach the point where if we don’t start now we’ll miss the deadline.
And so you finally begin.
I had a recent experience with procrastination and once the work was complete I ended up reflecting on my behaviour.
When you get into the habit of choosing to procrastinate until the last possible moment, you train yourself to rely on stress to get things done. And so the next time you have a deadline you’re unable to find the motivation because you’re waiting for the adrenaline to kick in.
I think there are 2 main ways to stop procrastinating.
The first way is to experience things going wrong as a result of your procrastination. When our habits have negative implications this encourages a change in behaviour. It might start with you giving yourself 5 days for something instead of two and slowly build up until you become someone who always makes sure they have enough time.
The second is to just start straight away next time. We tell ourselves it’s difficult to start and just decide that it’s true when it’s not at all. Starting takes a little effort and commitment but it’s not as challenging as you tell yourself.
It’ll probably help to remind yourself of the benefits of starting straight away like being able to work at a steady pace instead of having to cram everything into a short period of time.
If you’re someone with a habit of procrastinating, it might not seem easy to change but it’s definitely possible.
There’s a popular saying that goes ‘Slow progress is better than no progress’. I totally agree.
What we often do is rush because we want progress to be quick.
Perhaps this is because slow progress doesn’t feel like moving forward in the moment. It’s only, in a few weeks or months time that you’re able to see how far you’ve come.
This idea of choosing to rush instead of embracing slow progress can be applied to many scenarios, one of which is procrastination.
Dedicating a few days to get something done is often much more appealing than spending a few weeks doing something bit by bit.
But often we don’t have a few days spare, just a few moments each week.
And the great thing about slow progress is that it helps build a habit of long term commitment.
On the other hand when you rush you’re relying on adrenaline and cortisol, what your body releases as a response to stress which is great in the short-tun but not something you want to make a habit out of.
If you were someone who led or pioneered in a particular sector or topic, how would you feel if you weren’t recognised for it.
Is getting credit more important than the work being noticed or the voices being heard?
For a lot of people they may tirelessly work towards a cause and receive little attention for it but they keep at it because they care. They keep on because it’s something that matters.
Then sometimes that thing becomes popular, the sector grows and may even reach a point of saturation. People in other areas get involved and if they’re already more established or more well known than you, they’ll receive more attention.
They may be praised as heroic for their contribution to those who have only just started to pay attention. But if you’re the one that was in it from the start, that can be a difficult thing to handle.
You might have to admit to yourself that you wanted the credit just as much as you wanted the change.
Once you do that, find a conclusion, something to bring you solace. Perhaps that it is more important to work on something you care about and be truly committed than it is to simply show up when it’s the cool thing to do.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither were helpful habits.
If you want to start reading more, getting up at 6am every morning, eating more nourishing food or committing to your creative projects, one day won’t make a difference on it’s own.
It’s a series of days, one by one, bit by bit that make the real difference.
One day isn’t enough to build a habit but that’s where things start. That one day will become 30 days and then 90 until that thing you’ve been doing each day is now part of your daily routine.
When you’re getting started, it’s worth remembering that change takes time. Don’t be disappointed after 3 days if you don’t feel like it, your brain is still getting used to your new way of doing things. Instead focus on it one day at a time and remember that you’re working towards something long-term.
And on days when you don’t feel like practicing your new habit, it won’t matter in the short-run but in the long run you’ll probably be glad you committed to it.
Talking about how unhappy you are with where you’re at is easy to do. Talking about the changes you want to happen in your life is also pretty easy.
But when it comes to actually turning those thoughts into plans, things tend to get a little more challenging.
First of all, there is the familiarity factor. There is comfort in familiarity. Just the fact that your current circumstance is what you’re used to will make it difficult for you to move on from it to something new.
Then, there is the commitment to the change you want.
Lastly, there is the risk ‘what if it doesn’t work?’
All of that is enough to convince many people to stay exactly where they are. Or they tell themselves they’ll make the changes slowly over time. But often those efforts are half-hearted.
What you might need to do is take a leap a faith. Launch yourself into the unknown, fully committed and knowing that you can handle whatever challenges come your way.
Sometimes that’s the only way to make changes in your life.
Is to start.
Not soon, not later and not tomorrow but now.
So often we find ourselves overwhelmed by our ever-growing to-do lists that we end up thinking more planning, more thinking and more organising is the way forward. But at the crux of it all without taking action, nothing is going to change.
You’ll be surprised at how at ease you feel once you start getting things done and actually commit to it for a chunk of time wholeheartedly instead of half-heatedly. Not long after starting you’ll find yourself getting into the flow of it and the anxious feels will begin to simmer.
Often it is merely the thought of doing the work that is causing you to feel overwhelmed not actually doing it.
There is great pleasure in the beginning stages of a new project.
You’re full of energy and ideas, getting carried away with possibilities and potential.
But at that point, the real work hasn’t even started. You haven’t had to fully commit and you haven’t faced any challenges, those are 2 things that come with time.
So, often we get drawn into starting something new because it feels good in the beginning. However, that feeling won’t last.
It’s often much more useful to stick with what you’ve already started, commit to it and over come the challenges you face along the way.
If you can’t find a way to commit to one thing, you’ll find yourself starting over and starting something new any chance you get. You’ll even convince yourself that the projects you start aren’t worth following through.
At the end of it, you’ll have nothing to show for yourself because you didn’t commit to anything for long enough to really make a go of it.
On the other hand if you stick with one thing and give it your all, you’ll have a much higher chance of actually bringing your vision to life, which is the reason you started in the first place.
We are currently in the period where your new years resolutions may have fallen away and you’re now back to your normal (pre new years resolution) self.
It’s a common thing, it happens to everyone at some point, I’m certain.
It can get frustrating to feel like the person you thought you’d become this year might not be as feasible as you thought.
But a helpful thing to do is remind yourself that although it’s feasible it will never be as easy as simply wanting it.
So often we commit to the end goal but not what it takes to get there.
Go through your 2020 goals or resolutions and ask yourself what have I done to make this happen?
If you haven’t made much progress, chances are the answer will be nothing.
It could be helpful to reassess your goals and think not only about what you want but what you’re willing to work for.
The reality of some ideas, projects and plans is that they are only great in theory.
When some things get brought to life they crumble and fall.
Sometimes it’s because we get carried away by the excitement of something new that we overlook or under estimate the time, effort, commitment, dedication and hard work that it takes to bring something to life.
Having a daily blog might sound great in theory but if you haven’t considered that you’ll need to find time to write, have something to say each day, plan ahead etc. The you might not be pleased with the outcome.
If something is great in theory it either means it doesn’t need to be brought to life or you need to take care when you do. It might not always be easy but it’s possible to produce something great.
I’ve recently developed a new habit that I’d previously had difficulty implementing.
When I initially tried to add this habit to my life, I kept falling flat. I wasn’t doing it as often as I wanted and my commitment to it was half-hearted.
After a short while I gave up on the habit because it clearly wasn’t working. In hindsight I can see that the problem was my approach but I didn’t realise it at the time.
Despite this I still held the intention of the thing I wanted to become a habit but I’d stopped trying.
Weeks later whilst lost in thought I realised that I’d unknowingly implemented the habit I’d previously been working towards. I think it happened because the intention was in my subconscious.
Granted at the time, I was only less than 2 weeks into the habit so it was more of a practice but I couldn’t help but notice that things felt so much easier.