Did you know that procrastinating is not good for your emotional well-being or confidence?
We all procrastinate from time to time. Some of us more regularly than others. Sometimes we don’t even realise we’re doing it.
Procrastinating often causes us stress and other negative emotions such as guilt or regret. The habit of procrastinating can also encourage negative beliefs about our abilities. Sometimes it’s also a symptom of emotion unbalance and a sign you need to focus on your mental well-being.
Procrastinating too much can hold you back from doing well in your life and stop you achieving your dreams.
Taking action on the other hand gives us a sense of achievement and can help build our sense of control in life.
Why do we procrastinate?
Starting to recognise why you are procrastinating is the first step in doing something about it.
Here’s a brief summary of some of the possible reasons you might find yourself procrastinating:
- We often learn to procrastinate as a way to feel more in control. We all have a need to feel in control and through childhood and later in work situations, procrastination can be like an unconscious ‘rebellion’ or way of doing things on your own terms.
- Procrastination can be said to be part of ‘flight’ or the avoidance part of our flight/flight survival response. So if something is overwhelming or if we fear failing, or even if we just expect something to be hard or boring then procrastination can be our unconscious way of protecting ourselves from stress or from the outcome we fear. This in turn can create more fear and encourage more procrastination.
- We have an internal conflict between long term rewards and a bias towards immediate gratification. Even though we can imagine our goal brining us benefits in the future, our inherent preference for reward in the moment or in the short term often overrides the longer term benefit. You only have to look at goals about losing weight or exercise to see this immediate reward bias in action.
- Perhaps, you don’t really not really want the outcome….. I love the quote by John Rohn, “If you really want something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t you’ll find an excuse”.
Here are some tips about how to start overcoming procrastination:
1. Switch off distractions
I’ve put this as number one only because things like social media, phone and email are an increasing source of distraction which encourages us to procrastinate and lose focus.
2. Break tasks down into small chunks and set short time periods
If something is overwhelming we will often avoid it so make it manageable and easier to complete by giving yourself smaller chunks. Each time you complete a small chunk your sense of achievement and control increases.
3. Reward yourself
Motivate yourself with something fun or rewarding each time you complete a chunk or after a short time period. This feeds the need for instant gratification but means you have to take action to get the reward.
4. Focus on the purpose
Reminding yourselves about the benefits of doing something is helpful in motivating you to keep going. Try visualising yourself having completed everything. How will you feel? Why is it important?
5. Build yourself a structure
By making a plan, writing action lists and giving yourself deadlines will give you a structure which helps give you more of a sense of control and achievement. Prioritise what needs doing first and focus on one thing at a time.
6. Overcome your fears
The fear of failure is often what holds us back from doing things but it might be another fear getting in the way. These types of fears are often linked to limiting beliefs about not being good enough or not deserving success. Each time you procrastinate you are feeding this belief and the habit. The best way to start to overcome a fear or limiting belief is by facing it and doing something about it.
7. Forget perfect
Procrastinating because it’s not the right time or the conditions aren’t perfect is linked to the point above. Make yourself take action even if you start small…
8. Share your goals and plans with others
When we feel accountable to others for a goal or if a goal is public we often feel more motivated to commit to achieving it.
9. Meet your physical needs
All too often people forget that stress and tiredness can cause us to procrastinate. Not meeting our physical needs can cause us to lack energy, feel de-motivation and even experience low moods. So remember the basics of good sleep, nutritious food, staying hydrated and taking exercise. Plus getting out into the fresh air and sunshine can really help.
10. Do you really want the outcome?
If you don’t achieve the goal or complete the task, what will that mean to you? What will you lose and what will you gain from not doing it? Be honest with yourself…what do you really want?
If you want advice on how to overcome fears and limiting beliefs or are interested in personal coaching, get in touch with me on www.clareburgess.co.uk
To read more about Clare Burgess click here
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