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Procrastination is a trap many of us fall into.  Procrastination is also a habit, that can become a consistent pattern of behaviour if left unchecked.  We all procrastinate to some degree.  Whether that’s leaving important projects to the last minute, wasting time on unimportant tasks or choosing to something you know you shouldn’t be doing.  In this article. we’ll explore why we procrastinate, how to recognise procrastination and provide proven strategies and tips on how to stop procrastinating.

Want to learn how to stop procrastinating?  Overcoming procrastination will help you feel clearer, more confident and more motivated to take action towards achieving their biggest goals. In this article I’ll share eight proven strategies so you can learn how to stop procrastinating and get into focused action.

Part of the reason we procrastinate is because the task or project we’re doing seems too daunting or not exciting enough but, if left unchecked,  procrastination can make us feel stressed, unmotivated and bored with our business and life.

If you’re struggling with procrastination right now, it’s important to know you can stop procrastinating by using the 8 tips and strategies I’m about to share with you.  

They will help you get greater clarity on why you’re procrastinating, and help you overcome procrastination and get into focused action.

If you want to learn how to stop procrastinating, use these 8 proven steps. 

What is procrastination? 

Procrastination is simply the habit of delaying an important task, usually by focusing on less urgent, more enjoyable, and easier activities instead.  Procrastination can restrict your potential and lead to stress, frustration and an inability to move forward and take action.

It starts when you have an activity that may seem exciting but you’re having trouble getting started in the first place.  Procrastination is different from laziness because procrastinators choose to do something else, while laziness is the unwillingness to to anything.

Why do I keep procrastinating?

When we procrastinate we put things off as long as possible before taking action.  People often procrastinate because they’re afraid of failing or don’t feel like they have the self-confidence to take on the task.  This may be because they find it boring or unpleasant or they don’t have the capabilities to take on the work.

If you’ve procrastinated over anything, you’re familiar with the pain and stress that goes hand in hand with feeling like a procrastinator. 

The procrastination might be when a deadline is due or an important event is about to happen and you have to take action. 

If you procrastinate, you’re probably familiar with the time you waste doing everything other than getting started on the project or activity you’re procrastinating about.

We’ve all experienced the same thing.  We’re all procrastinators in some way.

To learn how to stop procrastinating, the first step is to recognise that you procrastinate in the first place.

The second step is to identify the reasons behind the what and the why of the procrastination and the third step is to develop appropriate strategies to stop procrastinating and get into action.

Will I ever stop procrastinating?

You can stop procrastinating if you recognise you’re procrastination and come up with anti-procrastination strategies.  Procrastination is a habit, that will continually repeat unless action is taken to stop procrastinating.  Part of the reason we procrastinate is that we find the task in front off us too daunting.  We don’t think we have the confidence or capability to take on the work.

But, when we procrastinate, we squander opportunities.  We put off important tasks we know we should be doing, often until it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, or deadlines are upon us, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

Procrastination makes us put off things, hide from important work, find distractions and only face the work when it’s unavoidable.

Chronic procrastinators repeat this process over and over again.  Don’t let procrastination take over your life, use the proven strategies I’m about to share to help you stop procrastinating.

Tips to help you stop procrastinating

There are several proven strategies you can use to learn how to stop procrastinating so you can take action on achieving your bigger and better goals.

Use these 8 tips to help you start overcoming procrastination and get into focused action.

1. Stop chasing an impossible ideal

Procrastination often happens when we chase an impossible ideal.  When we set personal goals for ourselves and our business we build a picture of what that ideal future looks like.

Once we have this vision, we set goals and actions to help get us there.

Two things then come into play.

Firstly, we set up ideals or goals that are so far ahead of our current capabilities and confidence that the outcome we wants feels impossible to achieve.

Secondly, we create these ideal or goals without really thinking about them.  We aren’t emotionally and intellectually engaged enough and inspired enough to achieve the goal or ideal.

There is no preparation.  We haven’t thought enough about the action steps needed to reach this ideal.

We then get stuck, start procrastinating and sometimes avoid even trying.  Our ideal gets further and further away from where we currently are.  

If you want to stop procrastinating stop setting impossible ideals that you simply can’t reach right now.

2. Stop procrastinating by taking the first step 

We often find ourselves procrastinating because we don’t know the first step to take.  Let me explain as this will help you learn how to stop procrastinating in the future. 

You may have big goals that you’ve created for yourself but because the goal is bigger than anything you’ve achieve in the past you don’t have the clarity on what the first step is, or the confidence to take.  When this happens you procrastinate.

This procrastination causes overwhelm, confusion and a feeling of being stuck.  Many people put off getting started because they don’t know the first step to take. 

The first step to stop procrastinating is to get clear on the outcome you want and lay out the first step you can take, however small.  This builds momentum which can be very powerful.  

Increased excitement and energy help you take that first step.  High levels of energy is one of the best ways to get you into action and get yourself to stop procrastinating.  Once you’ve taken the first step, lay out the second step and so on. 

3. Stop thinking that nothing is ever good enough

Procrastination and perfectionism often go hand in hand.  When we have perfectionist tendencies, we often waste hours and days tinkering, amending and changing things trying to make it perfect. 

A significant cause of procrastination and perfectionism is comparing ourselves and our performance to others.  When you spend a lot of time across social media you are bound to be inundated with stories and images of how peers and friends are ‘succeeding’

They may have more friends, connections, money, followers than you. 

When you compare yourself to someone else, you start procrastinating.  This might be because of fear of failure or a worry that your performance might not measure up.  

If you want to stop procrastinating, don’t compare yourself to others.  Stay on your own path.

Forget about perfectionism and continually tweaking, shining and changing things to make them perfect.

Ask your yourself if perfect is really what’s needed or whether what you’ve produced is good enough.  

Celebrate every success you have and step back and express gratitude for what you’ve achieved once in a while.  Read more on overcoming perfectionism.

4. Overcome procrastination by setting achievable goals  

Procrastination often happens when you don’t have clarity around your future direction.  You don’t have specific, measurable goals to work towards that inspire you to take action.

You procrastinate because you have no clear path to follow.

This can leave you feeling confused, stuck and powerless, which creates procrastination.

To help you learn how to stop procrastinating, set out ambitious but achievable goals that include your objectives and some concrete ways to reach them.

If you procrastinate, start with setting a small number of short-term goals.  Five is a good number to start with as that number is not too intimidating and overwhelming.  Make the goals measurable as that will give you a clear focus and something specific to work towards every day. 

When you have no clear destination, it’s easy to procrastinate and feel lost and unsure.  If you have exciting goals to work towards, you’ll be more likely to stop procrastinating. 

5. Identify your bigger purpose to stop procrastinating

Motivation and confidence matter if you want to stop procrastinating.   If you don’t feel excited or motivated, it’s easy to feel stuck and start procrastinating.  

When you’re not clear why you’re doing what you’re doing – what your purpose is, than it can be very easy to find other things to do, apart from the things that are really important.  This is when procrastination sets in.

If you have clarity about what you’re trying to achieve and understand the difference it will make in your life, and the reason for doing it, motivation and confidence can grow.

That emotional engagement will stop procrastination and motivate you to take the next step towards achieving your goals.

The next time you procrastinate ask yourself why you want to do the thing you’re doing or why you want to achieve the goal you’ve set for yourself. 

Reconnect with your why to stop procrastinating.  When you find yourself dragging your feet, stop to remind yourself why you wanted to do this in the first place.

6. Break things down 

We procrastinate when we have big goals that may take a long time to achieve because the achievement of the goal feels so far in the future.  To stop procrastinating bring your mind back to the present moment and break down the small action steps you need to take right now.  

People often get stuck and start procrastinating by focusing on the enormity of the goals, rather than the component parts. To key to stop procrastinating is to get clear on a small number of things you can achieve each day.  

Rather than being overwhelmed and procrastinate, simplify and focus on achieving three things each day.  Create smaller, realistic measurable goals that feel easier to achieve.

James Clear talks about how to stop procrastinating using the 2-minute rule. 

Explore the obstacles that cause you to procrastinate and stop you taking action.  Then lay out a strategy and first action step you can take to overcome that obstacle.   

If you want to stop procrastinating, cut your bigger goals into enough projects and action steps that feel achievable to eliminate the fear you may feel just getting started.

7. Cut back your to-do list

Procrastination happens when we have too much in our minds and too many things to do.  We’re not clear where to focus out time and energy so we procrastinate,  The antidote to procrastination is having a small number of goals to work towards. 

When you have a smaller number of goals you can reduce your to-do list.   A long to-do list without clear priorities causes us to procrastinate.  Simplifying your to-do list to three or four key tasks will free up your energy and focus.  

If left unchecked, the whirlwind of activity in your mind and life will constantly distract you from reaching your goals, and cause you to procrastinate.  

This procrastination creates more and more complexity which means it harder to get clarity on your next step to take.

The key to learn how to stop procrastinating is to simplify, and then simplify some more.

8. Create more accountability

One of the best ways to stop procrastinating is to get some more accountability.  When you feel confused, isolated or powerless it can be difficult to have clarity on where you should spend your time and what you should do next.

Accountability is essential for goal success and to help you stop procrastinating.

This accountability comes in a number of forms – peer group, fiends, accountability partner, mastermind group, mentor or coach.

The bottom line is, if you’re a regular procrastinator, you need someone who will hold you accountable without succumbing to any excuses.

This could be a business coach, mentor or accountability partner.

The purpose of the accountability partner is to act as a sounding board, to push you and motivate you, to remind you of the road you set out on, and why getting over the finish line will be worth it.  This clarity creates confidence which stops procrastination.

If you want to learn how to stop procrastinating, identify an exciting project, find an accountability partner and take that first step on starting that project now.

Conclusion

When we procrastinate it’s often because we know we should be doing something or shouldn’t be doing something else.  Procrastination can cause us to feel stuck, trapped and overwhelmed if we let it. 

If you procrastinate, the tips I’ve shared will help you simplify your time, energy and focus so you can start taking action on what’s most important in your business and life and help you learn how to stop procrastinating on the things that aren’t.

Now I’d love to hear from you.

What one thing cause you to procrastinate the most? 

Which one tip that I’ve shared today will you implement first to help you learn how to stop procrastinating?

Let me know in the comments.

Procrastination articles

Still procrastinating? 5 ways to overcome procrastination

How to defeat perfectionism: 4 simple ways

Overwhelmed at work? 7 Strategies to beat stress

5 Ways to Leverage Time to Increase Productivity 

About the Author

Mark Pettit is a small business coach to business owners who want to simplify their time, energy and focus so they can multiply their freedom, impact and results. 

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