I am not ashamed to admit that just because I am a Coach there are not times when I am in the depths of procrastination. When I am procrastinating, you'll see me surfing the internet on the pretence I am doing "research", I'll be tidying up my work space at home (this normally only ever happens when the mountain of paperwork is about to collapse) or I'll be outside gardening.
I have learnt I am one of those people who needs to be in the right mood or have firm deadlines, challenges or competition to get something done; especially when there are lots of things to do. In light of this new-found self-awareness, I set a challenge between two coaches to see if we could write 30 blog posts in 30 days throughout the month of April. I said it wasn't a competition, but the lack of a poker face gave it away because in my head, I was turning it into one. As the trailer for the new Avengers movie, Endgame, points out..."Whatever it takes!" Not a Marvel fan? Oops, you should be :-)
I'm a writer when I am in the mood for it, when I get into flow, when an idea pops into my head. Producing useful and quality content requires greater discipline to get into the habit of writing. For some people, they have the internal control and motivation to get things done, sometimes I need those external influences. I can't just rely on whether I am feeling in the mood for it. What about you? When it comes to procrastination, ask yourself, "what's stopping me from taking action?"
It's important to be realistic about what's achievable within the timescales you have. If there is one thing I have learnt, things take longer to do than you think. When I set the 30 blog posts in 30 days, I considered that to be something which would stretch me but at the same time be achievable. A bonus from the challenge before it even started was the planning of it has been more fun than I thought it was going to be, so I am hopeful the next 30 days will continue to be as enjoyable.
I could probably list at least 20 steps to deal with procrastination but if I did that, would you think "woah, that's too many steps to work through, I'll go clean the bathroom or check through my emails again instead?" Therefore, I’ll to cut it down to 5 because I think this is more doable and I am all about making life simpler and easier.
1. Change Your Script: It's time to change the record and stop with the excuses. Recognise we often lie to ourselves; how many times have you told yourself that you're scrolling through your Facebook feed because you want to know what's going on? Understand what's really behind why you are procrastinating? Are you avoiding something out of fear? Are you seeking something out because it is more fun and exciting? Create a narrative in which you are honest with yourself and a script which empowers you to act, there and then and stop with the procrastinating.
2. Give Yourself Permission: Cut yourself some slack and relieve some of the pressure. Often, we put ourselves under so much pressure that this becomes stifling and restrictive. We can't think clearly and rather than taking action, it has the opposite effect, causing us to do nothing at all. This is especially true if you have got lots on at work or you run your own business. You feel you must keep on working all hours to keep up or get ahead, feeling guilty or frustrated if you don't. It is OK to have a break from what you are doing and binge on a Netflix show just for the hell of it.
3. Small Chunks: One of the many reasons we often procrastinate is because the task ahead is too big or arduous and we become overwhelmed. This then leads to inaction which causes us to feel negative emotions such as guilt and frustration, quickly followed by anger at ourselves, maybe spilling over into your interactions with others. To avoid this, break the task or goal down into smaller tasks or actions, making them more manageable and achievable. This 30-day blog challenge reflects this point nicely, if I do say so myself.
4. Reconnect with Your Why: Sometimes it is easy to lose sight of the why behind our end goal. Remember and focus on your why, not just the immediate task ahead. Whilst you might have chunked down your tasks to make them more manageable, draw energy and motivation from your bigger picture. Reconnect with your why to give you the push you need during the times of procrastination.
5. Find an Accountability Partner: The one thing that got this 30-blog challenge off the ground was having someone to hold me to account each day and vice versa. Furthermore, I also declared my intention to other people. My husband has asked me 3 times today if I have written the blog yet, so I know he isn't going to let me off the hook. I suppose the more people I tell of my intention, the more determined I am to complete the challenge. If you find yourself stuck in a never-ending cycle of procrastination, find your accountability partner, declare your deadlines and highlight your intentions. Follow through with your declaration and then bask in the glory of getting the job done!