Do It Now: How to Stop Procrastinating

April 17, 2017

“I’ll do it later,” you tell yourself, knowing you should probably get started now.

We’ve all been there. The deadline seems far away, so you spend your time doing other things. But then panic sets in because it’s the night before the due date and you haven’t done anything. Then you’re beating yourself up because you know you should have started earlier. You’d think we’d learn from our mistakes, but no, we do it again and again. And yet, we act surprised every time.

A little procrastination never hurt anybody, but if you’re constantly putting things off and never accomplishing what you intended, then you might have a problem. First, though, it helps to understand why we procrastinate in the first place (although you probably already have an idea!).

Why Do We Procrastinate?

According to Psychology Today, procrastination is linked to our emotions—which is why it often seems so irrational.

As you likely already know, we delay dealing with things we don’t like—that tedious paperwork, the awkward conversation with a co-worker—and instead opt to feel good now by avoiding the hard stuff. You know, the mentality of “we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.” Essentially, we self-sabotage, giving ourselves—and others—weak excuses such as “I work best under pressure,” or making vague promises like “I’ll do it later.” We also distract ourselves by checking our email or social media every.5.seconds (Is that just me?)!

Basically, procrastination means that we lie to ourselves just to avoid the negative feeling that comes with doing that dreaded task. Think about it: self-deception goes hand in hand with procrastination every time.

Thankfully, there is a way to get over this bad habit!

Stopping Procrastination Through Goal Setting

1. Break it Down, Way Down!

When facing challenging tasks, we tend to become overwhelmed by all we have to do to accomplish them, so instead we do nothing. One way to stop this tendency is to trick yourself into overcoming that negative feeling that comes with performing these daunting tasks—or at least to make them more manageable.

For example, instead of putting “write business plan” on your to-do list, put “write the introduction to business plan.” Writing only the introduction is certainly less intimidating, and it’s also a step towards the end goal—the full business plan. Plus, you get to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment, no matter how small the task.

Add subsequent smaller tasks to your schedule, breaking them up into manageable pieces and spreading them across a few days (or weeks, depending on how big the overall project is), and you’ll be done in no time!

2. What’s Your Plan?

Breaking down tasks is great, but without an action plan, you’ll just come up with excuses to “do it later.” Having a plan isn’t foolproof, but it definitely goes a long way. For example, if you’ve been meaning to clean out your garage and have broken down the tasks involved, your plan could be to spend one hour every day after work getting rid of things you don’t use, starting from the back left corner of the garage, working your way towards the front. Your plan should be specific and actionable, laying out the starting point, all the steps involved, the allotted duration of the project, and the timeline for completion.

Just as you wouldn’t go into a business meeting without preparing, you should prepare for achieving all your other goals—no matter how big or small—by putting a plan in place now. At least it will help you feel more prepared, making the overarching task less daunting.

3. Reward Yourself

Let’s be honest, goal achieving is great, but sometimes getting something done is not reward enough. What you need is additional motivation. Remember when you were a kid and were told that if you cleaned your room you could get ice cream? Well, that works as an adult too!

Say you’re self-employed and you have something due in one week. You decide to put in the work (smaller tasks with an action plan) from Monday to Thursday and give yourself Friday and the weekend off. That way, you can actually enjoy your weekend instead of doing everything in a panic on Sunday night. Four days of work for 3 days off is definitely worth the effort. A guilt-free weekend? Now that’s something to look forward to!

How to Stop Procrastinating? Just Start!

When it comes to procrastination, deadlines tend to be our saving grace. But what happens when there is no deadline, when there isn’t a boss screaming at you to get things done? That business you’ve always wanted to start (I know you have a great idea in there somewhere!) is waiting on you and you alone.

If you’re not careful, one day you’ll wake up and realize you haven’t achieved any of your goals—business or otherwise. Getting started is often the hardest part. But once you do start, it’s easier to keep going.

Procrastination is the thief of time, so stop waiting for the “perfect time” to get started and just do it now!

Are you ready to stop procrastinating and finally start your own business? Our business mentors will teach you how to build a successful business that puts you in the driver’s seat of your life. Contact us at (858) 837-1505 or for more information.

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