September 22, 2014

Ways to Overcome Procrastination

This past weekend I attended my local Public Speakers Association monthly event. The Speaker of the Month spoke about Procrastination. I really enjoyed his presentation because it made me think about procrastination in a different way and gave me strategies on breaking through this time thief.

The speaker told us that no one wakes up in the morning and plans to procrastinate. We all jump out of bed with plans to be productive and get things done. Procrastination shows up when we enter the room, or sit down at our desk, or grab the lawn mower. He went on to tell us that procrastination does not really exist. What is happening is the moment we get ready to do "the thing" an experience or feeling triggers in our mind that is unpleasant and that memory is what's preventing us from doing "the thing." If that is the case then we are not procrastinating we are resisting. Procrastination equals resistance.

So let's talk about some ways to breakthrough resistance so we can be productive and continue to move towards our goals and dreams.

  1. Gain clarity. If you are not really clear on what you want and why you want it you will not be committed to achieving it. Do you really want to mow the lawn, or do you want the sight of a well manicured lawn with a thriving garden. One that your neighbors will give you compliments on. Knowing your "whys" will motivate you to achieve your goals.
  2. Examine you fear. If there is something you want to achieve and you keep finding excuses to not achieve it there is something you are fearful of. It may be that people won't take you seriously or that you may fail or, worse, you may succeed and then have to do it again and do it bigger. Discovering the cause of your fear will allow you work on overcoming it so you can move forward to achieve your goals.
  3. Develop processes and strategies. Many people stay in resistance and swim in procrastination because the task seems too daunting. They do not know where to start or what to do. It is important to have a process to follow and to follow it religiously. If you want to write The Great American Novel make it part of your process to write every day. It doesn't matter what you write as long as you write every day and make it a habit.
  4.  Place a higher value on "the thing." You may think "the thing" is a good idea, will help you and/or add value to your life, and you should do but until you make it a must you will not take consistent action on achieving it. Think about it, do you perform regular maintenance on your car (oil changes, tire rotations, engine tuneups, etc.) or do you just do it before a long trip or when your car needs to pass inspection?
  5. Just do it! Nike's slogan has a great point. Sometimes you just need to put away the excuses and "man up." Occasionally, we all must do things we do not like. We all need to get those sweaty hugs from Aunt Esther on holiday dinners. Getting things done sometimes means just plowing through the not so fun stuff.

Remember that procrastination doesn't really exist. It is simply resistance dressed in a fancy costume. And we all know from Star Trek that "Resistance is Futile!" so why not just dive in to the activities  of the present moment and achieve your goals.

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