ADMIT IT. ARE YOU A PROCRASTINATOR?
How many hours…days…weeks have you wasted thinking about and planning what you’re going to do when you finally get around to it?
How many times have you said to yourself, “I should have done that yesterday…or last year?” How many times have you beat yourself up for being so far behind?
Well, first of all, stop beating yourself up. Because dwelling on the past (which often goes hand in hand with procrastinating) will not help you move forward.
And secondly, take a deep breath. I’m going to help you move forward…with 5 simple steps that will help you break that procrastination cycle once and for all, and finally get shitz done!
And not just any shitz, the important shitz!
Enough of this shitz. Let’s go!
5 Simple Steps to Quit Procrastinating
1. Simplify Your To-Do List
If you’ve got ten, or even six or seven things on your list each day, girl…you’re just crazy! No offense. Been there. Done that. Still have to remind myself not to do that!
It’s like we’ve all gotten this idea (women especially) that the busier we are the more productive and successful we are.
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong!
You know that the only thing that long list is doing is S-T-R-E-S-S-I-N-G you out!
And making you feel like a failure when you haven’t checked off all those boxes by the end of the day. Because no matter how badass you are (and you are) there’s just no way you can accomplish everything on that list.
Think about it. Most tasks require several mini-tasks in order to complete the main task. That can take up one, two, three hours or more of your day, on just one task!
Then there’s all the other stuff you didn’t plan for that pops up at any given moment. And that’s on top of your regular non-task related stuff. You know… eating, bathing, getting dressed, driving, cooking, cleaning, working, spending time with your family.
See how busy you are!
That’s why the first and most important step is, trimming your list to just 3 tasks per day, max! That’s right, per DAY.
No matter how much you think you “need” to get done in one day, I challenge you to commit to no more than three things per day. And honestly, for some of you – especially if you’ve been known to procrastinate for weeks and months at a time – one or two tasks per day is probably all you can handle, at least for now.
2. Prioritize Your List
Now that you’ve got your list down to 3 items, you must prioritize what you will tackle first. Begin with the task that is most important to you, NOT the most urgent.
Yes, I know it sounds counter productive, but hear me out.
Well actually, hear Steven Pressfield out. This is his concept, from his book The War of Art, and as soon as I read it, I instantly got it!
And once I began applying it to my own life, I was amazed by how well it worked at helping me accomplish all the important things in my life, while eliminating the burnout I used to feel trying to keep up with all the urgent things on my long list.
So listen up! Because this is really good. Even my girl Maria Forleo talks about it on her site. #kindredspirits
So here’s the concept: Things that are urgent always find a way of getting done, because they need to get done.
But things that are important to us, and actually add value to our lives often get put on the back burner for a later date, ultimately leaving you feeling unfilled and frustrated with our quality of your life.
Urgent tasks VS Important tasks: Important tasks are tied to your personal goals and dreams. ?
Urgent tasks, on the other hand, are typically tied to other people’s goals, and in fact usually aren’t urgent at all; they just feel that way. Things like replying to emails (even work emails), answering texts, and social media. All of those things can feel urgent…like, “Let me just get this out of the way and then I’ll get to the other stuff.”
So when you make your list, mark your items urgent or important, and move the important items to the top of the list. No exceptions, ever!
Here’s what my list looks like today. My most important tasks are tied to the work I do and love. But you’ll also notice that a couple work things aren’t important to me; they’re just necessary. They fall under my urgent section at the bottom of my list, because I know I’ll get to them…just not before I do the real work of getting my content out to my important readers…you! ?
Now that I’ve had a lot of practice, I actually allow myself up to 5 tasks on some days. But for now, stick with three. I still find that to be the sweet spot, and the number I fall back on most days.
Also note, if you are still trying to get started on a particular goal, like exercising in the morning, meditating, or cooking (not buying) breakfast, then that task needs to go at the TOP of your list. For instance, when it was still one of my goals, morning yoga was at the top of my list. But now that it’s ingrained in my daily routine, I no longer need to put it on the list.
Your list is for things you will only do if you actually plan for them.
3. Schedule it.
Literally put it on your schedule – your desk calendar, your phone, your laptop, whatever scheduling device you use. And if you don’t use one, now is the time to begin. If you know it will take you at least 60 minutes, block off 75-90 minutes to allow for any unexpected run over time. Once it’s schedule, set a reminder for it. In fact, set several reminders if necessary.
4. Make it happen.
Then, when the time comes, commit to completing your #1 task before you move on to anything else, including your #2 task. No multitasking! Until that first task is complete you must limit all distractions.
For example, find a quiet place to work, shut your door if possible, always silence or turn off your phone, and turn off email and social media notifications. Focus all your attention on the task at hand, while at the same time reminding yourself that it doesn’t need to be perfect to get done, it just needs to get done!
Perfectionism can sometimes be the secret procrastination culprit. Been guilty myself at times. Now I know, that the most perfect task or goal, is the one that I actually accomplish.
Reward yourself for each task completed: take a break, have your favorite gourmet beverage, or soak in the tub. Whatever it is, do something that makes you feel proud of yourself for following through.
Okay, so here’s a quick summary of your action plan:
Make a list of 3 things you want to accomplish tomorrow, and prioritize your list by Important first, urgent last.
Schedule your tasks and set a reminder for them, even if they are not work related, remembering that your personal goals and dreams (important tasks) are more important than any “busy work” or urgent tasks.
Put your plan into action by eliminating all distractions until you fully complete your first task before moving on to the next one. Celebrate by rewarding yourself at the end of each task, or at the end of the day. You’ve earned it!
Procrastination is a mindset issue
If you allow yourself to get overwhelmed at the thought of everything you need to do, you’re often going to avoid doing it. ⠀
But when you learn to prioritize your tasks by important first, urgent later, and you break those tasks down into small actionable steps, then you can shift your perception from one that is challenging to one that is easily attainable, and even inspiring.
So what do you think? Any of this sound like it might help you? Or better yet, do you have any tips that you can share with me and our readers? Please post in the comments, or share this with a friend who could benefit from the guidance.