When the ups and downs of life get thrown our way, it can be hard to push ourselves to get things done. Answering emails, cleaning the house, exercising, and even making important decisions, can all end up on our list of things to put off for later. Well, you may already recognize where I’m going with this, but I’m talking about procrastination… the silent productivity killer.
And in my time building Mind Movies, I had to learn (very quickly) to adopt new ways of working and thinking to keep procrastination at bay.
That’s why I’d like to share with you my personal tips for success on overcoming procrastination once and for all.
Aim for action, not perfection
If you want to know how to beat procrastination, the key is to just start…and start small. When you are putting off something important, it may be hard to get started because of the worry or doubt that it won’t be perfect. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with hoping for a good outcome, but when we count on perfection, this creates unrealistic expectations that can ultimately get in the way of the process itself.
That’s why I like to just start…and again, start small. When I look at a big project that I know is going to take me many days to complete, the first thing I do is break it up into small, digestible chunks that can be spread out over a certain period of time. This way, it becomes that much easier for me to stay focused and not feel overwhelmed by thinking I have to complete one giant task.
I write each task, even the very small ones, on my to-do list for the day, and start with the ones I know I can complete the quickest. In The Motivation Myth, author, Jeff Haden, discusses the importance of acknowledging small wins and how they keep us motivated and staying in action. When you choose to stay in action, you become less of a procrastinator and more of your own motivator. Moving perfection out of the way and making room to actually start and stay in action is what opens us up to more and even brand new possibilities.
Shift your focus to the big picture
Let’s be honest, overwhelm and doubt can be huge roadblocks when you are trying to figure out how to stop procrastinating. Tackling your to-do list can seem like the end of the world when you just don’t know how to get started. But, when you begin to focus on the big picture or the ultimate reason why things need to get done, you are shifting to a higher vibration where your future self can achieve tasks with focus and ease.
Let’s say you’ve been putting off cleaning up your work area because you just can’t seem to find the time and feel like it’s going to take forever. Instead of looking at that massive pile of papers as a chore, shift your focus to having a more organized and calm work environment, where you can be more productive.
With this kind of mentality, you are conditioning your mind to create healthy habits of not feeling bogged down or anxious when you have lots of things to do. You are prepping yourself for future success. Shifting your focus to seeing the big picture is exactly how you can keep yourself motivated and focused on your goals, no matter how big or small they are.
Mindful meditation is a practice that involves staying in the present moment while suspending judgment of oneself and one’s environment. This practice is one of the most significant ways you can achieve just about anything you set your mind to. So applying mindfulness to those moments when you just can’t seem to press go on tackling your workload can have a shockingly positive impact on productivity.
Mindfulness has been shown to wipe out negative emotions, cut down on stress, and even improve memory. It can be easy for the mind to wander and focus on distracting things, especially when you have a ton of items on your to-do list. So wherever you are, you can use mindfulness to be aware of your surroundings and really shift all of your focus on the task at hand.
Understand that you may fail (and that’s okay)
The fear of failing is one of the biggest reasons why pulling the trigger on important tasks can be so difficult. We often feel in competition with our minds to believe that if we don’t try, then we can’t fail. But understand that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with trying and failing - this is actually all a part of being productive and staying in action as we discussed earlier. When you put off an important task or responsibility because you’re afraid you might fail, you are ultimately preventing yourself from moving forward at all.
So instead of thinking of failure as a potential setback, you can view it as a stepping stone for maneuvering in better and more efficient ways going forward. Perhaps you’ve been putting off a hobby you’ve been wanting to start, and haven’t been able to do so because of the possibility you may not be good at it. Well, as it turns out, you really may not be good at it, but that’s okay :-). But if you never attempt, then you will never know the outcome. So get comfortable with failure, because, at the end of the day, failure can always teach us something new. And learning new things is always productive.
Visualize yourself already having completed your tasks
When we can picture the moment when we have completed our tasks, you are essentially reprogramming your mind to see that you can accomplish anything. Whether you have or have yet to check that stubborn item off of your list, by visualizing already having completed it, your brain really can’t tell the difference. I always like to take a moment before jumping into a new task to picture myself already done with it. When you mentally put yourself ahead of the curve, you kickstart the task and your mind toward completion.
When you know you have many things to accomplish but are able to see the light at the end of the tunnel in the form of self-indulgence, it’s a great way to keep that spark or fire alive to combat procrastination. Whether it’s a slice of chocolate cake or night out with friends, reward yourself with something that’s personal to you and don’t forget to reflect on how good it feels to get things done.
So I hope you enjoyed these tips to help overcome procrastination and are able to apply them right away. And one thing you must also pay attention to is whether the procrastination you are experiencing is tied to your subconscious mind. You see, it’s possible there are subconscious blocks that could be draining you of the energy and motivation to thrive.
So reserve yourself a seat to my free online workshop, where I will be joined by world-renowned life coach and motivational speaker, Mary Morrissey, discussing the blocks that could be holding us back from our greatest life.
Go here now to reserve your spot, and I’ll see you there where we can tackle procrastination together!
Natalie Ledwell is a best selling author, speaker and successful entrepreneur. She's passionate about helping others to achieve their greatest dreams and ambitions through her personal development programs and her online TV show, The Inspiration Show.