6 Strategies for Overcoming Procrastination
I am a perfectionist.
Ouch! That actually hurts to write out loud.
By admitting that to you I am admitting that I don't have it all together. And the fact that I even struggle to admit that to you is proof that I am, in fact, a perfectionist.
"Perfectionism is not about striving for excellence or healthy striving," Brown told Oprah. "It's...a way of thinking and feeling that says this: 'If I look perfect, do it perfect, work perfect and live perfect, I can avoid or minimize shame, blame and judgment.'"
Today, I finally had to admit to myself that I am struggling to get things finished. I have a long list of things I want to do, one being write this blog post, but find that I keep pushing the "hard" things to the end of my list, making excuses as to why I can't sit down and get going. Waiting to be inspired instead of sitting down and getting work done.
I am a procrastinator. Which is a huge symptom of perfectionism. Ouch again!
The great irony in this is that perfectionism is defined as an intense drive to succeed, it can be the very thing that prevents success. Perfectionism is directly related with the fear of failure (ouch again!), and a self-defeating behavior, such as, you guessed it, excessive procrastination.
Do you ever find yourself stuck, wanting things to be just right and not knowing how to proceed because not knowing exactly what it will end up looking like scares you? Not being able to see the forest for the trees as they say?
I have found that my fear of failure can paralyze me and put me in a constant stance of procrastination. That feeling that not doing it at all is safer than trying and falling flat on my face.
You know the one. The one that holds us captive in the same place and not moving forward. That place stinks. Let's do something about it. It is time to overcome the procrastination and start winning!
Check out these six strategies for overcoming procrastination. Let's do this thing!
1. Know your why.
It is much easier to get yourself to do something you value. It is sometimes hard to connect that simple truth with your procrastination but when you spend a few minutes thinking more deeply about exactly why you want to do it, it will be easier to actually get moving on the task.
2. Start small.
One of the biggest causes of procrastination is that the task seems overwhelming and large. Break it down into smaller bite size tasks and take them one at a time. This will seem less overwhelming and help you to feel the sense of accomplishment as you mark off the smaller tasks. Before you know it, the entire project will be complete and you will feel so accomplished.
3. Set a deadline.
Deadlines, whether set by you or your boss or customer, force you to get things done. An end in sight always makes work easier to accomplish. Tasks tend not to be concrete in you mind without a clearly defined deadline. That lack of clarity causes procrastination. I even find this to be true in my personal life. I am currently training for a half marathon and because I have the deadline of the race set, I am much more likely to get out of bed and head out the door for my runs each day.
4. Done is better than perfect.
Progress over perfection. Striving for perfection has been the death of many brilliant ideas, books, and businesses. Getting something done to 80% of our liking is better than getting nothing done at all. The longer you stare at a blank page or whiteboard, the more difficult the task becomes in your mind. The longer it takes you to get started, the more your internal dialogue works against you. The more this happens, the less likely you are to complete the task or project.
5. Take a walk without thinking.
Interesting idea huh? Kind of the opposite of not procrastinating and getting things done but bare with me here. Do you ever feel like you need to clear your head? Studies have shown that people are more productive and are able to think clearer after mild to medium exercise. Walk and let your mind rest without thinking about your task. Constantly thinking about one task can cause anxiety and overwhelm. Taking a rest will get you to break through your procrastination and work toward your goals. So get up, get outside, and take a nice walk.
6. Get to work.
No matter how many tips, tricks or hacks we come across about overcoming procrastination, they will all end when you sit down and get the work complete. Taking action is the best cure for procrastination and the feelings of insecurity that come along with it. The work is truly the best medicine.
Do you ever struggle with procrastination? What do you do to overcome it? I would love to hear. Leave me a comment and let's chat about it.