3 Tips To See Success And Overcome Procrastination
Today I want to share my thoughts with you about procrastination and why we don't get things done.
Have you ever found yourself with a long list of things to do on any given day, and at the end of the day you find out that many of those things didn't get done?
You probably spent the day doing other things that weren't as important, or maybe doing not much at all.
I'm sure you have. We all have. I have, too. I admit it.
Some days it's like you spend the whole day trying to jam five pounds of clothes into a suitcase that only holds two pounds. Naturally some of those clothes are going to fall out. But then you find out later that you needed a sweater, or whatever, that didn't make it into your suitcase. Now what?
The day only has so many hours in it. And you're certainly not going to change the time it takes for the planet to go around the sun. What you can do instead is change your life habits and how you maximize the time you do have to get the right things done.
But in order to do that, you have to crush procrastination. And you have to do it today, not tomorrow.
Procrastination is a complex psychological thing that we all do. You put off certain tasks, for whatever reason, and do instead the things that you find more enjoyable or comfortable.
That's what procrastination is all about really, comfort.
But the strange thing about procrastination is that what seems comfortable now can lead to even more uncomfortable problems down the road.
I used to say to myself a lot, "Well, I'll just do it tomorrow." And I'd say this over and over again until tomorrow became a whole week. Then, before I knew it, a week turned into a month. That "it" never got done, because tomorrow never actually arrives. You can spend the rest of your life pushing things until tomorrow.
I see this happen a lot with people's health and wellness issues. People avoid doing the things they know they need to get done. Maybe they need to get on the treadmill or eat better or lose some weight. "I'll start tomorrow," they tell themselves.
The problem is that we all know that good habits are harder to start later on in life. And that the more you let yourself go, the harder it will be to get back on that healthy track.
In that particular case, you'd be letting your behavior ruin your life. And now you find yourself somewhere in the exact opposite of comfort.
How exactly does that happen?
I'm going to review three main points and help you on your way to getting rid of procrastination.
We'll look at the importance of consistency when defeating procrastination. You'll learn how to pace yourself while starting good habits and why that's important. And finally, I'll help you weigh the good outcomes versus the bad ones in your struggle to get things done.
By the end, you'll see that you have the tools to get started, pace yourself, and get consistent in your fight with procrastination.
The key to gaining control over you and your bad habit of procrastination is to be consistent in your life and have a good follow through. Once you get your train to run consistently and on time, it will be harder for you to go back to any unhealthy habits.
No less than Jerry Seinfeld, one of the greatest comedians of all-time, has said that what most contributed to his success was consistency. One of the things that he does is to look at the calendar for the entire year as he sets out to write his jokes. He writes jokes and works on his act every single day and then he tries to string those productive days in a chain.
He gets that consistency going. He gets a string of good days put together. And in putting together days, now he has weeks, and finally months of hard work and good content.
Now in my world, one of the things I've always wanted to do, to help out my body, is to work the treadmill that sits in my house. I used to look at that thing and really get mad at myself for not getting on it more.
I wanted to get some consistency going, hop on it more often, and really get that string of workouts going.
I literally had to put all of my gym clothes on the floor, in the middle of my room, between the bed and the door so I couldn't avoid seeing them. By looking at those workout clothes, I would be reminded that I had absolutely no excuse to walk past them. I used that visual cue to remind myself that today was an essential day to keep the chain going, to get the train moving.
I even know of people who have to go to sleep in their gym clothes the night before so they make sure that they work out! So I starting doing this, too. That way, all I had to do when I woke up the next day was to roll out of bed, put on my shoes, and go get on that treadmill.
I'm lucky because I have a treadmill in my house, but you can just as easily go to the gym or even walk around your block. Whatever your goal is, you need to set yourself up to make consistency an easy habit to create. Make it easy on yourself and arrange the things in your life however you'd like.
It's always a challenge to think of other ways to make it easy on myself with something like avoiding sweets. If you love sweets, like I do, keep them out of your cupboards is what I'd say to you. But for me it's really hard because I now have two young boys and one of them loves his fruit snacks. I like them, too.
But no matter what strategy you might put in place, it's really about discipline. How do you get those good habits going over the long run?
The first step is to realize that Rome wasn't built in a day. And neither are good habits. They begin with a first step, but it will take much more than that first step to get procrastination out of your life.
It's not about doing everything all at once. That's the path to failure. Turn your plan into a multi-step process that will be easier to do, especially at first.
What does that mean?
It means rather than facing down your entire challenge, break it down into smaller, manageable steps. Pace yourself, like you would in a marathon. You can't go charging at the problem in one attack. You'll tire yourself out and leave no energy for the follow-through.
Instead, break it down in order to conquer your procrastination. Remember, procrastination will look for something more comfortable. And the enormity of any task that you look at in its entirety will be an easy excuse for your mind to look for something else to do.
Let's say you're trying to read more. Well you won't be able to read a novel in one sitting. But if you start small, maybe by reading ten or fifteen pages a day, you can get your momentum going. And you can more easily get that consistency going by doing your task at the same time every day. Maybe you commute to work on the train and can read then. Or maybe you can carve out some time for reading in bed right before you go to sleep. Get those small manageable pages going, and before you know it, you'll finish an entire book.
Breaking it down into smaller steps will get you the results you want and will make you feel good because you accomplished something that day in smaller units. You don't have to wait until the end to feel like you've done something. Just getting into that first, then second, then third step, is an accomplishment in itself.
By not looking at the enormity of your task, you focus on the process not the goal. You can avoid feeling overwhelmed. Because if you start to feel overwhelmed, you'll use that as an excuse to not do the task at hand.
Let's say you want to eat healthier food to lose weight, for example. If you tell yourself, "I'm going to eat healthy for a month", that's a lot of pressure to put on yourself. Start small instead. Start with two days of eating healthy. That you can handle for sure.
After your two days, work on getting three days of healthy meals in you. Then five... and on and on. Before you know it, you'll have 20 or 21 days in a row! That's three whole weeks!
There's a reason why many cleanses are 21 days long. It's been said that a habit can be created in 21 days. Remember, it's about the process. You've got to keep focused on that task that you're doing every single day because your accomplishment is how you've thrown aside procrastination.
Don't stop and assess, just keep going. Don't weigh yourself on that first day. That's about the very worst thing you can do. That's your mind looking for any reason to stop the habit that you're trying to develop. Don't give it any reason! The fact that you've eaten healthy is a reward enough!
Weigh yourself after 21 days or even 30. Do the consistent work that you know you're capable of, but also don't beat yourself up if you fall short of your goal. Remember, it's the process that matters. Trust that you can master the process. Trust that you can master getting things done.
If, for whatever reason, a donut happens to land in your mouth and you accidentally chew it... and you swallow... and you love it... that's okay, too. Just start over. But pace yourself. Remember the process.
So to string consistency together is the tried and true method for defeating procrastination. But sometimes motivation, or lack thereof, can be a big obstacle to getting the ball rolling.
It's amazing how a life experience stays with you and, for me, I will always remember the papers that I had to write in school. I DREADED the process of writing a paper. Each one seemed like a huge mountain I couldn't climb, no matter the subject or topic.
Then I remember a thing that Tony Robbins said. "You either do things to avoid pain or gain pleasure, and the reason to avoid pain is usually stronger than to gain pleasure."
Let me tell you, for me, the process of writing my school papers was a very real pain to me. I could swear that it was physical. It was all I could think of, the agony of sitting down and writing something that I'm sure I had built up in my head far worse than what was being asked of me.
I wouldn't want to write my papers until the last moment. And I did this all the time. It was all so painful to even think about that I shoved it out of my mind until I couldn't any longer, usually the night before the papers would be due.
So now, it's the night before the professor expects the paper and I realize, if I don't do this I'll get an F on this particular assignment.
Finally the motivation kicked in and there I am, drinking coffee all night, writing that thing that I should've done all along. I should've linked the greater pain of getting an F sooner. That way, I would have started writing with plenty of time, which was something that I knew I had to do all along anyway.
Once I entered the business world, doing any sort of marketing or sales, this is what I told myself to go after any prospective leads: "If I don't go and talk to new people, drumming up prospects, then I won't get any sales, and I won't get any money."
It's that simple.
No money means no food, and no money to pay bills. Those are kind of important. No money also means having nothing to pay when the rent or the mortgage is due. And not having a home, a place of my own, is a really big deal. You better believe I went out and got those sales.
So I drew a direct link between the pain of being homeless all the way to that desire to meet new people and create new sales. Then I activated those steps that I outlined above. I started with small steps, a call or two a day, and got a consistent routine going.
If you can find that thing that you want to avoid, whatever pain that is in your life, you can use that to motivate you and overcome procrastination.
Hey, we can all find something in our lives that we're unhappy with. Our bank accounts aren't where they need to be. Our goals at work aren't being met. Our waistlines are out of control.
But every journey, as they say, starts with a single step. And if you attack that journey today, with consistency and a steady pace, you'll overcome that procrastination that's been dogging you and get all the things in your life that needed attention done.