5 ways to stop procrastinating and get things done – now!

young woman working from home, using her laptop on the floor

Article by Mary Cushen

Procrastination is the silent killer of action.

It’s always shows up uninvited and can last months if you don’t fight it off. Identifying it is procrastination is the first step but after that, it’s about taking action to move forward without increasing the stress or overwhelm.

Keep a journal

Every evening between 30 minutes and an hour before going to bed, take everything out of your mind and write in down. Don’t worry about it making sense or writing full sentences. Instead, focus on taking all the thoughts out of your head. This releases your mind and allows you to have a good night’s sleep, leaving you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world the next day.

Don’t waste those thoughts though. The next morning, go through your journal and take note of anything important, notice any patterns and recognise the emotion in the writing.

Prioritise your work

Each week, look at the tasks you need to complete.
–       Will they move you closer to your goal?
–       Do they have to be done this week?
–       Do you need to do the task, or should you delegate it?

Even just asking yourself these three questions you are removing items that either are not required, don’t move you in the right direction or don’t need you to do it. When we look at delegating work, take your skill level into consideration. If you are not a tech lover and you need to build a sales page, it would be more proactive to outsource or delegate it to someone with those skills instead of trying to fumble your way through it.

Trying to do something that you are not skilled in will increase your level of procrastination. If you want to learn it, great. But choosing to learn it as you need one is not the best plan. Handover this time and put it on your list for next time.

Plan your week ahead

When you know what you need to do the week ahead and you have prioritised your tasks, plan out when the task is going to be completed. Look at each item and estimate how long it will take to complete. The more you do a task, the more accurate your estimate will be.

Plan your day in 1–2-hour slots. It’s enough time to get into a task and not too long that you lose focus. Leave time in between your slots to reflect on what you have done and clear your mind for the next task. If you don’t stop and move straight to the next task, your mind starts to become over-worked, overwhelmed and confused. It’s a bit like multi-tasking – it doesn’t work.

Plan your week ahead before the start of the week ahead. If you leave it to the morning of day one, you lose valuable time and have no focus. Procrastination breeds where focus lacks.

Make the most of your time

There is no point setting your tasks in 1-2-hour slots with a break in between if you do not make the most of it. Make sure you only spend the allotted time on each task. I use the Forest app to set my time. Not only does it grow a beautiful tree on my phone, but it stops me being interrupted.

When you finish a slot, spend five minutes reviewing the outcome. Did you achieve what you planned? Did you remain focused throughout?

Next spend five minutes clearing your mind. I find short mediations useful for this. You could just sit somewhere quietly and listen to the sounds around you. Once you are relaxed, take a five-minute break, refill your drink, and get ready for your next task.

Remember why you are doing it

Times will get tough. It doesn’t matter if you are a start-up or well-seasoned professional, it is never always plain sailing. Sometimes procrastination creeps in because what we need to do is hard; it’s outside our comfort zone. To get through it, you need to dig deep and find the passion.

–       Why are you aiming for this goal?
–       What makes it so important for you to achieve it?
–       How will you feel if it’s right in front of you, but you cannot reach out, past the uncertainty?

Risks are part of life. We all take risks every day without even realising it. Even walking down the stairs is a risk but, as we do it every day, hopefully without any accidents, our brain processes it differently. The first time you do anything, you will have the fear. The reason you are doing something is what will either push you through it or hold you back. Make sure your reason for your goal is linked to an emotion and something important to you.

Don’t let procrastination hold you back. Be clear on your goal, understand your abilities and take your passion to the next level.    

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