Procrastination can get us all

We’ve all been there – procrastination central. There’s a task that hangs out in the back of our mind for weeks; the idea of it makes us uncomfortable, even stressed, and so we ignore it. We come up with a million internal (and sometimes external) justifications for why we haven’t quite got to it and become masters of filling our time with other things. Procrastination can get to us all, even the most self-disciplined among us. Keep reading for some key steps to owning the discomfort and potentially difficulty of the situation, and smashing your procrastination tendencies to get the job DONE!

Step 1: Be aware

Figure yourself out and own it. Identify why this particular task is causing you pause. Listen to your internal monologue – what’s important to you, what motivates you? Spend time deciding what your goals are and WHY you want to achieve them It’s much easier to tackle any task if you know what you’re personally getting out of it. Make yourself a list, because we challenge you to find anyone who isn’t a little bit motivated by a tick on a list!

young business man corporate executive procrastinating sitting on a chair in the open air outdoors

Step 2: Plan

Plan your tasks, and the time to complete them, in advance. Give yourself the space to achieve, keep it realistic and don’t sell yourself short on what you need to get it done. Spend a few minutes thinking about what you want to achieve next time you sit down to work, and how you will get started. Physical space? Uninterrupted time? Additional resources or information? Snacks and a head clearing walk before you start? Have a brainstorm or brain dump! Re-read some notes. Organise your materials. Tidy your desk. Whatever it is, schedule it in and own it as part of the task.

Step 3: Tolerate discomfort

No one said it was going to be fun, or enjoyable in any way. Sit with that, accept it, deal with it and embrace it. In saying that, if you can find a way to make it more palatable, DO IT. Let yourself listen to music or a podcast while cleaning, light a relaxing candle while you study. There are no rules – make your own!

A young happy college female student sitting at the table at home, using tablet and headphones when studying procrastination busting

Step 4: Reframe your thinking

When you are tempted to give up, take a minute to check what caused you to lose energy or get stuck. If you can identify that you are avoiding a particular aspect of the task, problem-solve a way of approaching it.  Forcing yourself to spend another 5 minutes before taking a break could be all the time you need to push through the obstacle.  Remember Step 1 – identify your motivation, and remind yourself why you’re doing this in the first place!

 Step 5: Implement practical strategies

It could be controversial to raise this one… But we’re going to tackle it. You may need to ASK FOR HELP. We know, we know, you are strong and independent and intelligent and all that jazz. We’re telling you now – strong, independent, intelligent people know when they need help. Find someone who you trust and allow yourself to rely on them from time to time!

If a task seems overwhelmingly big, try what’s called the ‘Swiss Cheese Approach’. Make holes in the task until it seems smaller – every little action helps towards the outcome! Break down the task into small, achievable parts – this could be the number of words written, rooms of the house to clean, number of baskets of washing to fold… whatever is applicable!

There’s also the obvious ones, like turning off your email notifications, putting your phone in another room, and asking your family to leave the house for a few hours if they can. Set yourself up for success and remove distractions wherever you can!

Step 6: Motivate and encourage yourself

Make a physical (or imaginative) chart of your progress/achievements. Give yourself a gold star or any reward that makes you hungry for it… Hmmm, hungry. Chocolate is always a good option here! In the same vein, you can make a contract with yourself for something bigger – finish the task and go out for dinner with a friend, finish your degree and book a holiday. Whatever works for you! You can also embrace the ‘many hands make light work’ concept and find a friend. Friends or family members who are active and get things done can be really motivational, whether they specifically help you with your task or not. Surround yourself with go-getters and try to keep up!

Closeup of creative business team working on design project focus on table with roadmap and colorful stickie notes, copy space

Step 7: Reflect and revise

When you’ve managed to successfully bust your procrastination and you’ve finished celebrating a job well done – don’t forget to reflect on how you got there! Knowing what works for you next time could be a real time saver. Embrace your mistakes and give yourself permission to be less than perfect – it’s the most important way to learn about yourself and improve going forward.

If you’re looking for inspiration, The Westport Club is full of ways to reward yourself – book yourself dinner at Aqua for something to look forward to or enjoy a spur of the moment drink with friends in Jimmy’s Bar and Lounge to celebrate a milestone achievement. Whatever makes you feel special and celebrated, we’ve got it happening right here at Port Macquarie’s favourite Club. That view is inspiration in itself!