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How to Stop Procrastinating: Break through your own resistance!

We all have those tasks. The ones that need to get done but manage to sink down to the bottom of the list every day. Whether it’s scheduling an uncomfortable conversation with your boss or doing taxes, there’s never quite enough time, or you don’t think of it until right at 5:00, or you really should dust off your desk first, and maybe vacuum….

I get it. You mean to get it done! The intention is there, but some habits are keeping you from just doing the thing. Before you know it, it’s November and you still haven’t taken down last year’s Mardi Gras decorations. (Maybe that’s just me.)

Alas, procrastination only flies for so long. Whether you realize it or not, you’re weighing yourself down every hour that you put off that big responsibility that’s haunting your day planner. If you really think about it, it can cause anxiety and for some, even depression.

So, here are some tips you can start using today – not tomorrow! – to stop procrastinating and relieve that constant, nagging stress.

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  • Give yourself a due date.

It’s easy to dump all of your reminders into one long list where they patiently wait until you have “free time,” which in my case, last occurred in June of 2007. That system’s better than nothing, but you’re not holding yourself accountable.

Instead, get out your calendar and assign a day and time for each of the tasks you’ve been putting off. Estimate how long each one will realistically take and plan that time into your day. I love the concept of White Space – tacking on some extra time for tasks. You literally add on an extra 15 minutes for whatever task you’re trying to accomplish. That way, you’re not overscheduling yourself, which can lead to stress and more procrastination. Plus, it gives you time for unexpected things (traffic, a setback, something being more difficult than you originally anticipated, etc.). 

Set reminders on your phone – and DO NOT multitask. It is unproductive, causes things to take much longer, and leaves room for error. Focus on the one project at hand.

Creating due dates might seem like a small step, but you’ll feel compelled to finally get it done now that you have a firm deadline.

  • Take on the worst task first.

This is a tactic that was made popular by Brian Tracy in his book Eat That Frog, which is devoted to the cause of ending procrastination. By forcing yourself to do your one most dreaded obligation before your second cup of coffee, everything else you have to do throughout the day will seem easy.

Plus, you won’t have the shadow of that responsibility hanging over your head.

  • Remind yourself of the end goal.

Sometimes you just need to envision how good it will feel when you finally cross that one thing off your list. How will it affect other aspects of your life? How much of your valuable time and energy have you already spent dwelling on this one responsibility? Envision your feeling of accomplishment when you delete that line off your calendar once and for all.

If you still feel overwhelmed, or you’ve convinced yourself that you can’t do it: you can. And a personal affirmations program might be just what you need to feel more positive, motivated, and prepared to take on your day.

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  • Break one big goal into smaller goals.

You know what needs to be done, but you keep putting it off for another day because you just don’t have time. It’ll take four hours start to finish, and you haven’t even found 5 minutes to heat up your lunch yet.

So make the big task smaller.

Break that monster down into smaller steps that are easy to take on one at a time. Make a plan and write out the smaller sub-goals, which gives you the satisfaction of crossing them out and seeing your progress.

  • Make one move and get started.

Breaking through procrastination is not as difficult as it seems. Once you make a step towards accomplishing that task, you actually get into flow. The hardest part is taking that first step towards turning on the computer or getting in the car to go to the gym. Once you turn that computer on to start your project, you realize you’re in flow. Once you get into the car to go to the gym, you’re on the way! Have you have ever heard of the Mel Robbin’s Five Second Rule? I love it, and I use it quite often with my clients. It’s incredibly effective.

“When you feel yourself hesitate before doing something that you know you should do, count 5-4-3-2-1-GO and move towards action. There is a window that exists between the moment you have an instinct to change and your mind killing it. It’s a 5 second window. And it exists for everyone.” – Mel Robbins

  • Get yourself an accountability partner.

There’s a reason why sports teams work out together, even off the field. There’s just something motivating about having someone watch you and count down the reps. It makes you go a little further than you thought you could.

That concept of an accountability partner goes beyond athletics. Try telling a friend, co-worker or family member about this one thing that you just can not bring yourself to do. (Chances are they have some project of their own and can relate all too well). Tell them what day you’re going to get it done and make it official. Or, better yet, hire a Coach, like me! I love working on helping clients be accountable – not to me, but themselves.

Even my most ambitious, self-driven clients find that they accomplish more when they have someone at their side, checking in and supporting their goals. If you think you could benefit from an accountability partner, here are some of the questions you should ask yourself to see if you’re ready.

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  • Allow yourself to be less than perfect.

Are you one of those people who has high expectations for yourself in every aspect of your life? That’s a powerful instinct that’s probably responsible for a whole host of achievements. But it can also be crippling.

If there’s one responsibility that you’ve been putting off, it might be time to accept that you just need to get it done – even if it’s not perfect. I, for example, hate ironing – so sometimes, my husband’s pants are less than perfect. And that is ok.

If you find that you’re waiting for just the right time, or you stop yourself midway through because you’re convinced it could be done better – you’re holding yourself back. Allow yourself to do what you need to and move on.

  • Don’t beat yourself up.

Everyone faces this same challenge. There will always be times when you have to overcome your own resistance. Don’t dwell on it. Just accept that you’re human, and you have the tools you need to change. You’ll get there! We ALL go through this.

You can alter your procrastination habit. You just need to take some time for introspection and figure out the why behind why your goals are important and exactly what’s keeping you from accomplishing your them.

And if you need a little support along the way and procrastination is truly holding you back from your Exquisite Life, I am here for you. Let’s chat!