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Did you know many of us spend up to three hours a day procrastinating? That becomes 45 days a year and 450 days (64 weeks) in 10 years.
In other words, you could lose one year every decade to procrastination.
What goal or dream could you achieve in that one year if you could only stop that sneaky time thief?
Let’s be honest: All of us procrastinate. We put off things we know we need to do, like starting important projects and knocking out simple tasks.
But let’s also be clear that the kind of procrastination we’re talking about is that which keeps us from living a more prosperous, fuller life. Delaying taking out the trash won’t impact our lives significantly but delaying making an important business or medical decision could have immense implications.
Why do we procrastinate?
Contrary to popular beliefs, it is usually not because we are lazy. Procrastination is often due to an underlying feeling that taking action will cause discomfort if we act on it.
Our brain is trying to protect us from the pain of failing and hardship, or even a feeling of vulnerability. Without realizing it, we attempt to avoid this discomfort by choosing to do nothing, even though we know we’re wasting time or delaying the inevitable.
So how do we stop procrastinating?
Follow these three steps to kick procrastination to the curb:
1. Start by understanding some basic facts about procrastination:
Procrastination is habit-forming — the more we do it, the easier it becomes.
Procrastination tends to make a task seem larger than it is. The more we put off a task, the more intimidating it becomes.
Endlessly thinking about doing something can become its own way of avoiding it.
2. Recognize procrastination warning signs.
Indulging in feel good distractions like taking naps, surfing the web, reading, or snacking instead of getting an important task done.
Making excuses like “I had a rough week and need a break,” “I don’t feel inspired,” “I need more (money, resources, time, etc.) before I can get started.”
Giving into despair with thoughts like “Why me?,” “Why is life so unfair?,” and “Why can’t I be more organized?”
3. Use one of or more of the following anti-procrastination strategies to get into action:
- Vocabulary — Change your choice of words when you talk about a task you need to do. The words you use will have a strong influence on your perception.
- Reverse Calendar — Start with the ultimate deadline and then work backward, creating smaller deadlines leading up to the beginning of the task. Do your best to make sure these deadlines are within your control.
- Fill Up Your Schedule — Reduce the time you think you have available for working on important tasks by scheduling recreational and personal activities. You will find yourself making the most of your available time.
- Look at the Tiny Steps — If looking at the big picture overwhelms, break it down into smaller steps. Tackle these tiny steps one by one as individual victories. Before you know it, you will reach success.
- Make Your Own Rewards — Promise yourself a treat once you’ve completed a particular task. Note how good it feels to finish things.
- Define The Start and End Points — Once something has a beginning and an end, it’s a lot easier to start filling in the middle.
Ask yourself: Do I want my life to be unfulfilled because of what I keep putting off? Or, do I want my life to be bigger and bolder because I acted on the opportunities presented?
Use the above warning signs and strategies to stop procrastination in its tracks!