When I was a uni student, I was the queen of procrastination. I found so many ways to procrastinate you’d think someone was paying me (I wish someone had been!) and I’d convinced myself I needed the pressure of a deadline to do my best work.
But what they say is true – as you get older, you get wiser, and I soon came to grips with just how much my procrastination habit was holding me back! Thankfully, I figured out how to stop doing it and that’s what I’m going to share with you today. I’m not going to lie, I still procrastinate every now and again but I do it SO much less than I used to. Here’s the step-by-step process that works for me.
Why you procrastinate
Before you can stop procrastinating, it’s important to understand what procrastination is and what it is not. It is NOT laziness, it is not a lack of willpower, it is not a love of Netflix and it is not a short attention span. None of these things are the problem. Procrastination is simply something we do to avoid uncomfortable emotions like boredom, frustration, rejection, self-doubt, fear and anxiety. That’s it. Procrastination is just our way of avoiding discomfort.
Procrastination is a habit
The more we practice avoiding uncomfortable emotions, the better we get at doing it. That’s why some people think they have a ‘natural’ tendency to procrastinate. They don’t. They’ve just created a habit of procrastination through constant repetition. The good news is that habit can be changed, here’s how:
STEP 1: Create a list
The first step to stopping procrastination is listing your favorite ways to procrastinate. This step is pretty damn easy, but it’s still important you take the time to do it! All you need to do is write a list of the things you do when you start feeling uncomfortable. Here are some examples: going on Pinterest, scrolling through Instagram, over-planning, over-editing, making excuses, eating, Netflix, YouTube – you get the idea!
STEP 2: Track your feelings
Now that you’ve listed your favorite ways to procrastinate, the second step is to figure out which uncomfortable or negative feelings lead you to these activities time and time again. I know – that doesn’t sound fun at all! Which is why I’ve created a procrastination tracker you can use the next time you’re trying to do a task that always ends in procrastination. Just download my free procrastination tracker so you can use it the next time you want to stop yourself procrastinating.
STEP 3: Set yourself a time limit
The third and final step is to call yourself out when you find yourself doing something on your list (Step 1) to avoid an uncomfortable feeling (Step 2). Easier said than done though, right? So to make it as easy as possible, I like to set myself a time limit for how long I need to focus on a certain task without getting distracted or procrastinating. And at the beginning, the shorter the better – I recommend aiming for only 20 minutes of focused work to begin with and building up from there!
If I find myself procrastinating, I write it down on my procrastination tracker and do my best to get back on task. It’s all about creating a new habit and that takes time, but I’m proof that it can be done. And it’s definitely worth it!
Do you struggle with procrastination? Let me know in the comments below!