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  • Writer's pictureNat Harrison

Reasons Why You Procrastinate and How to Stop

How do we overcome procrastination and gain back control of our time?

This problem seems to have plagued many of my clients since the lock-downs began and I am no stranger to it myself (although this is a lifelong issue).

You see, I am chronically optimistic which causes me to :

👉Write too long and unrealistic to-do lists

👉Underestimate how long it takes me to do tasks

👉Leave large tasks until later in the day, thinking I will be able fit everything in

👉Believe that I can do just one more thing, which means I am forever rushing.

Sadly for me, time waits for no woman!

I have collected real-life scenarios of how procrastination presents itself in our lives based on my own and my clients' experiences and tips that might help to overcome it.

So here are 6 reason why me do it, and some great tips to help you overcome your procrastination:

1. Not knowing where to start or taking on overwhelmingly big tasks

It can be very difficult to get motivated about harder and bigger tasks and we often set these sorts of tasks aside for another time. This is a sign that the task needs to be broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks and scheduled over a period of time, rather than facing into the abyss of the unknown.

What is just as important, is giving yourself some time to think and understand what research or activities you might need to do, to get started. We put off deep thoughts more and more these days, with dopamine-rich content all around us.

Write down the dependencies and tasks to understand what’s involved.

And here’s the piece-de-resistance…

Allocate time to each of these mini-tasks and SCHEDULE THEM IN YOUR CALENDAR, then breathe and now COMMIT to doing as your calendar dictates!

2. Your energy levels aren’t in tune with the task you are trying to do

I find it very difficult to sit down and focus for an hour or two and do some training / research / writing if I have just finished a energetic coaching session.

A great way to get in the zone for deeper focused work, is to have an anchored place for certain states/energy/tasks, and only sit in this place when doing this specific type of task.

I am very lucky to have a lovely armchair in my office at the side of my desk, that I keep for tasks such as reading books, taking part in online coach training and thinking.

I may churn out work at my desk but my armchair is where the work goes on that makes ALL the difference to my business success. Whenever I sit in the chair, I automatically become calmer and more focused.

Why not find a place in your home (or workspace) to anchor a state of focus and productivity and give it a go...

3. Leaving larger tasks for the end of the day or never getting to them

First thing in the morning, ticking off small tasks on your to-do list as quickly as possible can make you feel busy and that you are getting a lot done.

It's also a quick way to get a dopamine boost in the reward-centre of your brain and feel like you are nailing it! But this is generally not the best way to start your working day and in reality, this is just procrastinating on larger projects and assignments.

If this sounds like you, a process you may be interested in is called “Eat Your Frog”, where you commit to starting that larger task first thing in the morning and doing it for 10/15/20 minutes increments (gradually increasing) whilst you build up your tolerance to starting larger tasks earlier in the day.

This is taken from the Book "Eat That Frog" by @thebriantracy if this sounds like something you really need help with.

4. Losing focus and Getting Distracted

If all else fails, Pomodoro will not.

Grab your annoying cooking timer from the kitchen (red tomato one optional, I have a white egg-shaped one). Then decide what your max attention span is when it comes to concentrating on work, then give yourself a downtime reward for 10-15 mins.

From my experience, I would say most people drop off a cliff in between 75-90 minutes.

Now, plan your work in sprints of your attention span throughout the day and practise using the technique for a couple of weeks. Tweak as you need to...

5. Not Taking Advantage of Your Existing Daily Habits

Did you know that you can use connected behaviours to your advantage and it’s a way of overcoming procrastination, particularly around not doing exercise or self-care activities?

It's called Habit Stacking, which means connecting something you want to do with something you habitually do. Identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behaviour on top.⁠ e.g. After I pour my cup of coffee each morning, I will meditate for one minute.

The reason habit stacking works so well is that your current habits are already subconsciously patterned in your brain.

Once you have mastered this basic structure, you can begin to create larger stacks by chaining small habits together, allowing you to take advantage of the natural momentum that comes from one behaviour leading into the next.⁠

Top tip: I am currently using an app called Fabulous (@thefabstory) to help me structure my morning /bedtime routines and stack lots of actions together.⁠

6. Having a Huge Overwhelming List of Different Tasks

One of the best tips I have, which I took from some time-management gurus is to have 3 To-Do lists.⁠

  1. Never-ending humongous list where you write everything so you can overcome your fear of forgetting something.

  2. Your daily to-do list (which should be achievable by the way!)⁠

  3. A monthly to-do list, of 7 OR LESS bigger things/projects, so you can actually gain traction and achieve things.⁠

I have to admin that I have lots of resistance to no. 3

“What! I HAVE TO LIMIT myself to just 7 things a month?”

“But what about all the other stuff I need to get done?”⁠

“I will NEVER be able to choose what goes on the list of 5-7 things for the month”

But since doing the training, this idea has stayed with me...⁠

It is genius! It makes you prioritise, it means you are more focused, and it means you will benefit from the motivation gained from actually completing something!

Fixing your reasons for procrastination may well seem a little overwhelming too, so why not break them down into realistic change? Why not make a list of all the reasons you procrastinate, prioritise them in order of impact on your time, and then work through them?

Make one change a month and practise every working day and within 6 months you could be a master of your own time (and destiny)!! Good luck x

Good luck and let me know how you get on.

Best Nat x


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