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The Productivity Cure: 7 Simple Ways to Defeat Procrastination

We’ve all been there you know what you really want to do or what you should do but you keep putting it off. Trust me I’ve been there. Lack of effective action is one of the biggest roadblocks to success.

I want to ensure you achieve your goals and dreams starting TODAY.

That’s why I’ve pulled together some of my top tips so you can banish the “procrastination blues.” Feel free to try one or all! No time like the present to start overcoming procrastination than by taking action now.

1. Banish Guilt

If you’ve been a procrastinator since childhood, it may have been made worse by overly-authoritarian parents or teachers. Procrastination can also be a type of avoidance behavior, where those who feel habitually feel powerless take back personal power in the only way known to them—procrastination on tasks they are ordered to do.

Along with avoidance-based procrastination unfortunately goes its offshoots—guilt and shame. We hear the voices of those authority figures telling us that we “blew it again”, “can’t be depended on”; even all-or-nothing statements like “you’re a complete failure” (usually accompanied by comparisons to a perfect sibling or neighborhood example)—long after we’ve grown up and supposedly left all childhood voices behind.

Guilt and shame have no place in working on becoming the person we were born to be. One good dose of shaming (especially from yourself) and you’re likely to revert to the one defense you’ve truly mastered—the mental equivalent of curling up in a fetal ball in a darkened room—procrastinate.

Learn to banish guilt by using cognitive reframing. Replace those excoriating self-lashes with phrases based in reality. For example, instead of saying to yourself, “I did it again. I’m a complete screw-up!” try stating just the facts. (“I spent an hour of `me’ time. Now it’s time to put that aside and go to work.”)

It feels much better when you take the blame-and-shame out of your procrastination habits, and focus on realistic solutions.

2. Put your Mobile Away!

If you’re compulsive message-checker or texter, don’t even leave your mobile in the same room.

Unless you’re waiting for news of earth-shattering importance (a grandchild about to be born any second or a status update on a critically ill relative), the world won’t end without you checking your messages.

And you’ll be training people who don’t respect your work hours that you really do have boundaries.

3. Go outdoors!

Next time you feel overwhelmed enough to take a break, don’t fall into one of your habitual procrastination behaviors: Take a brisk, twenty-minute walk or go sit on the deck for ten minutes.

Fresh air helps both psychologically and by boosting oxygen production to clear the cobwebs from our brains. Tell yourself you’re taking a break—not procrastinating (which you would have been doing, had you got sucked into your traditional game of Candy Crush).

Besides, a brisk twenty-minute walk per day will give you your daily exercise!

4. Ask Yourself What’s Really Going On

You can’t change a habit until you understand it. Next time you find yourself procrastinating, stop the procrastination activity you’re doing, get up from your seat and ask yourself: “What is really going on here?”

Try to figure out if you’re simply daunted by the thought of starting a task you find difficult, or you simply hate that particular task, or you’re angry because you have to work late—or whatever is really behind the procrastination.

Getting in touch with your real feelings can tip you off to finding the right solution to that particular procrastination session: For example, if you absolutely hate setting up email series, plan to outsource this activity in the future.

5. Break It Down

If a task seems overwhelming, break it down into its smallest steps. Then focus on only performing “the next step”.

You’ll find you are more easily able to start even the most overwhelming task if you can identify and take that all-important first step.

6. Use Prompts

Sometimes we procrastinate almost by accident. That quick trip to Facebook to ask a key person a question sees us side-tracked by a Facebook Friend’s tragedy or doing unexpected customer service (when we’d already scheduled time to do that in the afternoon).

Put up prompts that remind you. Make an infographic of your favorite inspiring phrases—or buy one. Frame it. Keep it on your desk. Or at least print out motivational “reminder” phrases and stick them where you can see them—on your bulletin board; on the wall over your computer; or anywhere that makes them catch your eye.

For example, if you simply need to be reminded to get started, have a large reminder in site that says “Start right now!” If you need to remember to take care of an important bill or a cancellation, make yourself a temporary sign the day before that says “Pay electric bill!”

And do remember to move your permanent prompts around. Don’t keep them in the same place, or they’ll blend into the scenery in your mind’s eye.

7. Be Specific

If you find yourself thinking in generalities about starting tasks, get specific. For example, instead of thinking “I’ve really got to write that blog post on Engaging your Audience,” change that thought to: “I’m going to write 10 Tips for Engaging Your Audience. Tip Number One is…”

Open up your word processor while you’re doing this—and be ready to start!


Focus on Your Success!

Sometimes the simplest strategies are the best strategies of all. Gretchen Ruben, best-selling author of The Happiness Project, shares this tip:

“On the top of a piece of paper, write, “By the end of today, I will have __________.” This also gives you the thrill of crossing a task off your list.”

The urge to procrastinate can never totally be eliminated—it does serve a purpose. It’s usually a sign something isn’t right with us. But know what that purpose or reason is, when you procrastinate: And know that it’s your right to develop effective strategies to totally bust it, every time.

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  • Marge Dorsa / 25 June 2017 10:17

    Killer tips. Going outdoors is always my first choice to reset and focus. Any one of them can help us get “unstuck”. Together, a roadmap for success. Thanks for sharing, Ryan!

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