People love to say they suffer from procrastination. “I’m the worst procrastinator” is something I hear a lot. When I ask, “How is that a problem?” I usually find the answer is, “because I can’t finish anything.”
What I find interesting is how much enthusiasm and pride I hear in their voices. In reality, they like being a procrastinator because it’s a guilt-free way to get out of their to-do list.
Of course they can finish a task, be organised, prioritise and get moving, otherwise, they couldn’t get dressed, make breakfast, drive their car to our training and get their bum in the seat. Not knowing how, or not being able to are not part of the procrastination behaviour!
We all have the ability to complete tasks in a fast and effective way. The biggest step in making a change to a more efficient pattern is a willingness to let go of the label. Deciding that you want to make the most of your day is half the battle won!
If you want to stop procrastinating the first thing I would say is, stop calling yourself a procrastinator.
Procrastination comes from one of two places.
1) You are following a learned pathway. In this case you are moving towards your goal, just more slowly, and less efficiently than you’d like to.
2) There is resistance to the goal. In this case, some element of the result (perhaps even tiny) is triggering fear on an unconscious level that prevents you from taking action.
Learned Pathways to Procrastination (H3 Heading)
I disagree that procrastination is a stopping point. When we look at the unconscious pathways there is movement towards the goal, just not a logical one.
Perhaps it was in primary school where you were asked to come up with a new story and you chewed your pencil for a minute before getting that idea. Or, it could be that the times you functioned best (according to your unconscious) was that last minute cramming for a high school exam. In that moment your mind was open and the work you were doing felt frantic and useful.
Your mind is simply recreating that effect by giving you some pencil chewing time, or by deliberately putting off doing a task so that you can put 100% of your energy behind it at the last minute.
In these cases, your unconscious mind simply doesn’t understand that there is a more effective way to use your time and energy.
You will be able to activate new pathways very quickly by doing things differently. When you come up with a design that is effective, efficient and enjoyable, your mind will be happy to do that again next time.
What we can do with chaining anchors is move someone off those pencil chewing moments and into action very quickly by identifying what those unique steps are in the mind and linking them together so closely, they feel like one process, rather than four.
If what’s holding you back from your goal is an unconscious fear, you will find you are no closer to your goal no matter how long it takes. The thing about fear is, it’s not real, it’s usually all in your head and not a realistic expectation of the outcome.
Proving that there is nothing to fear can be an uncomfortable experience.
Using the NLP Fast Phobia technique you can quickly and easily show your mind how positive the outcome will be by taking yourself to that moment when you do it.
When you finish that project or complete that task, how good will it feel?
By showing your mind one positive outcome it can rule out the uncertainty that was causing the fear.
If that doesn’t help, it could be that a Belief Buster is needed to get to the root cause of the decision you made that this outcome is negative.
You can also beat procrastination by simply demonstrating that there are more effective ways to get things done. These quick tips will work no matter what your procrastination level is, by both achieving the same result – proving to your unconscious mind that there is a faster, smoother, more positive way.
First Things First
Doing the thing you hate most first is a sure fire way of beating procrastination. Decide what you have to do, what’s most important and do that thing. Don’t allow anything else to happen before that! This will free up an amazing amount of hours in your day, give you a really positive boost first thing in the morning, and strengthen your unconscious choices on ways to complete tasks effectively.
Write up a list of to-dos, up the top, put the things you MUST do in order to achieve your goal. After that, you can list the things that are important to do and finally those things you’ll do if you have time.
Start at the very top and do one thing at a time. If you run out of time or energy and you still have some things on your list, these are the types of jobs that can easily and safely be left for tomorrow.
Normally a procrastinator would do the bottom things first, and even things that are not important enough to be on the list before working their way to top, usually to find they have run out of time and energy.
For most people just focusing on that one thing is enough, if not, break the task down into sections in order from first to last and start at the top. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
Use these bite-sized steps and progress through to the desired outcome.
You can also make sure you are using your time efficiently by allocating time to take breaks. It is a good idea to set limited break times and use that time to do something completely different and worthwhile, for example, things like shopping, cooking, cleaning or walking the dog can be used as 30-minute work breaks or you might like to just spend 15 minutes sitting outside, enjoying the weather.
To ensure that breaks serve your highest purpose, set breaks at sustainable intervals and be back on task at a certain time. Know when your breaks are and know how long you are breaking for.
If the whole point of your procrastination is to apply pressure, bring that pressure on yourself. For items that need to be finished by the end of the month, tell yourself they need to be done by the end of this week.
Or, if you like more instant pressure, set a timer for an allocated amount of time and work frantically until that timer goes off.
If the timer goes off and you are still working, fantastic, you’re in the groove and you can keep going happily.
If you’re around the right people, getting a job done can be so much simpler. For some people, just telling someone else they are going to complete a task will hold them to it when they might normally let it slide.
Working with like-minded people generates a positive energy and focus on the task that is easy to maintain. It also means, at the end of the session you can reward yourselves by socialising and relaxing in a group. Positive rewards are a really powerful way to get on task quickly and provide motivation to stay on track with extra incentives.
When it comes to procrastinating on the little things, like taking out the garbage or putting petrol in the car, really bring into your conscious awareness that you’re putting it off. These tasks often conflict with something more important, like our desire to rest, eat something or make a phone call. The result is usually one that takes more time, you have to go out of your way on your way to work to get petrol, you have to take the overflowing garbage out in the rain.
When you are thinking ‘oh, I should take that out now’ also consider how good it will feel when it’s done. Remind yourself that it will only take a minute and then you don’t have to think of it again. By associating the outcome with pleasure you can get enough motivation to polish off those little things when they are needed, get them cleared out of your mental space and feel virtuous for the rest of the day for being tidy and organised.
So as you can see, if you want to know how to stop procrastinating, all you need to do is drop the label of ‘I’m a procrastinator’, and take action!
The unconscious mind will always take the path of least resistance. Give it a hand by using the above steps, and you will quickly find the pleasure of completing tasks quickly outweighs the pain of leaving them to the last minute.
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