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We’re often told, “Never judge a book by the cover!” But if you were to go into the house or office of someone who is buried in chaos and piles of unfinished work laying everywhere, I guarantee that you’ll find a frustrated, unhappy and non-productive individual living in overwhelm and probably not getting the results they’re after. Because “how we do one thing is how we do everything.”

Beating the lure of procrastination is a simple process if you can make simple daily changes and become aware of what is behind the screen. Learn about the unconscious choices you make every day that lead you to satisfaction and joy or…put you into overwhelm and failure.

WHY DO WE PROCRASTINATE?

Pain Avoidance: Procrastination puts the idea of current pain into the future.  So it’s very tempting for us to fall into the habit of avoiding any perceived pain and putting things off for another day. For example we’ll do anything to escape that feeling of rejection from the “follow up” call we have to do where we might get a “NO!” We may also let the heavy housework or bills get behind because the pain of lifting the furniture or finding out that we owe much more than we thought is too scary. All of this triggers the pain reflex so we put these things off.

Delaying Reward: The bad news is that this procrastination also holds off all the rewards we would receive. It could mean getting that YES from the customer we least expect it from that when we finally do the follow up or maybe even moving them off the list entirely, so that we can make room for real prospects. Putting things off loses that sense of gratification of completing something that is weighing us down with worry or making us feel bad. Deep down we know we can do so much better and of course all of this is tied to our self worth and our emotional issues.

Bad Habits: So when did these procrastination habits all start? Was it in school? Maybe it was opting for fun activities and succumbing to peer pressures to play and party instead of studying so we could be more popular. Maybe it was at our workplace where there are always boring or harder tasks that need to get done. Perhaps we just feel resentful about those activities so we indulge and do the easier things first, thereby losing the war with ourselves over which things are priority.  This becomes a routine rut we fall into until the work starts piling up and burying us under the weight of it all. Then we feel even more victimized and more resentful and it becomes a cycle repeated over and over.

HOW DO WE DEAL WITH “TOMORROW, TOMORROW”?

Change Instinctive Behaviours: Did we learn these patterns of behaviour or are they instinctive? My guess is it’s a combination of both. Human instinct has a pull us as a far away from any pain we can possibly get. Also, our family, teachers, mentors and the influential people in our lives teach us the habits of being procrastinators or doers. So whether it is conscious or not, all of this behaviour forms patterns of comfort and familiarity that we humans crave, so it is very difficult to break out of this rut and make new choices.  Can we change the habits? Of course we can- but first we must look at why we want to. What do I get in return or what is in it for me?

Link New Habits to Good Feelings: We know for certain that when we feel good about who we are, the results appear in a myriad of ways that will benefit us. So in fact, linking good habits and not procrastinating with great feelings such as feeling peace, pride, success, energy, and reward- this would make it easier to make the right choice. If every time you tried to put off a task or activity you automatically triggered that connection to good feelings, it will remind you that this is great for your business, your relationships and your life in general. This will prevent you from succumbing to the temptation of delaying gratification due to old and destructive habits, which no longer serve you.

Resist Temptation: Giving in to this temptation of procrastination is the equivalent of taking a vacuum hose to your energy source and sucking it all out of you. No one feels empowered by lack of movement or accomplishment. Great energy always comes from activity, forward movement and then just keeps building from there. It’s just like learning to build new muscles – the more we discipline ourselves to get into action we develop better muscles, better reflexes, increase our concentration, energy and thus achieve the results we are after.

Address Missed Opportunities Now: Even in our methods of communication this is true.  For example, if I wait for the right time to tell a friend or colleague an important communication- eventually it won’t even matter or will seem completely irrelevant as the moment has passed. This becomes another missed opportunity for us. Telling yourself that “tomorrow this will be easier,” is a huge lie. Every day that passes is sucking your energy and draining you on some level.  It’s no wonder that so many of us need several Starbucks to get through our day! 

Apply Consistent Exercise: It is also probably true that children who grow up around success-oriented parents learn good habits that can keep them on a better path. For example- “never put off for tomorrow what you can do today.  It may be an old cliché but it is one that successful individuals adhere to. Any top CEO or successful entrepreneur will tell you, it is a series of small but consistent habits which they practice and improve on daily that has brought them their success. There is no magic bullet or secret sauce they have.

Start Earlier: So if we all knew how simple this really is to do, then – why don’t we do it? It’s breaking the habits that is the hard work in the beginning just like if you trained for a marathon. To finish that race you have to start somewhere. So maybe it’s a good idea to start with a three-item checklist each morning that says I must do these things before I get to play. Then as time goes forward you get stronger emotionally and feel that reward coming closer so you take it to the next step and do five items.  You can also get up an hour or so earlier and check them off your list so you can reward yourself with a little “goof off time” for an hour – maybe go visit a friend or take someone out to lunch.

Plan Ahead: Successful individuals don’t go haphazardly into their days. They plan their work days the night before or even days before. They know they have to use all the free time they can get to accomplish the errands and tasks they need to accomplish. Without plans they could easily end up watching “just one more episode” of their favorite show before realizing it’s already 8pm and now they are too tired to tackle anything.

NO EXCUSES – TAKE ACTION TODAY!

How often do you find yourself saying, “In a minute”, “I’ll get to it” or “Tomorrow’s good enough.”  We search for every possible excuse in the book.  Now go ahead and compare that with how often you decide it’s got to be done right now no matter what. This should be an indication of just how serious your procrastinating problem really is.”  If you want this issue to be dealt with once and for all, then practice a few of the simple solutions suggested above. And even more important–start to actually implement them today. Don’t wait another second–Do it NOW!! Contact me anytime!