Stop procrastinating in 3 easy steps

23 February 2018

Young man procrastinating by reading on his phone while at work

Dr. Vesna Grubacevic

Dr. Vesna Grubacevic is an author of the Amazon best-selling book, ‘Stop Sabotaging Your Confidence'.

Let’s face it, whether it’s in business or in private life, there are times when we all tend to procrastinate. But that needn’t be the case. Here’s three simple ways to stop your procrastination.

When was the last time you put off doing something that you said you would do for your business? Do you drag your feet when it comes to taking certain action or completing some tasks, like public speaking, writing articles, study, phone calls, paperwork, and making business decisions?

Would you like to stop procrastinating and, instead, be motivated to take action in your business?

The cost of procrastination

Some people have mastered the art of putting off doing certain tasks, despite knowing they will be worse off for the delay.

Research has shown that around 15 to 20 per cent of adults regularly put off activities that would be better done right away; around 40 per cent of people have experienced a financial loss as a result of procrastination; and procrastinators have higher stress levels and more severe health problems than people who act right away.

Time to stop procrastination

Here are three ways you can now get motivated and stop procrastinating:

  1. Is it what you really want?

Think about the activity you have been putting off and ask yourself: “Is the activity aligned with your business vision and goals? Will it bring you closer to your vision/goals or steer you in another direction?”

By asking yourself these questions, you may find that the activity is not going to help you achieve what you want and you have been putting it off for the right reason. It is important to then act on that insight.

If the activity is aligned with your vision/goals, perhaps you needed to see the fit with the big picture before you were motivated enough to do it. When we do things without a big picture context, we can feel unmotivated, see no real reason or benefit for doing it.

Once you are clear about the big picture, then ensure that you have clear goals with clear commitments and timeframes to help you to achieve your vision. People with vague goals are almost as unmotivated as those without any goals at all.

Research at Hofstra University (Long Island, New York) demonstrates that procrastinators who had clear intentions and specific commitments to a time, were eight times as likely to follow through on the commitment than those without them.

  1. Are you sufficiently motivated?

As you think about the activity that you have been putting off, how motivated do you feel about doing it? Motivation is a feeling, so do you actually feel motivated as you think about the activity or not?

Do you feel other positive emotions (e.g. confidence, passion and determination) or negative emotions (e.g. resentment, guilt, shame or anger) as you think about doing it? It is difficult to put off doing things that you feel motivated to do.

Because our thoughts and emotions are linked together, if you want to feel motivated to complete a task, you simply need to think about something you felt motivated to do in the past (even if it is unrelated to business).

For example, as you think about the last time you were really motivated to go on a holiday, you will feel the motivation you felt at that time. By staying in that motivated frame of mind, you will be motivated to take action on any business task.

  1. What meaning do you give it?

What meaning do you give to the activity you have been putting off? Do you imagine it as being boring or fun? Do you imagine that it will take forever or be quick? Do you imagine that you will be able to do it easily or worry that you will stumble or get stuck?

If you imagine positives around that activity, you will be more motivated than if you imagine the negatives.

For some procrastinators, anticipation of the task is often far worse than what the task turns out to be. Are you anticipating the task turning out well or not? By visualising the activity being a success, you will be much more motivated to take action in your business.

Imagine how much more productive, fulfilled and successful you could be in your business once you master motivation and stop procrastination.

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