How To Stop Procrastinating Now

Updated on: 11 Feb 2020
Overcoming procrastination is basically to get things done in life and in your business. If you are reading this, I am sure you are trying to figure out how to stop procrastinating and reclaim back your time.
Procrastination is a barrier that prevents entrepreneurs and sales professionals from achieving goals and getting things done.
How to stop procrastinating - Procastination is the enemy of time
The good news is...
You are not alone! Everyone procrastinates! Learning how to stop procrastinating differentiates you from others in terms of achieving success in your life and business.
You can definitely stop procrastination with the right mindset and techniques. Stopping procrastination enables you to get more things done and, more importantly, get them done at the highest quality.
Quality work translates to trust from your customers, and that leads to boosting your sales.
Besides not delivering good quality work, the other side effect of procrastination is stress and anxiety. Stress is known to be a trigger to many health issues such as heart disease, asthma, and diabetes.
It is so easy to get stuck in a rut and let the same routine repeats every day. But really... how much time do you allocate to the activities that will fulfil your life goals? Considering the rate of change in this fast pace economy, do you have that much time to waste and live a life of regrets?
Procrastination has often caused our clients to missed out on valuable opportunities. This is because they did not think that some of the mundane tasks will have substantial impactful to their business if they are not completed.
For example, you know that there are hacks to save utility cost for your business. But because saving on operating cost is less important than generating income, you continue to push back the cost saving plan month after month. It is important to appreciate that cashflow is king in business. If you are generating revenue not looking after your bottom line, your business will not be profitable in the long run.
Look at it this way, these tasks, no matter how unimportant, was created for a reason in the first place. Surely you do not want to create tasks just for the sake of filling up your to-do list. So, by not following through what you have planned, your business will bound to suffer in the future.
It is estimated by Joseph Ferrari, a professor of Psychology, that 20% of U.S. population are chronic procrastinators.
In this article, I will provide you with an easy to follow guide to teach you how to stop procrastinating and get the focus required to get things done. You will be able to take control of your emotions and rid yourself of the tendency to procrastinate. I have done it myself, and it is definitely worth your time to follow through.

Why Do People Procrastinate

Here are the common reasons why people are procrastinating:
You are indecisive on which course of action to take. You keep generating more options and try to convince yourself that more research is required before you get down to real work.
You are a perfectionist! You set such a high standard to achieve that makes you scared to take action for fear of not meeting your own expectation!
Do you love to work under pressure? Perhaps that the reason why you prefer to leave things to the last minute. You get such a kick out of the pressure of meeting looming deadlines that you intentionally delay all your actions.
Many things in our life are distracting us from executing our tasks. The distractions are making it difficult for you to concentrate.
You may feel that the task at hand is too overwhelming, and it is too much to handle. When the going gets tough, you will put the job on hold and keep yourself busy with other things. It is quite a common thing these days that we see a lot of our clients biting off more than they can chew. You got to learn how to walk correctly before attempting to sprint.
There will be a time when you are faced with tasks that you do not like to do. To beat procrastination, you need to do things that you do not want to do. That said... There will be times when all of us have a problem motivating ourselves to work. Myself included! We are human, after all! Cut yourself some slack and chill. But! A prolonged relaxed attitude towards taking action will be disastrous when a deadline is fast approaching.
You will tend to procrastinate if you are low on the energy level. You are going to put things off until tomorrow and prefer just to catch a show or 2 on Netflix and doze off on your couch. Using energy level as an excuse over time will develop a routine habit that is hard to break.
For a more detailed analysis on why do people procrastinate, please read my previous article "Why Do I Procrastinate?"
Stop Procrastinating to Improve your Quality of life and achieve greater success in your business.
It is almost impossible for you to produce excellent quality deliverables if you wait till the last moment to execute your tasks. Yes, I am sure you have achieved a certain level of success before by rushing through last-minute tasks. Or perhaps, you may have read about famous people who are successful even though they procrastinate.
You got to know that last-minute work makes it tough for you to apply an elegant solution to a problem. This is because you are busy and focused on completing the task while losing sight of the bigger picture. On its own, the tasks may have been completed successfully. But on the grander scale of things, the output from the completed tasks can cause serious side effects which cannot be discovered until its too late!
You have a higher chance to succeed in your business and life if you execute immediately and not delaying your actions.
You do not want to limit your own success by perpetually postponing essential tasks until the last minute.
If you do not take steps to realize your full potential, you are limiting your ability to achieve success.
Yes... no doubt, success comes in the form of great business ideas and beating the odds. But you do know that part of this journey requires doing the mundane stuff which you procrastinate.
Not every part of the process leading to success is enjoyable or even comfortable. If you truly want success, you need to address those tasks that you have a tendency to procrastinate.
As terrible as it may seem, there are ways you can beat procrastination! You can still get back on track by making adjustments to your schedule and resources.
By acknowledging your weakness, you can now take the next step on how to stop procrastinating and experience the success you truly deserve.

How To Stop Procrastinating Once and For All!

Rewire your mind for success

If you want learn how to stop procrastinating for good, you need first to change your mindset. But mindset change is not as easy as it seems. You need to be deeply committed and be consistent in your change regime to successfully change your mindset. And it is not going to happen overnight.
To change your mindset, you need to change your perception and focus on WHY. You do not need to think about the "WHAT you want to achieve" and "HOW you intend to achieve" a goal. Focus on WHY you want to achieve that goal or desired outcome because that is what will motivate you to push on!
Do you know that when you tap into the full power of your brain, you can do so much more than what you are capable of now? All you need is to consistently practice your ability to harness the power of your mind to focus on what really matters. You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish when you train your brain to fight laziness and tiredness. The stronger your will to succeed, the better your mind will miraculously improve your productivity.

Understand why you are procrastinating

Before you can change your mindset, you must first understand why do you procrastinate. Procrastination could be due to indecisiveness. In that case, have you gotten all the information to take action? Are you avoiding a task because you lack the confidence or afraid to fair? Perhaps the task is pushing you out of comfort zone. Whatever the reasons why you procrastinate, you can start to train your mind to overcome the mental barrier and get work done.
Scientists believe that an individual's self-esteem and perception of his/her surround can impact the level of procrastination. If you have low self-esteem or you have a negative perception of the world, you are more likely to procrastinate. This is because you feel that there is no point in getting things done.
Another reason why you are procrastinating could be due to your lack of motivation to complete the tasks on hand. Instead, you would somewhat intentionally distract yourself with things that are not part of the project.
For example, you need to complete a blog post today. Netflix sent you an email informing you of the latest show that you may like. The next thing you know, you decided to sit on your couch with your controller instead.
You need to understand the reasons and acknowledge that you have this terrible habit before you learn how to stop procrastinating.

Be ready to hold yourself accountable

You are aware that you have many things to do, but you can't seem to motivate yourself to take them on. If you hold yourself accountable, you will find ways to get them started.
You can start with a diary to reflect every day what you have done and achieve.
Use a To-Do list to focus on what needs to be done. Set a reminder to ensure you stay focus and complete those tasks in the list. You do not need to be too aggressive in setting up tasks. By looking at your own resources and energy level, perhaps all you need is to complete 3 tasks for the day to call it a success!

Be committed to developing a good habit

Daily routines such as brushing your teeth or combing your hair in the morning have formed the daily habits which you perform automatically without even thinking about them. On the same basis, why can't you develop the good habit of getting things done and stop procrastinating?
How to stop procrastinating - Procrastination is for the weak minded, and I am a mental ninja!
Regardless of how simple, small or unpleasant a task is, you can put your mind just to get it started. You will eventually build the momentum to get all your tasks completed
How awesome would it be if it becomes second nature for you to just simply pick up a task (like the way you would pick up your toothbrush in the morning)? And complete it without further procrastination?
A research done by Phillippa Lally titled "How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world" found out that on average, it takes anything from 18 to 254 days for you to develop a new habit.
Graybiel, a professor from MIT, found that the part of our brain called the striatum plays a vital role in developing a new habit.
I have worked with clients to see through the entire process of new habit formation. Having someone to keep track of your progress will ensure a successful transformation. You may also get your family members or your spouse to hold you accountable.
The bottom line is that you got to be disciplined and commit to this change. Then, follow through what you have committed and let the momentum drives you forward.

Develop the ability to handle discomfort

You need to be able to prepare to handle discomforts. You probably would feel uncomfortable if you are asked to do something outside your comfort zone. Or perhaps you are nervous about what success brings to you (because you are afraid to be in the limelight). Or that you are fearful of failure.
No matter what... Don't let the prospect of discomfort in life be the cause of your procrastination.
Every one of us has a different level of tolerance towards discomfort. We also deal with pain differently. To be successful, we need to understand our limitations and most importantly, knows how to deal with them.
One of the ways to handle discomfort is to start small. For example, If you have never been in a sales role before, I would suggest selling the idea of a holiday trip to an unknown location to your friends. Talk about the pros and cons of the destination and convince them to take the trip with you.
If you are afraid of failure, you need to continually remind yourself that everyone fails in one way or another throughout their lifetime. It is the ability to face failure head-on, learn from the mistakes and try again with better techniques or approach. You need to be able to keep trying and keep failing to succeed. Failure builds a super-strong foundation for your success!

Always be creating value and think of the consequences

Whatever you are doing, you need first to be thinking of value creation. A business project without the sole purpose of creating value to your customers has no reason to exist. The tasks associated with this project will, therefore, also have benefits which you would naturally be motivated to work for.
As business owners, we are working on projects or tasks in the hope of producing good returns. But sometimes, we may lose our focus and conveniently forget why we are doing this in the first place. Therefore, you will need to continually remind yourself what would happen if you do not focus and complete the tasks on hand.
You can stop procrastination if you ponder over what are the consequences.
For example, it could be a missed opportunity that results in a loss of income. Or on a positive note.. how about the success it brings to your life if you follow through the tasks that were initially planned to ensure achieving your goals?
When you think of value creation and the consequences of not getting things done, you will naturally stop making excuses to delay your tasks.

Ban excuses in your life

You got to stop making excuses in your mind. Period!
Have you been making "reasonable" excuses for not finishing your project?
Are you blaming that you did not have sufficient information or lack of instruction which lead to delay in tasks?
Making excuses justify why you procrastinate. Focus on the task and not spending the time to come up with reasons.

Remove distractions

Calm your mind. Stay focus. Turn off the random thoughts in your mind through meditation and be mindful of the present state in your life.
To put your mind into laser focus mode, try 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation.
Besides meditation, you need to identify the non-productive activities that lead you to procrastinate. For example,
1. Do you play games on your devices while working on your tasks?
2. Are you checking social media or email while typing out your report?
You can't improve if you are not able to track and measure the time spent that is not contributing to the completion of your tasks. Once you know which are the problem activities, you can take concrete steps to eliminate any opportunities for these activities to surface when you are working on your tasks.
Distractions that you can have control over should be the first to go. Before starting your tasks, turn off your phone, TV and notifications from any devices. During the scheduled time where you are supposed to focus on your tasks, you should avoid checking social media and email. Some apps can allow you to block all these distractions. Alternatively, engage a coach to hold you accountable and keep you on track.
Commit 10-15mins a day to quickly tidy up your workspace. Get rid of clutter in your room, desk and even on your screen. A cluttered environment drains your mental energy. On the contrary, a clutter-free space promotes action and focus.
Everyone thinks that they can multi-task. But do you know that working on 2 or more tasks at the same time is a severe form of distraction? Though it may seem productive on the surface, the fact is that it is a complete waste of your time and energy.
Gloria Mark, a professor at the University of California, explained that when you interrupt your current tasks to work on another task, it takes you about 23 minutes to get back your focus on your 1st task. The switching of tasks also leads to building up of stress and causes you to feel more tired.
Inform people around you that you need X amount of time without any interruptions from them. Sometimes, you may need hours, or at times, you need days to be cut off from the outside world to get through your tasks. It may not be easy if you have kids. However, through proper planning and communication, you can still be able to achieve some form of isolation without sacrificing your family time.

Set Goals, Plan and Prioritize

Great! Now that you have got the distractions under control and your mind focused, the next step is to set realistic goals for your project. As mentioned earlier, a project needs to create value or else it should not exist. Therefore, your goals should be the desired outcome that you want to achieve after the project is successfully completed.
Goals should be realistic with a clear set of deadlines. You will get easily discouraged if you set unrealistic goals and deadlines. I would like to emphasize that you should set attainable goals and deadlines to avoid demotivating yourself halfway through the project.
- A goal must be S.M.A.R.T. By that, I mean:
- Specific: What exactly do you want to achieve?
- Measurable: How do you know you have achieved your goal? Quantify the achievement.
- Achievable: Goal has to be realistic.
- Relevant: Is the goal worth attaining? Is the goal applicable to the problem that you are trying to solve?
- Time-Bound: When exactly do you want to achieve this goal?
After you have your goals defined, you will need to create a list of discrete tasks that are required to be completed to achieve those goals. For each task, put down a target completion date. Break down a big task into small sub-tasks so that they can be accomplished in a single session. A single session can be defined as a day worth of effort or just 1 hour. If you are a chronic procrastinator, I will advise you to start with a shorter session (say, for example, half an hour) to avoid being overwhelmed. The idea is to avoid falling back to your procrastination mode. More on this in the next section "Divide and Conquer"
If you are entering all these tasks only in your to-do list, you will risk putting in too many tasks that you can't complete within the day. Your tasks need to be executed based on your energy level throughout the day. Everyone is different when it comes to their energy level. You may have more energy at night while others have optimal energy in the early morning.
So, a better way is to prioritize all your tasks in a to-do list. This way, you will know which one is the more important ones that need to be done immediately. Next, put all these tasks in your calendar. This way, you can have an overview of the amount of time that you will be spending each day. More importantly, it also sets a realistic expectation of how a day will look like.
After you have completed a task, strike it off from the to-do list. This will give you a high morale-boosting shot and helps to keep you going.
Get help from a professional coach or mentor to help you put things in order. You need a professional or someone who has the experience to help you make certain adjustments in your plan. They can also help to get you back on track when something didn't go as planned. Without proper guidance, a mismanaged project can quickly turn chaotic. And you will end up procrastinating.
A coach or mentor does not need to be the subject matter expert. They do not need to know your business, as this is your domain of expertise. They are there to hold you accountable by tracking and nudging on your progress.
If you do not wish to get a professional coach or mentor, then perhaps you can get your family and coworkers involved. Their role is solely to hold you accountable for every action you take towards achieving your goals. They can also be great cheerleaders to support you emotionally.

Divide and Conquer

One of the common reason why you procrastinate is the overwhelming challenges in finishing up a large project or assignment. You will need to break the project into tasks, and each task can further be broken down into a series of sub-tasks. This way, you will draw on the momentum and be motivated to move forward as each sub-tasks are completed. Maintaining a consistent momentum in your execution will help to prevent procrastination from creeping in.
After you have completed a task, strike it off from the to-do list. This will give you a high morale-boosting shot and helps to keep you going.
You can start experiencing a better quality of life by committing to take action consistently. Consistency can be achieved by breaking down big tasks into smaller attainable tasks. According to Melissa Gratias, PhD , a massive task becomes more manageable when we break it down into "bite-size" tasks. Smaller approachable tasks reduce your tendency to procrastinate and build up your confidence.
Here's a simple guide on how to break down the big chunk of work into smaller tasks.
First, estimate the total time required to complete the entire work. Then, divide the work into 30 minutes of tasks. After you have listed down all the 30 minutes tasks and determine the energy level required for each of them. When you are done determining the energy requirement for each task, assign the relevant timeslots so that you can achieve the best productivity in respect to your energy level. Finally, allocate 5-10mins of break time to celebrate the successful completion of a sub-task. The rationale is to ensure you do not burn out and lose the motivation to finish up the work.
Here's a typical example where you have a new product idea that you want to test market acceptance. Each task is in 30 minutes block. You may also consider having a 60 minutes block if the minimum effort required is longer than 30 minutes
Here's a typical example where you have a new product idea that you want to test market acceptance. Each task is in 30 minutes block. You may also consider having a 60 minutes block if the minimum effort required is longer than 30 minutes
Here's a typical example where you have a new product idea that you want to test market acceptance. Each task is in 30 minutes block. You may also consider having a 60 minutes block if the minimum effort required is longer than 30 minutes
Task 1: Draft the description of this new product. What are the pain points you are trying to solve, what are the features and how your product can solve the problems identified
Task 2: Mockup the product on paper to visualize the customer experience
Task 3: Develop sales pitch
Task 4: Ad Copywriting
Task 5: Setup and publish Facebook Ad
Task 6: Track performance of Ad conversion and signups for your product.
Most of the time, you will not have all the skillsets necessary to achieve the desired outcome for a project. This is why you need to form a team of individual members with a spectrum of skills that can help you achieve your business goals.
Breaking down of tasks into smaller actionable parts can help you to delegate part of your work to someone else easily. You can delegate your tasks to either your own team or outsource them to the third party. Delegation is key to success in business. You can never be able to achieve success on your own.
Small tasks allow you to more accurately measure the performance of your team since you can define the deadline and a single outcome for each task.
Delegating small tasks sets a clear outcome expectation, and you can efficiently allocate the right people to the right job. Ideally, the task that you outsource has only 1 outcome and only requires a specific skill set.
Delegation eliminates procrastination on your part since you have someone else to help you to carry out the tasks. However, if you do not manage your team correctly, you will end up having team members procrastinating over difficult or impossible tasks.

Reward yourself

Are you pushing yourself too hard and forgetting to take time out for yourself? If your answer is yes, then you have a high chance of procrastinating.
Gaining some “me-time” is a good way for you to celebrate success. Taking time out for yourself will also help you to stay calm, well-rested and stress-free. When you are well-rested, you will have the optimal energy level to accomplish more and avoid procrastination.
You must recognize each of your accomplishments, regardless of how small they are. Give yourself a pat on the back when you have completed a task. For example, if you have completed your first version business plan draft, you can celebrate with a small treat of your choice. There is no need for you to let others know about your success as they may not appreciate the context of your work. Celebrating small wins need not be elaborate in nature. It can be as simple as giving yourself a night out or enjoy a quick nap.
If there are tasks that you do not enjoy doing, you can consider dangling a reward at the end of each task.
Example #1
If you have completed 50 cold calls for the day, you give yourself a treat to your favourite drink. The reward should be realistic and straightforward, but also something that you can look forward to.
Example #2
You have a task where you are required to complete your research on a niche market segment. This is a critical task for your business, and you cannot procrastinate on it. The task requires a lot of focus. The faster you can complete this task, the quicker you can go to market with your product. You can align the reward in such a way that if you can complete the task faster, the more time you can spend on your favourite show or a good massage that you have always wanted.
Gamify boring and uncomfortable tasks make it more enjoyable for you to perform them. When you enjoy doing something, you will stop procrastinate naturally.
How to stop procrastinating - Hard work is often easy work you didn’t get done at the proper time
How true! The longer you put off doing a task or project, the harder it'll be to get it done because more work has piled up, conditions have gotten worse, and others involved are now irritated with you.
You can beat procrastination as long as you can commit and hold yourself accountable to it. Put in the effort to make a difference in your life and be rewarded with the fruit of success. If you would like to have a mentor/coach to assist you to stop procrastination, I am happy to help you any time.

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