Overcome Procrastination: Do What You Don't Want To Do!

66040365-1 I reckon the universe is trying to give me a message! Last week I received an email from Darren Hardy titled ‘Do What You Don’t Want To Do.’ And then today, a post called ‘The 80/20 Rule and Listening to Your Inner Procrastinator’ popped up on my Facebook feed from Brian Tracy when I was, oops, procrastinating!

One of the lessons I’ve learned is that I expend far more time and energy putting off something I don’t want to do than I ever do if I simply get on with it. And here’s the rub. There’s often a longer term, negative consequence. For example, if I don’t want to go for a run because it’s too hot, I’m not achieving my higher goal of getting fit enough to run 5K. Likewise if I succumb to a piece of carrot cake, I’m not sticking to my plan of eating low GL foods to keep my energy levels constant. Or if I don’t want to make that telephone call because I’m worried that a potential joint venture partner will say ‘no’, I should just call that person because s/he might just say ‘yes.’ To overcome procrastination, we have to simply do what we don't want to do! But how?

We humans have two incredible abilities. Firstly, we’re able to make clear decisions about what we want. Secondly, we’re then able to completely put off pursuing this! So what drives procrastination?

  1. Fear is the major cause of procrastination. People procrastinate because they are afraid - of failure, of success, of what others will think of them, that they will do a poor job. The list goes on…
  1. An aversion to hard work. Being successful requires a lot of hard work which can be physically, mentally or emotionally exhausting.
  1. Because deep down, some people aren’t really passionate about what it is they’re doing. Those people who are truly successful love what they do with a passion.
  1. Because they don’t know how to get themselves going internally so they wait until something externally moves them such as a deadline.

Here are my top tips for managing your inner procrastinator and doing those things you don’t want to do.

1. Make Sure You Schedule Regular Time Off

During the course of your day, make time to go out for a walk or a run, to read a book, to take a yoga class, whatever you most enjoy doing. Ensure you have at least one day free at the weekend when you don’t work, not even to peek at your emails. And schedule occasional weekends away and regular holidays. In his “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey calls this “Sharpening The Saw”. He explains that as the business owner we are the main “tool” for success in our business and so if we don’t take time out to sharpen the saw i.e. to nurture and take care of ourselves, the saw becomes blunt, and we no longer perform at our best.

2. Schedule A Daily Productivity Hour

I like to set aside the first hour or so of my working day to work on my highest priority activity for the day, and that highest priority activity is always linked to my goals for the month. That way I know I’m making consistent progress towards meeting my goals, even if on some days, I’ve only been able to set aside a relatively small amount of time.

3. Tiptoe In and See What Happens

Or put another way just get going and see what happens. When I don’t much feel like my morning yoga practice, I put the video on and start. I know that however tired or inflexible I’m feeling, I’m going to complete the class. Likewise when I don’t feel like writing a blog post for this website, I still start because I know that I’ll get into my flow soon enough.

4. Don’t Listen To Your Moods

A key reason we procrastinate is because we just “don’t feel like doing it.” But I want to let you into a secret. Our moods lie! So if you’re in one of those moods, do something to change it up. Read your goals, look at your vision board, say affirmations, meditate…I listen to music to change my state. Toploader’s ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’ and if that doesn’t quite do the trick, Gnarls Berkley’s ‘Crazy.’

5. Share Your Commitment With Another Person

Choose one person and tell them you’ve committed to a specific actitivity, with dates and times. Ask if s/he will hold you accountable in a friendly but firm way. One of the reasons I joined a business mentoring group was for this type of accountability; I don’t want to turn up to our monthly meetings not having completed the actions I’d committed to.

6. Visualise The End Goal

Visualisation is a proven technique for overcoming procrastination. Researchers at UCLA found that people who used visualisation, which included the actual process of what needed to be done to achieve their goal, were more likely to outperform their peers. By focusing attention on the steps needed to reach the goal they improved the way they planned out the activity and imagining each individual step in detail helped to reduced anxiety.

7. Drop The Perfectionism

Perfectionism, not to be confused with high quality, is a habit that holds us back from delivering results. Of course we must deliver our highest work at the best quality, but it doesn’t have to be perfect.

8. Reward Yourself

We don’t reward ourselves nearly enough! When we achieve a goal, of any shape or size, particularly one we’ve been procrastinating over for a long time, celebrate it! Book a treat. Give yourself a day off. Treat your accomplishment with gratitude and joy.

So when faced with a choice and you’re not sure which one to take, make the one you don’t want to do because it’s amazing how often this is the correct choice. As Jim Rohn said

“We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret and disappointment. “


What don’t you want to do? What’s your top tip for overcoming procrastination? You can leave a comment by clicking here.