Stop procrastinating in four easy steps
By Anne Bachrach
A.M. Enterprises (The Accountability Coach)
Procrastination, also known as dilly-dallying, dragging your feet and excuse making is something we have all experienced at one time or another. The learned bad habits of our teens and early adult life — all those times we put off doing our homework and college term papers — can continue to haunt us well into our professional years.
“So what,” you say. “No one liked homework and term papers. Of course, they’re going to put it off until the very last minute — it’s natural.”
Actually, there is no such thing as healthy procrastination. To understand, let’s get to the root of the issue.
Why do people procrastinate to begin with?
People procrastinate because the thought of completing a task causes them discomfort, fear or anxiety. Notice I said the thought of completing the task. This is an important point.
For instance, take completing paperwork for various insurance and product related forms to submit for clients, or paperwork that's to be presented to clients for annual reviews. There is no real discomfort involved with filling out paperwork. Can it be tedious? Sometimes. Does it take time away from something you would rather be doing? Certainly. Can it be intellectually challenging? Possibly.
But is it impossible? No. Does it cause real discomfort? No.
In most instances, our anxiety causes us to procrastinate a task we perceive as difficult or impossible, when, in reality, it is often easier than we feared. The problem comes when you repeatedly procrastinate, allowing your anxiety to build until it is much bigger than the task itself.
The root of our procrastination and lollygagging comes down to exaggerated anxiety that we allow to spin out of control. To make matters worse, our anxiety is based on our perception of an outcome that has not even happened yet.
So how to stop procrastinating?
Just do it!
Step 1: Determine the specific cause of your fear or anxiety. What is it that you are really afraid of? Fear of failure? Fear that you’re not smart enough? That you won’t ace it or hit it out of the park? Fear of disappointing someone? How about fear of disappointing yourself? Fear of the unknown? Fear of not knowing how to respond to a question? Let me assure you, you have all the brainpower you need to accomplish more than you can imagine. You could look at this task as a way of proving to yourself — or someone else — that you can do it. Step 2: Outline an easy-to-follow, step-by-step plan for accomplishing the task. Break each step into small, non-anxiety inducing steps and write them on a list. As you complete each step, check it off the list and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. Maybe someone else on your team can complete part of task so you don’t have to do it all.
Step 3: Intend to complete the task with ease and success. We’ve all heard about the power of intention. Use it to your advantage by intending what you would like to see. You’ll be amazed what you can accomplish when you leave the anxiety behind. We are each given such incredible brainpower to solve the most complex and challenging tasks, but focusing on fear will completely bring you down. Intend that you can and will do it and you will achieve the desired outcome. Believe it can happen and many times it will.
Step 4: Tackle the task without further delay. This is the time for action. No excuses, no over-analyzing, no talking yourself out of it. Review your outline, set your intention and get moving. Call a friend for a pep talk if you need it, but make it quick. Confidence comes when you don’t let the fear control you. The quicker you take action, the less time you have to focus on the fear. Stop getting ready to get ready.
The Just DO IT (Determine, Outline, Intend,Tackle) system allows you to understand the root of your fear, so you can address it — and correct it — relieving the anxiety that does nothing but take away from your potential. Moreover, when anxiety no longer occupies your energy, you can focus on the goal at hand and accomplish it with confidence, peace of mind, and ease.
By using this system, you will not only gain confidence, it will improve:
- Peace of mind: Reduced anxiety means less stress
- Skill expansion: Learn how to break down the most difficult task and set it up for success
- Time management: With easy steps to follow, you accomplish more in less time
- Focus: When you eliminate the fear, you can focus on the goal and get to it!
- Adaptability: The DO IT system can be applied to any project in any industry
- Overall success: When you overcome fear, intend the desired outcome and tackle without excuses, you become unstoppable.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Just do it!