I’d always dreamt of becoming prolific, writing every day, putting my thoughts out there in a big way.

But the truth was that for years I put it off. Sharing my thoughts felt vulnerable, and I’d fallen into the trap of, “I’ll do it when…” Unfortunately, “when” never seemed to come.

Until a few years ago, when my graphic designer told me that to launch my website, I needed to write three blog articles. What better way to start, I thought, than with a post about overcoming procrastination?

I don’t typically identify as someone prone to procrastination. I’m a go-getter. I like to get stuff done. But as I prepared to launch my website, I found myself struggling to stop procrastinating.

You can spot procrastination when you put off tasks you need to prioritize. It may or may not look like procrastinating to someone else, and you may or may not think of yourself as a procrastinator. But, if you’ve had the same thing on your to-do list for several days or weeks past your deadline, it’s possible you are procrastinating.

If you’ve got a hunch that you’re avoiding certain important tasks, you’re probably right. The question is, how does one shift the momentum and stop procrastinating? Here’s the step-by-step process that I use when procrastination rears its ugly head.

  1. Get to the root of the issue. The next step is to ask yourself, Why am I procrastinating? We don’t always procrastinate for the same reasons. The solution to your procrastination relates to the root of the problem. You can also ask yourself, How is procrastination serving me right now? Although procrastination may feel like a problem, you are procrastinating to satisfy an unmet need. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be doing it. Since you’d like to stop procrastinating, how can you choose another solution to meet your needs?
  2. Notice without judgment. The first step to moving through a procrastination rut is seeing that you’ve been procrastinating without beating yourself up. Separate your actions from who you are. For example, my father told me constantly as a child, “I love you, I just don’t like your actions.” Just because you are currently procrastinating does not mean that you “are a procrastinator,” or that you are lazy, stupid, inadequate, or any of the other lies that your inner Judge might tell you.
  3. Create a solution.Once you know your reason for procrastinating, you can develop a plan to stop. Here are some possible reasons and solutions:

You feel uninspired or uninterested by the task at hand. If this is the case, I hear you. I have a hard time doing tasks when I don’t feel passionate. You have a few options: become inspired, look for long-term solutions, or just don’t do it. To become inspired, ask yourself, Why is this task important to me?

If it is something that you truly want or need to do, clarifying your underlying purpose can re-spark your passion for getting the job done. For example, you may need to complete this task now to create energy for more interesting and important things. You can also set up a reward system or find an accountability buddy to increase your motivation. If the task is work-related, and you feel uninspired in general by your job, it may be time to take steps toward creating work-life balance by talking to your employer or exploring a career change.

Finally, ask yourself if you need to do the thing that you are putting off. If not, one option may simply be to cross the task off your list and pat yourself on the back for creating space to say yes to what is more important.

Someone else wants you to do something that you don’t want to do. If this is the case, you usually have three choices. You can do the task for the sake of your relationship. You can talk to the other person about your needs and try to find a solution that works for both of you. Or, you can simply say no. Sometimes we need to muster the courage to clarify our needs, ask for what we need, or say no. This may be your task.

You feel tired, stressed, or overwhelmed. Procrastination can be a coping mechanism when you need a break. The combination of stress and procrastination are some of the first signs that you’re on the road to burnout. Work-life balance is all about maintaining your passion for the long haul, so do all you can to take a break and care for yourself now. Schedule time for play and doing nothing, bring beauty into your work environment, take a walk outside or go for a run, eat a nutritious meal, say no to the unimportant things on your plate, rest.

The task feels too big to wrap your mind around. It’s possible that the task at hand is gargantuan. In that case, break down the work in steps, schedule the deadline by which you want to get it done, and schedule everything else you need to complete the task. If the job is too big for you to tackle by yourself, identify steps to delegate. Then, ask for help. On the other hand, you may lack the necessary skill, training, and ability to get the job done. In this case, you can educate yourself, delegate the task, or cross it off your list.

When you dig underneath procrastination, you might discover fear. This is often the fear of failure or even success. For example, I realized that the main reason I’d not been writing was that I’d feared exposing myself to criticism from readers. I wondered what others would think of me, and my inner Judge told me I would never become as talented as the other writers out there in the blogosphere. The unknown is scary, AND there comes a time when we must embrace the fact that good enough today is often far better than perfect later.

In fact, our best is already perfect.

If fear has been holding you back, now is the time to stop procrastinating! Apply for a free Discovery Session with me today to find out how to clarify your goals and take the necessary steps to living the life you truly desire.

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