We all experience it. That knowing that you really need to get something done, but you just can’t seem to find the motivation to make it happen.
Thinking things through before taking thoughtful action is definitely a positive leadership quality; however, if a decision has been made and action needs to happen, procrastination can only create negative responses, including more stress on yourself.
Why does procrastination happen?
There are many reasons; however, the biggest reasons are:
- You do not enjoy the action or activity that will move you forward
- You are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start
- You are afraid you do not have the right knowledge or skills required
- You are afraid you will fail
When you find yourself stuck in procrastination, here are four simple steps you can take to start moving forward and creating momentum.
- Break it Down: You may have heard the saying, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer being, “One bite at a time.” Procrastination often creeps in when we feel overwhelmed by the size or depth of a project or intention. Sit down and map it out. Just like your GPS – start with the destination and then look at all of the step-by-step directions to get you to where you want to go. By developing a step-by-step action plan, you are now back in control and can take one step at a time.
- Daily Checklist: I recommend getting a notebook and each day writing down everything you need to do. This can include regular meetings as well as the next steps in your action plan. When you accomplish each item, check it off so that you can visually see your progress. This creates momentum. Your list also helps you re-focus after any disturbances in your day as you simply have to review your list and not try to remember what you needed to do next. When we have many things in our heads to accomplish as opposed to on our list, a lot of time is consumed remembering and stress is created trying to ensure we do not forget, which ultimately causes overwhelm – a key cause for procrastination.
- Ask for Help: Too often in life we feel like we need to figure out everything on our own. However, when we feel stuck or unable to move things forward having a conversation with a colleague, friend or coach can help break things down, provide insight or remove obstacles that are holding you back. Leaders know asking for help is a strengths, not a weakness.
- Create a Healthy Reward: By setting a healthy reward for yourself when you complete a difficult project it acts as an incentive to help move you forward. When you are sitting down to break the project down, identify a reward. Your reward could be reading a fiction book, going for a pedicure, meeting a friend for dinner, going for a hike on a trail you have been dying to explore – whatever feels joyful to you. Remember, the goal is to incentivize yourself.
When you feel hesitation creeping in it’s important to make a shift. Start with these four simple steps and remember this quote by Henry Ford:
‘Whether you believe you can, or believe you can’t – you’re right.”
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