Overcoming procrastination

man showing the common bad habit of putting things off

Halfway through the day I had my heart set on writing a great post for my valued readers. Fast forward to the end of the day and BAM! My mind was throwing everything it could at me to stop working and just open a beer, forget the post, and relax.

This happens to all of us from time to time. No one can always be in a chipper mood, just looking to get that project done day in and day out.

bored formal man watching laptop at desk
“I looked similar to this I’m sure.”

In this article I want to touch on how procrastinating can kill your climb up the latter of success, and really make you blind to your potential.

After we know what procrastination is and how it holds us back, let’s touch on some ways to kill procrastination once and for all.

“I really need to get going on things. Maybe tomorrow screw it.”

How about this gem. “I need to get in the gym but it’s Tuesday, it’s better if I start on Monday anyway.”

Any of this sound familiar? It sure does for me. This is one of my main go to excuses for not hitting the gym to get my 45 minute workout in.

So what’s happening here and how do we correct it?

Understand what causes procrastination

Going back to my article Listen to your gut I touch a little on how important controlling your own mind is.

The first thing we need to understand is that your mind will ALWAYS do what it can to keep you comfortable and safe. We are designed by nature to avoid danger and stay in a relatively relaxed state.

This is why we can’t stand anxiety. As humans it triggers a highly uncomfortable and fearful state. Anyone that has ever experienced anxiety knows exactly what I am talking about.

Although anxiety is not fun we can learn from it a little. The lesson here is we do not like being out of a repetitive and comfortable state.

When we procrastinate something it’s usually the thought of what we have to do, not the thing itself that usually causes us to put it off. Our rational mind knows that a task needs to be done. It’s really just a little work. But our comfort seeking side picks up on this. Immediately we start to rationalize the reasons why we can’t do that thing right now.

Take going to the gym, I have a really bad habit of being a “start on Monday guy.” Everything needs to start on Monday or it just does not feel right.

Instead of going to the gym to bust out my workout I drive right by, then justify it because if I go now it will screw up my whole routine plan.

The reality is I am just fooling myself

Truly on those days I just don’t want to go, and that’s ok.

The problem lies when you start to pull this crap with everything in your life.

In order to put your foot on the throat of this thing you need to put things into perspective. You need to train your mind and have goals that are above all else. Including your comfort.

Understand that everything you put off today will ride your coat tails until you address it. Anytime I feel like my mind is starting to shift into later mode I immediately take conscious control.

Easier said than done I know, but after a few times it becomes easier to get a hold on your thoughts in that moment.

Some ways to train your mind

Take my example of writing a specific blog post for the week. I think about what I’m going to write all day while I’m at work. The excitement builds as I think of all the ways I can word things and phrases to help my readers.

Sometimes though the day drags on and on. I wrap up things and head home exhausted. On the way home it hits…….” I’ll write that post tomorrow, I need to see what I’m going to write about again anyway. That first idea was kind of lame.” “Yeah, I’m beat anyway, tomorrow I’ll be fresh.”

This ends with me saying the same thing to myself the next day and possibly the next. It’s a bad habit that needs to be put in it’s place.

Whatever your situation is procrastination robs you of success. Slowly and surely you lose ambition and give up.

One of the biggest assets ALL successful people have is the ability to shut off these thoughts and push through anyway

Do they have some super power that we do not? Absolutely not. What they do have is a iron will to progress and reach their goals. Many people tend to think that successful business owners are just lucky. Or that the great dad down the street with a nice house, beautiful kids, and a happy life with his wife is some special case.

The truth is these people know what is important and they don’t constantly put off things needed to have it.

“Never put off what can be done today for tomorrow”

Think of this, procrastination gives you a good feeling in the moment. Your mind gets the satisfaction of relaxing and putting something off until the very end.

That thing you put off though does not go away, it grows and grows. If it’s something important for your progress in life you will have it in the back of your mind until it’s done. With that you start to build up this feeling of dread and anticipation.

Doing the thing is probably simple, but your mind will start to make it into the most dreaded thing ever. This will push it away more and more until it starts to affect your progress through life.

I have done this in my own business. Believe it or not I hate writing invoices for my customers. I literally have put off sending someone a bill for weeks, even when the account needed the funds. How ridiculous that I have actually done this.

Is writing a bill so hard for me that I can’t do it? Well seeing that I love blogging to reach and help my audience through my words I would say no.

It’s more the thought of doing it that stops me. Once I get started its no problem, I actually feel good when I am done.

Here are some ways to put procrastination in it’s place

# 1 Realize what is really important

Take some time to write down a list of your goals and ambitions. Some examples are.

Where do you want to be in five years?

What makes you truly happy?

Write down anything that comes to mind and read it over to yourself. Be completely honest with yourself here. Find out what makes you tick a little. Once you have that established it’s a lot easier to internalize it and have that list ready in your mind when good ole’ Mr. Procrastinate shows up.

#2 Get in the driver’s seat

After you have set what you want out of life make a conscious effort to remind yourself that you are in charge of this life and no one else.

I like to pretend I’m getting into the cockpit of a F-16.

flight flying airplane jet

Weird I know, but that strong mental visual will come in handy. Your life is that F-16, when you feel like putting something important off just think of your list and then think of that jet. You are flying…. Tell yourself this and mentally visualize yourself steering into the front lines like the badass you are. Before you know it you will be doing the thing!

# 3 Understand what procrastination costs

Every time you put off something important you are not progressing. A fun way to save a few bucks and test yourself is make yourself a procrastination account. This can be a fun game that also has some purpose.

Get a jar or bank whatever. Then take a look at the list we made and prioritize the most important items to get done all the way to the least. Next put a price on each. You can tweak your own numbers but I use dollar bills. Make a price for each item and pay yourself every time you get one item done, then cross it off the list.

Make a deadline date for each item and stick to it. If you make the deadline pay yourself the price of that item. If you miss a deadline take the money out, this is a cool way to hold yourself accountable and save a few bucks at the same time. You will get motivated to build up your “account.” This will also help push you to keep moving forward, it makes you accountable.

Wrapping up

Procrastination is something we all deal with from time to time. We must keep this robber in check if we want to see success in our lives no doubt. Remember though, it is ok to relax and re energize as well and this should be a item on your list. Stay strong, push hard but don’t burn yourself out.

Even an F-16 needs to refuel every flight

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