5 Simple Ways to Beat Procrastination
Have you ever felt like you had a million things to do but no idea where to begin? Have you ever put off something extremely important only to feel rushed and underwhelmed with your performance once you actually got started? Have you ever given up on something, a hobby, a project, a relationship because you just didn’t want to do what was necessary to revive it?
We’ve all been there. We’ve all struggled to figure things out. We’ve all scratched our head in confusion not knowing how to get ourselves away from the TV or Facebook or (insert your avoidance mechanism of choice here) so that we can move forward in our lives.
I’ve got some tips for you! Here are some ways I’ve learned to beat procrastination and perfectionist tendencies and make decisions from an authentic, loving, respectful place!
1. Ask yourself what you get out of doing this task.
This question can change your entire perspective in a couple of minutes. If you take the time to write down five beneficial things that happen when you finish the thing you’re trying to avoid, you’re welcoming in a a new understanding of the situation. Instead of believing that doing the dishes is an annoying waste of time, you begin to see it as part of the journey towards a clutter-free clean home! and if you truly value a clutter-free, clean home… dishes will become a great part of your day! If you don’t value a clutter-free, clean home… if just reading that phrase makes you want to break all of the dishes in the sink instead of washing them… try finding another benefit (something that you really enjoy and desire). Maybe doing the dishes gives you time to listen to audiobooks and if you didn’t have that time when your hands were occupied and you couldn’t do anything else, you’d never get to fill your mind with new stories and knowledge.
Procrastination is another way of saying you really don’t value what you’re about to do. You don’t care. You don’t see the benefit. And typically, when we don’t see the benefit of something it's because we’re looking at it through someone else’s lens. We’re supposed to like exercising because it will keep us at an ideal weight and we’ll be more attractive. But maybe that popular reasoning doesn’t resonate with you! So reframe it… maybe you believe that exercise helps you focus more. Or maybe when you exercise you feel more connected to your spirituality.
Maybe finishing that work project on time to please your boss doesn’t sit well with you and it just makes you want to put it off until the very last second. But if we reframe that, and decide that getting that project done will give you more time to spend with your loved ones, stress-free and clear minded, maybe you can find motivation to get it done.
When you list all of the benefits you’ll get by completing a particular task, it’s difficult to continue putting it off. You become pulled toward action by your intrinsic motivation - not forced to complete your to-do list because that’s just how it’s supposed to be.
You run your life! You decide what things mean for you. You determine why you’re doing something. Take your power back!
2. So maybe you’ve reframed the things you have to do… and maybe you’re even feeling excited about doing them, but now you’re faced with trying to figure out where to start. How do you get it all done? How do you magically become Super Woman and bust out super powers that turn your life into The Happiest Place on Earth? I think a lot of people would tell you that it’s impossible. But I also think that everyone speaks from their limited perspective… from their understanding of the truth. If you feel like your current task completion strategy makes it simple for you to get everything done, then maybe your life does feel like a wonderful trip to Disneyland. (If you like Disneyland, that is). Maybe you feel like if you’re getting things done that matter to you - then you are Super Woman! If you don’t feel that way right now...
...try breaking down your bigger tasks into simple steps.
Sometimes one huge task feels impossible so we give up before we even begin. If you’re worried about changing the way you’re eating right now, start with something that feels good to you! Do you love zucchini? Great! Add that to your meals. Start there. Let that be enough. Trying to become the most perfect, healthy, “clean eating” addict in less than 5 seconds will probably send you straight into overwhelm. It might make you not want to start changing your diet at all. Make it simple for yourself.
Write down three small steps you can take so that you’ll feel healthier on a daily basis. Maybe you decide to add Zucchini to two meals a day. Maybe you decide to jump on the meatless Monday bandwagon. And then maybe you decide to consult with a dietitian or health coach so that you can get more advice and a new perspective on food. These decisions might not happen in one day or one week even. But at least you’ll be getting started. You’ll have a plan. And you’ll be proud of yourself for making progress.
3. Stop thinking and get into action.
So you made your plan (from step 2 up above). You did your research. You created a plan involving some simple steps instead of trying to change your entire life at once… But now you don’t know where to start. You look at the steps and you’re just not sure if they’ll work… if you’re interested enough… if it matters enough to you… if things will turn out the way you’d hoped… Look, I get it! I am a recovering over-thinker. I used to contemplate and consider and analyze until I had migraines. I used to think about every possible outcome until I was completely paralyzed by fear and indecision. I used to waste so much time thinking about how I could make something perfect. Waiting for the perfect time to magically appear so that I could jump into something with minimal consequences and criticisms.
Until I got really tired of thinking. I got tired of realizing if I would have started yoga, blogging, a project, a dinner when I started thinking about it - I would be already getting the result I wanted!
Start imperfectly. Begin before you’re ready. Say yes to whatever’s calling you forward. Take action now - the more you overthink the situation, the less time you’ll have to actually DO the thing you want to do. Pick a place to begin - and go for it! It doesn’t have to be perfect. Give yourself permission to try something out. Give yourself permission to be a beginner, to be a human being.
4. Move your body.
You have a plan, you’re feeling motivated, but you still don’t know how to get yourself in gear? Moving your body might help you out!
I used to be the type of person who would completely roll her eyes at a tip like this. I used to think there was no way the state of my body had that much of an impact on the clarity and strength of my mind. I was so wrong.
When the energy of your body is stagnant, when you’re stiff and tense and knotted up in your back or neck or hips (or anywhere else)… your mind becomes knotted and tense in a similar way. When you begin moving your body again (in some way that you enjoy - don’t just do something because other people tell you that a particular exercise or movement is the best one. The best one is the one that works well for you and your lifestyle) you release pent up energy and things begin to flow - blood, energy, ideas… and those things inspire you to take action! You’ll actually feel like getting things done when you’ve energized your body!
5. Accept that whatever you’re trying to get accomplished might not turn out the way you’d hoped. Understand that it might also be fantastic.
“Bad” and “good” outcomes are two side of the same coin. Neither is better or worse than the other. We’ve been conditioned to think that bad and good experiences are completely cut and dry. We’ve been trained to think that if something bad happens, we have to suffer. If we believe we’ve contributed to something bad happening, we must be punished. If anything we don’t want occurs in our life it means we probably deserve it somehow, and we have to fight our way out of the situation. This isn’t always the case! It’s only the case if we decide to understand our reality in this way.
If we want to, we can decide that a “bad” experience isn’t really bad after all. We can redefine badness. What if bad meant that you’re one step closer to what you really want? What if bad meant that you had a really interesting life experience? What if bad meant you had a really funny story to tell? What if bad meant that you’re becoming more and more wise every day? What if bad meant you experienced on of the infinite of outcomes possible for you? What if bad meant you learned a really important lesson?
Whatever you decide to believe about your “bad” situation, choose an interpretation that FEELS GOOD to you. Choose an understanding that allows you to step into your power and into compassion, not away from it. Once you accept that you have the ability to interpret the situation in a way that benefits you, you’ll be able to approach your activity with joyous, open energy instead of analytical fear.
Start with what you love… and if you don’t yet know what you love, start with what’s interesting. Start with curiosity. Start with what feels good for you. You’ll be getting things done in no time!
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