I’ve been putting off writing about procrastination. Okay, not really, but it was a joke, perhaps a bad one, just for you. A lot of people want to stop procrastinating. However, it takes more than an idea in order to actually accomplish it.
There are lots of things out there to help you stop procrastinating. They usually include things like removing distractions, making a list, rearranging the work space, or creating a time management system. All of these things are great ideas. But to truly stop procrastinating, there has to be a change in mindset.
For me, there are three parts to getting things done or not getting things done. These three parts are motivation, competence, and confidence. When we think about those who procrastinate, we often stop with the problem of motivation. We simply see them (or ourselves) as unmotivated. However, the other two areas are important as well. Let’s look at all three.
How important is it? In order to stop procrastinating, we have to really believe the task at hand is important. By the way, if it isn’t, we really need to ask ourselves whether it even needs to be done. The problem is, we have a tendency to only see urgent things as important. The truth is, there are important things that aren’t yet urgent. However, if they’re put off for very long, they will become urgent and maybe even emergencies.
If the task is important enough to make the to-do list, what is ahead of it? What things are there right now that are more important than that task? If there are a bunch of things, then it may mean you have put too many other things off for too long.
There may be something you don’t know. That’s ok. Determine what you don’t know instead of just saying, “I don’t know how.” That’s an excuse. What parts do you not know how to do? Is this something you can learn? The, “I don’t know how” excuse doesn’t really hold water if you have the means to learn what you need to know. As an aside, if you don’t have the means to learn what you need to complete the task, you have to question whether you should be doing it in the first place.
Sometimes, admitting we need to learn something is difficult. This is especially true if we have some belief that we should already know it. Don’t be afraid to read instructions. For bigger issues, we might need to go to a class, read a book, or get a coach.
Do you believe you can complete the task? Can you actually do it? If not, why? Assuming it is important enough to do and you have the competence to do it, what are you afraid of? Take a look at your past successes. Draw upon that experience. It is likely that you were afraid of something then as well, but you made it and the big bad thing probably didn’t happen.
We don’t like to be uncomfortable. If I am going to stop procrastinating, I am going to have to be okay with being uncomfortable. Don’t underestimate this. We procrastinate because we want to maintain the status quo. In order to stop procrastinating, we have to be willing to allow a task (either large or small) to interrupt the status quo. Until we’re willing to do that, we won’t get the job done.
This ultimately goes back to importance. Is this thing big enough to interrupt my status quo? If it is important, overall, it may not be big enough today but it will be at some point. Maintaining the status quo of my day-to-day is comfortable. Throwing a wrench into that causes discomfort, which is ultimately a lack of confidence that things are okay. Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable causes you to move your hand from a hot stove. It’ll ultimately do you some good!
There’s one additional issue related to confidence. Perfectionism will cause constant fear that something isn’t just right. Get rid of perfectionism because perfect doesn’t exist! If you’re always afraid of not having everything exactly right, this will rob you of your confidence to actually complete the task.
You didn’t put off reading this short article so you have proven you can stop procrastinating! Make important things the important things to improve your motivation. Learn what you need to learn to improve your competence. Recognize the value in discomfort to improve your confidence. You’re on your way!
What things have you implemented that have helped you stop procrastinating? Feel free to comment. We would love to hear from you!