Last week, something unusual happened to me.
I came down with a severe case of procrastination.
For 3 days, every time I sat down to work, I felt an irresistible urge to check random websites, watch some videos on Youtube, or fire up a quick episode of How I Met Your Mother.
Getting myself to do any productive task was a struggle of epic proportions.
No matter what I tried, I just couldn’t stop procrastinating.
Ever felt like that? It sucks, doesn’t it?
The weird thing is, I almost never procrastinate. Focusing on the job at hand and getting sh*t done is something I take great pride in, so I usually do all in my power to get in the zone and be productive.
But last week, it just wasn’t happening.
Early Friday afternoon, I’d had enough. I made a deal with myself. I wouldn’t try to get any more work done that week, instead I’d take some time over the weekend to figure out why these uncontrollable bouts of procrastination had occurred, and how to prevent them in the future.
Come Sunday afternoon, I hiked up a mountaintop and spent several hours in deep meditation, asking for answers. I asked the divine force to guide me using several incantations and even chants in foreign tongues.
Ok I’m just kidding, I didn’t do that. But I did take some time to think and reflect on my productive meltdown. I came up with some solid solutions and strategies, and today I want to share them with you.
Here are 5 powerful strategies to help you stop procrastinating.
“Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” ~Lord Chesterfield
1. Lose The Snooze
Snoozing is something I usually never do. Even back in my swimming days, when my alarm went off at the ungodly hour of 5:00am, I’d jump right out of bed.
But last week, I indulged in a few snoozes every morning (even though my alarm was only set for 9:00am). I figured it was harmless, that it wouldn’t really make a difference in my day. But it did. It really did.
Consider this: whenever your alarm goes off and you hit snooze, you’re making the very first decision of your day, and you’re choosing procrastination. Not a good start!
You’re telling your subconscious mind that it’s OK to procrastinate, and you’re likely to do it many more times later.
When your alarm goes off, don’t be weak- just GET UP! This inspired choice will set the tone for a productive day.
2. Get Started Right Away
Ok so now that we’re out of bed and we’ve made it to work, we have 2 options:
1) Get Started Right Away
2) Mess Around For a Few Minutes
Last week, after getting to my workspace, I’d give myself permission to check out my favorite MMA news site for a few minutes, or maybe take a quick scroll down my Facebook Newsfeed to see what everyone was up to.
I figured…“a few minutes can’t hurt right?”
That decision has a HUGE impact on the rest of our day. I’ve realized that the moment we check a distracting website (news, Facebook, etc), the temptation to check it again later VASTLY increases.
It’s almost as though we’ve opened a little door in our head, and every few minutes we want to go back and hang out in that “room”. The key is to keep the door shut for as long as possible, that way the temptation will remain minimal.
When you sit down, don’t open that procrastination door, or else it’ll be tempting you all day! Get started. Go for it. Be ruthless!
3. Commit to 15 minutes
Imagine there’s a task you have to do, and you REALLY don’t feel like doing it. Every time you think about starting it, you feel this incredible resistance inside. You’d pretty much rather do ANYTHING than start…
Here’s a trick I’ve used with great success this week to get back into “productive mode”: with any task I’m not really inspired to do, I commit to doing it for only 15 minutes. After that, I get to decide if I want to continue or not.
Guess what generally happens?
The first 5-10 minutes are awkward and uncomfortable… but by the time I hit the 15-minute mark, I’ve entered “the zone” and I’m feeling pretty good, so I just want to keep going.
The hardest parts of any task are usually the dreadful anticipation beforehand and the first few minutes. But once we’re past that, we’re rolling!
Smash through that resistance with the 15-minute strategy and you’ll be on your way to completing whatever needs to be done.
4. Get An Accountability Partner
2 months ago, I joined what’s called a Mastermind Group. It’s a group of up & coming entrepreneurs who get together to support, coach, and challenge each other to become the best they can be.
Through the group, we were matched up with an accountability partner, someone with whom we shared our weekly objectives and how we were going to accomplish them.
The next week, we’d share how it went and what were able to accomplish. If we’d slacked, our partner had every right to call us out and challenge us to do better.
As you can imagine, something like can do wonders for our motivation.
Last week, interestingly enough, was the first week when I didn’t have a meeting with my accountability partner. Not only was I less organized, but I didn’t have this commitment to someone outside of me to stay focused.
To combat procrastination, find an accountability partner. It be one of your coworkers, a friend, or someone you study with. This partnership will help both you get clear on what needs to be done, stay on track, stay on track through the week, and ultimately creates the results you really want in your life.
Right now, take a second think of a person you could use as an accountability partner.
All right NOW take action! Give that person a call, send them a text/email immediately about this idea. Don’t procrastinate on that. An accountability partner will change everything, I promise.
5. Give Yourself Deadlines
One of the most powerful motivators to avoid procrastination is a looming deadline. Haven’t we all at some point spent 2 days avoiding working on an assignment, only to go into superman mode a few hours before it was due?
When there is no formal deadline for something you’re working on, just give yourself one! And then share it with someone else (ie, your accountability partner!), so you can’t back out of it.
As I’m typing this, I have 19 minutes left before the deadline I gave myself for this post. I’m in superman mode. Procrastinating isn’t even an option right now!
Ok your turn: what’s one task you’ve been procrastinating on lately?
Ok now DECIDE on a deadline for it. Commit to it.
All right, you’re on. Make it happen!!!
We all know it, procrastination sucks! It makes us feel lazy, wastes our precious time, and leads us nowhere. If we want to create our greatest life, it’s something we absolutely need to eliminate.
Now that you’ve got some strategies, there’s no excuse not to take back control of your time/life.
On this note, let’s go get some sh*t done! :)
PS What are is YOUR strategy to stop procrastinating?