Aug 142011

5 Tips To Stop Procrastination

Procrastination can be a real negative.  It can keep you from reaching your goals.  In fact, procrastination, by its very nature, can keep you from ever getting started.

So if we can agree that in most cases procrastination is something to be avoided, let’s talk about what you can do to overcome it.

Procrastination Ending Tip #1:  Break your goals down into smaller pieces

Break your goals down into smaller, more manageable chunks, so they are not intimidating to the point that they keep you from getting started.  For example, if you want be able to run a half marathon, don’t just simply put down “run half marathon” on your list of goals and leave it at that.  If you approach it that way, it’s likely that you will procrastinate endlessly and never even take one step in the direction of your goal.  However, if you break your half marathon goal down into a four-month schedule that tells you what you need to do each day, gradually building up the level of challenge, procrastination will be less likely to set in.

Procrastination Ending Tip #2:  Do the hardest stuff early in your day

Everyone has certain tasks that they dread doing.  It does not matter what your endeavor is.  It could be sports, business, or family activities – anything that you are committed to achieving.  Regardless of the particular goal we’re talking about, there will typically be some things you need to do that, to be kind, let’s say are “not your favorite”.  You know what they are.  If you’re a triathlete, maybe you love running and cycling, but could do without the swimming.  If you’re an entrepreneur, maybe you love all aspects of your business except cold calls.  You get the idea.  It does not matter what your least favorite activity is, or why.  My suggestion to you is that you do that activity, or those activities, first thing in the morning.  It will make it much harder for you to come up with excuses to delay doing it.  It will also give you a great sense of accomplishment to have it out of the way as you move through the rest of your day.  Give it a try and you’ll see what I mean.

Procrastination Ending Tip #3:  Overcome your fear of failure

In order to stop procrastinating, you must overcome your fear of “failure”.  The good news is that most of us live in a society that is very forgiving of mistakes and “failure”.  The examples of entrepreneurs, athletes, politicians and achievers from all walks of life who’ve “failed” dozens of times before doing something spectacular are numerous. Before you can overcome any tendency you may have to procrastinate, you must forget the traditional notion of failure.  Begin to think more like the famous inventor Edison, who said, “I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward”.  If you are not making mistakes, you are not pushing your limits, and thus you are limiting what you can accomplish.  For many people, the fear of failure is what causes them to procrastinate constantly.  Do not be one of those people.  Being willing to take risks and stop procrastinating.

Procrastination Ending Tip #4:  Publicly commit to key goals with deadlines

One of the greatest ways to not get caught up in the inertia of procrastination is to publicly commit to certain goals and also commit to a deadline.  I’ve used this approach quite a bit and I’ve recommended it to many clients, usually with great results.  There is something about having publicly committed to doing something that forces us to dig down deep, stop procrastinating and make it happen.  The easiest goals to do this with are races (running, cycling, etc.).  They’re easier because they happen on a certain date and often the results are publicized, so anyone to whom you’ve committed can and probably will look up your race results on the internet.  It can work for other types of goals though too and if they’re things that are slightly more personal, you may just commit to them with a family member.  Better yet, if a family member or friend has similar goals, you can work toward them together and this will really help you overcome procrastination.  If your goals are business oriented, find another entrepreneur to buddy up with and you can help push each other and end potential procrastination.

Procrastination Ending Tip #5:  Set goals that truly motivate you

Not surprisingly, I’ve found that if you set goals that truly motivate you, you’ll find it easier to stop procrastinating.  If, on the other hand, you set goals that don’t really get you fired up, you will find it much easier to procrastinate and eventually, forget about those goals altogether.  Depending how you think, it may motivate you more to set super-challenging goals.  I know that’s the case with me.  I have to give myself goals that when I think about what it will be like to complete them, I can say to myself, “if you complete this, you will have done something great”.  It’s OK if the interim and smaller goals leading up to the “big goal” are not blockbusters, but for me at least, the final outcome has to be something extraordinary.  The way I look at it is that life is too short not to set extraordinary goals for yourself that will push you to do things that you can feel really good about.

So there you have it – 5 tips to overcome procrastination.  I’d love to hear your comments and other ideas for how to overcome procrastination.  Leave a comment below!

Paul Morin