Are you having trouble overcoming procrastination? Is there something in your life that you have been putting off?
Perhaps you’ve been “planning”, but not actually doing anything to start that big project you want to do.
Whether it’s the small project of decluttering your office or your life-long dream of starting your own business, we all need to find a way to jumpstart our motivation once in a while.
So today, I want to share with you 10 tips you can use for overcoming procrastination with any project you want to accomplish.
1. Commit to the Decision
The first thing you have to do is to make a decision to overcome procrastination and achieve your goal.
The word decision comes from the Latin word “decidere”, which means to cut off all other options, including the option of not doing it.
Once you have this level of commitment to your goal, you will feel more emotionally attached to its success – like a promise to yourself.
2. Make a Public Declaration
To give yourself a sense of accountability, tell a friend or colleague at work, or better yet, a group of people, that you have decided to achieve your goal and are going to overcome procrastination.
A public declaration will help put your feet to the fire. Research has shown that just declaring your goal to another person increases your chance of completing it by 8%.
The next step is to answer two questions. Set aside some time and write out the answers to these two questions:
3. Determine the Cost of Failure
Ask yourself, “What are the cost or consequences of my not taking the actions I need to take to handle this thing I have been putting off?”
Try to picture yourself five years from now. Where will you be in your life if you don’t overcome this milestone? How will your life look? How will you feel emotionally if you still have not started working towards your goal?
4. Visualize the Benefits of Success
On the other hand, ask yourself, “What are the potential benefits of my completing my goal? Take one minute visualizing the completed result.
See your clean, organized spacious workspace. See all the details of your remodeled kitchen. And remember to feel the feelings you would feel if you had already completed the task or the project as you visualize it.
Write down the benefits you will have after complete what you set out to do. Then, as a way to keep yourself motivated, read the answer every day until you have completed it.
5. Break it Down
Sometimes we procrastinate because we don’t know where to begin. So start by breaking large projects into milestones that you’ll need to reach along the way, and then into smaller, action steps.
For example, steps for writing a book might include:
- Deciding upon the main message of the book.
- Brainstorming everything you currently know about the topic.
- Conducting research.
- Deciding on the content and the order of the chapters.
- Outlining each chapter
- Completing a first draft of the book.
- Writing a book proposal.
- Finding a literary agent or a publisher.
- Designing the cover.
- Publishing the book.
When you are able to look at each small step individually, it will seem much more attainable to tackle one thing at a time and make incremental steps towards your big goal.
6. Utilize Your Resources
Now if you don’t know what to do to complete the thing or things you’ve been putting off, reach out to someone who has already done it for help in one of the following ways.
For example, if you want to declutter your home or office, but don’t know where to start, there are tons of good books with simple and practical tips on how to start and how to finish decluttering.
Two that I love are:
- “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo
- “New Order: A Decluttering Handbook for Creative Folks (and Everyone Else)” by Fay Wolf.
Another way to find out what you need to do is to hire people who have already done what you want to do as a consultant, go to one of their seminars, or ask them to mentor you.
7. Make an Action Plan
Next, write out a detailed action plan and then schedule your action steps for overcoming procrastination and completing the task.
Once you have figured out what steps you need to take, go to your calendar and schedule blocks of time to work on completing the project.
If there are just a few simple steps required to complete it, like getting the tires on your car rotated, just write the activities into your schedule. For example you may list activities such as “Call the tire dealer Wednesday at 9am,” and, “Take the car in Saturday at 10am.”
As all the research on high productivity will tell you, you should always work from a schedule, not a to-do list.
8. Find an Accountability Partner
For the tasks that are large, hard, or even a bit scary, consider working with an accountability partner.
This type of partner is typically someone who is:
- Equally committed to getting things done in their life
- Strong enough to keep you focused
- Will not accept your excuses for not doing it
Once you find your accountability partner, agree to check in every day with them at the same time to monitor your progress.
This way you have another person supporting you to overcome procrastination and complete the task.
9. Create an Affirmation
Create an affirmation that affirms you have already completed the project, such as “I am so happy and grateful that I have completely decluttered my office.”
10. Reward Yourself
Last, when you have finished the project, reward yourself for having completed it.
I suggest you decide in advance what the reward will be. For small things, it might simply be taking a 15-minute break to take a walk outside, doing five minutes of stretching, or taking a colleague to lunch.
For bigger projects it could range from going to a movie, eating out a nice restaurant, or getting a spa treatment, all the way up to taking a weekend vacation or buying yourself something you’ve been wanting for a long time.
We used to always celebrate with our whole staff after completing a “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book by drinking champagne accompanied by gourmet snacks before we would put the manuscript in the mail.
Rewarding your inner child for cooperating with the work that the inner adult needed to get done assures that your inner child, which would rather play or procrastinate for any number of reasons will be willing to cooperate with getting it done in the future.
When you reward yourself for overcoming procrastination, it reinforces the habit of getting things done in the future.
As the beloved originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series, Jack Canfield fostered the emergence of inspirational anthologies as a genre—and watched it grow to a billion dollar market. As the driving force behind the development and delivery of over 100 million books sold through the Chicken Soup for the Soul® franchise, Jack Canfield is uniquely qualified to talk about success. Jack is America’s #1 Success Coach and wrote the life-changing book The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be and Jack speaks around the world on this subject. Check out his newest book The 30-Day Sobriety Solution: How to Cut Back or Quit Drinking in the Privacy of Your Own Home. Follow Jack at www.jackcanfield.com and sign up for his free resources today!
Image courtesy of Johnny Cohen.