6 No-Fail Tips to End Procrastination
Procrastination! Just think what your life would look like if you didn't put off getting things done.
Just because you are a woman over 60 doesn't mean you have given up on long-term goals or things you want to do.
As a wise crone, you know what you need to do, so why aren't you reaching your goals?
Does this sound familiar to you?
Do you put off tasks and activities that you want or need to complete?
Do unfinished tasks stress your life and keep you from moving forward with fun projects you may want to do?
Procrastination can be tough to overcome, but you can do it!
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Why we procrastinate
Why do we procrastinate even when we know it's terrible for us and say we want to change?
I've always thought that my bad habits were a matter of laziness or a lack of willpower. However, I've learned that it's more complex than that.
Usually, we depend on self-control to get tasks done. Or a desire for the reward we receive when we have finished.
However, some demotivating or hindering factors such as anxiety, fear of failure, mental exhaustion, or a distracting environment keep us from moving forward on a goal or task.
Sometimes the reward is far in the future, such as with a health or fitness goal, and it is more difficult to stick with your plan long enough to see the results.
When these demotivating or hindering factors are stronger than your motivation, it causes procrastination.
The good news is that there are some things you can do to override these procrastination-causing influences!
Here are some suggestions to put an end to procrastination once and for all:
1. Keep a running list of essential tasks.
If you can find an article about ending procrastination that doesn't start with this tip, please share it with me!
Writing a list simplifies your day by eliminating the decision-making process.
Every time you need to make a decision, it can become a way to talk yourself out of getting started.
When you wake up each morning, your day should already be planned.
- Keep your list simple with 3-5 items you can finish within a pre-set time.
- A written list with items checked off will give you an immense sense of accomplishment.
- It is scientifically proven that the act of writing a list helps cement the plan in your mind. While you could use your computer or a phone app to keep your lists, it is better to physically write your plan on paper, even if you don't look at it again.
- Writing something down will help you feel more committed to completing it.
2. Eat that frog.
Mark Twain once said, "Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day."
In this case, "Eat that frog" means looking at your list and choosing the ugliest task to do first.
- By completing a big task, (possibly one that you really don't want to do), you will find yourself more motivated to move on to check more items off your list.
- Taking on a big task when you have the most energy makes you more likely to complete it.
- You will lift a considerable weight and enjoy the rest of the day more.
- Your frog could be the most important thing on your list. The one thing that if you do it consistently will make the biggest change in your life. Put it on the top of your list with the non-negotiable items!
Brian Tracy wrote a great book called "Eat That Frog: 21 Great Ways to Get More Done in Less Time" if you are interested in delving deeper into this process.
3. Break large tasks into smaller steps.
Don't let a giant frog intimidate you into never getting started.
- Break your big task into smaller steps, something that you can do in an hour or less. If you are trying to build a consistent habit, make the first step something you can do in 2 minutes or less.
- Write your plan down using a statement such as: "I will [activity] from [start time] to [end time] on [date or days of the week].
- Remember, if something is small enough to do, it's small enough not to do. Be committed to completing small steps, they will often make the biggest changes in your life.
- Make the first step on your list so easy you can't talk yourself out of doing it.
For instance, if you are trying to build a consistent walking habit, the first step is to put on your shoes.
Your plan is to walk at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but all you need to do now is put on your shoes at 8:00 a.m.
You are building the habit of consistency, and you may find that once your shoes are on, you will start walking!
No matter how small the step is, as long as it moves you forward towards your goal or project completion, you will succeed.
4. Just do it!
The biggest stumbling block for procrastinators is getting started.
Generally, once you take the first step, you will keep going because motivation tends to come after you get started.
Here are some ways to trick yourself into taking that first step.
- The 5-Second Rule. This rule was created by Mel Robbins, and she used it to turn her life around completely! The rule works like this: as soon as you have thought about doing something, you have 5 seconds to start, or you will talk yourself out of doing it. So immediately start counting down 5-4-3-2-1 and on one, take the first step on whatever you are thinking about doing. Here is a video to watch if you want to learn more about this process.
- Do something you want to do only while doing something you have been procrastinating about. Only listen to an audiobook or favorite podcast while you are exercising. Only watch a movie while ironing or organizing a closet. This is called "temptation bundling." Linking something you like to do with something you tend to put off doing.
- Give yourself an immediate reward. After 30 minutes of doing [something I need to do], I get to do 30 minutes of [something I want to do]; this has the added benefit of allowing you to do something you really like to do without feeling guilty because you know you should be doing something "more important."
- Tell yourself that you either do what is on your list for the planned period or can't do anything. No internet scrolling, no books, no t.v. or music. You will likely find it is better to work on your planned activity than do nothing!
5 Prioritize your to-do list.
If you have limited time or energy to get things done, it's important to put the most important items at the top of your list.
- Schedule all non-negotiable, have-to-get-done items first. Then pick just one or two items from your to-do list that you want to get done and add them to the list.
- Set a time limit for tasks and ignore all distractions during that timeframe. Turn off your phone, let calls go to voicemail, and check email and social media notifications only at a specified time.
- Make first steps for bigger projects small and doable.
- Aim to complete your list every day. If you don't reach your goals for the day, transfer the undone tasks to the next day.
6. Reframe your thoughts.
If you have negative self-talk about your ability to reach goals or finish tasks, you will not reach your goals or finish your tasks!
It is time to reframe your thoughts about those activities you want to do so you will be successful.
- First, accept that you may never want to do many items on your list, so don't wait to "feel like it" before getting started.
- It's time to parent yourself. Channel your mother telling you to get busy, or you can't go out to play!
- Visualize your future life when you complete your list. Really feel the sense of accomplishment you will have. Imagine the joy of having an organized closet, finishing a creative project, or reaching a health goal.
- Reframe your "have to" thoughts into "get to" thoughts. Instead of thinking, "I have to [activity], reframe it to, "I get to [activity]." Remember, not everyone has the ability to go for a walk or has a closet so full of clothes that it needs organization.
As a new retiree, I thought I would have no problem doing everything I needed and wanted to do when I had 40 extra hours each week. I was wrong!
It has become even more important to create a plan for my day and stick to it.
I have found that I'm good at getting chores done. The house is clean, and things are organized, but I procrastinate about taking care of myself.
I put off exercising, making healthy meals, learning how to paint, improving my French, and other things I told myself I would do once I retired.
So, my wise crone friend, what about you? What area of your life do you put off improving? Which of these tips do you think would help you the most?
Please leave a comment below about which tip you are going to use or share a tip with the community that isn't on my list.
Enjoy your day!
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