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Welcome to adulthood. The land of paying bills, never having enough money to do so, desperately trying to get eight hours of sleep, but also constantly having to get stuff done. And as a procrastinator, you’re not loving this transition. Yes, procrastinating might have worked in college (overnighters were your jam), but it doesn’t quite have the same effect now. In fact, it’s finally time to learn how to stop procrastinating – or else you’re worried you might drown in your own anxious adult head!
One of the biggest reasons you have become Queen of Putting Things Off is because you shut down when you are faced with an extremely overwhelming task. It’s way too much to face all at once. So what do you do?
Probs take a nap. Or maybe clean the living room if you’re feeling semi-productive.
Point is, you don’t even try to attempt to start whatever project is hanging over your head. It’s too much. So you gotta break it down.
Every project has steps. You don’t complete something all at once. You create drafts. Write out steps. Prep with flashcards. Make a plan. Then you move onto the first part. And then the second. And then all of a sudden, you’re rolling. And editing. And putting the final touches on……and…..oh my word…..you FINISHED!
Yes, it sounds simple, but it really does work. If you have a daunting task in front of you that you simply CANNOT start, break down your project into five concrete steps.
If this doesn’t make sense for your project, that’s fine. It doesn’t REALLY matter how you break it down, as long as you only zero in on ONE aspect of your project at a time. If you can do that, you are way ahead of the game.
Projects can’t just get done in the spare minutes you have between your daily routine. It doesn’t work like that. You have to actually set aside a chunk of time every day to work on this.
A lot of my clients love The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod because it challenges you to make the most of your mornings. For any of you with early bird circadian rhythms, I highly recommend this. Get up and get going. Put this project on your to-do list early on so you can get it out of the way and not have to think about it for the rest of your day. It will decrease your anxiety and give you a solid timeline on when you can expect for this project to be complete.
For the rest of you non-morning people (P.M. lovers, if you will), you aren’t totally screwed. It is true that it is *very* difficult to adjust your circadian rhythm, so if 6am isn’t gonna happen for you, try something else. Afternoon, evening, 10pm…it doesn’t matter. Just make sure to carve out time THEN. Work with yourself. Set yourself up for success. Don’t force a time frame that you know is going to be miserable. Make it fun! If you want to stay up an hour later every night to get something done, I’m all for it. As long as you know exactly when you are going to work on this project, you will be much better off.
None of these overly ambitious “I’ll have this done by tomorrow” or loosey goosey “sometime next week” deadlines.
None of that.
You have to set a firm, realistic, achievable deadline. One that you have really thought about. You know yourself. You know if you’re a fast reader or a quick writer or an efficient planner. You also know if you get easily distracted, need little breaks in between, or need extra time to process information.
So incorporate these idiosyncrasies of yours into your deadline. What makes most sense when you consider your need for fifteen minute breaks in between coupled with your ability to power through reading instructions? Your deadline doesn’t have to match anyone else’s as long as you have a plan to get it done.
Working in the same place you sleep, eat, or hang out might not be the best way to crank up your productivity. If you aren’t totally gung-ho about this project in the first place, you are going to find every distraction in the book to keep you from doing what you need to be doing.
So change it up.
Don’t give yourself the option to be distracted. Leave your phone behind. Choose a place that doesn’t have wifi if you don’t need the Internet to complete your project. Go to a coffee shop, a library, visit your office – whatever environment you believe to be essential to your productivity, go there.
You know that feeling when you cross something major off your to-do list and take a deep breath of gratitude?
That is going to be your light at the end of the tunnel until this project is over with. Think of your non-anxious self and how much fun you are. Plan a celebratory “this stupid ass project is finally done!” dinner and incorporate that into your fabulous deadline. Just remember that sometime in the near future you are going to get it done and you WILL feel amazing – so why not start as soon as possible to get there faster?
I know. It might not be the easiest motivator, but paired with these other tips, it could be the last piece of the puzzle to get you started.
No matter how hard you work on this project, it is not going to be perfect.
I am all about you giving it your all but not at the expense of your health. Chasing unrealistic expectations is not only going to drive you crazy, it’s going to cut into your sleep, take up all of your free time, and nag you day in and day out. Seriously – you are going to wear yourself thin if you focus on perfect instead of completion.
Don’t drag out the process. Learn how to let go of being perfect and embrace the “good enough.”
Make someone your designated “check in” buddy. Goodness knows you have a hard time keeping yourself on schedule, so why don’t you give the burden to somebody else? Make sure there is a firm agreement – you can’t ask any flakes and you can’t just put this on someone else (that’s a great way to ruin a friendship). Come up with expectations on how often they need to check in and what your “buzz words” are. What reminders will fire you up? Something to do with time? Encouragement? Consequences? Whatever you know will get you in the mood, help your accountability partner out so she can say the magic words.
Ya. I bet. It’s the worst. And remember that accountability partner I mentioned? Well…if you want to save your friendships…you could always just hire a life coach! Much cleaner, much more efficient, and MUCH more motivating. We are professionals and we know how to help. Join us today!