We all put things off. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to hold off. Doing so can help us focus and prioritize. When holding off becomes habitual, that is when things start to spin out of control.
If you are a procrastinator, breaking out of a rut can seem altogether impossible. The truth is, your access to freedom is much easier to obtain than you realize. If you are currently feeling trapped, try some of this quick and easy fixes:
1. Recognize the patterns that set you off
If you start paying attention, you will be able to recognize repetitive patterns that lead you to procrastinate. Perhaps you take on too much, or maybe you just can’t say no to certain things (things that you would rather not do and so you put them off, even though you agreed to do them), or perhaps you need to explore your thoughts and emotions. Whatever your patterns may be, a good way to find out what they are is to keep a journal for a week and track how you use your time. Over seven days, from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed, keep track of how you spend your day. Once you are done with this exercise, you will likely discover some patterns. Knowing about what sets you off will enable you to avoid these patterns in the future.
2. Just do it (in baby steps)
Sometimes, you just have to pick yourself up and get going… This may not seem like helpful advice, but take heart because it is quite effective. The key is to lean into whatever it is that you’re putting off and take baby steps. Quite often, once you get started, you will find that it is easy to keep going. And, once you finish one task, you will find it easier to go on to the next. One by one, you will get all those things done and soon enough, the weight on your shoulders will lighten.
3. Clear your mind
Mental clutter can drain you, so much so that you will not have enough energy left to do anything else! Look at your desk (or workspace)… Is it cluttered? Organize and clean up your space. What about your to do list? If it is cluttered, take some time to reorganize things. Determine what things need to be done now versus the items that can wait until next week or next month. What if it is the most urgent items that are getting you down? If there are things that you have to be doing now, but are putting off, it’s time go deep.
4. Go deep… Why are you putting things off?
If you really can’t break out of your slump, it would be worthwhile to start looking inwards in order to pinpoint why you have a tendency to get stuck. Ask yourself: why do you put things off? It’s one thing to put off a task or two, but if you have the tendency to procrastinate in all areas of your life, your problem runs much deeper. Usually, examining your thoughts and emotions can reveal a lot. Do you have a tendency to let fear hold you back? Do you harbour doubt or think about things too much? Have you experienced some kind of failure in the past, a setback which seems to be affecting you now? Examining your thoughts and emotions will help you discover if there are any blockages that are holding you back.
When you are ready to finally stop procrastination, the cure is quite simple. Try implementing one or all of the four strategies above and you will likely be able to get moving again!