When was the last time you put off doing something that you said you would do? Do you drag your feet when it comes to taking certain action or completing some tasks eg. public speaking, writing articles or reports, study, phone calls, paperwork, marketing, networking, starting a business, growing your business, making a business decision, etc.? Would you like to stop procrastinating and, instead, be motivated to take action?
The Cost of Procrastination
Some people have mastered the art of putting off doing certain tasks, despite knowing that they will be worse off for the delay. Research has shown that around 15% to 20% of adults regularly put off activities that would be better done right away; around 40% of people have experienced a financial loss as a result of procrastination; and procrastinators have higher stress levels and more severe health problems than people who act right away.
Three Ways to Stop Procrastinating
Here are three ways you can now get motivated and stop procrastinating:
1. Is it what you really want?
Think about the activity you have been putting off and ask yourself: “Is the activity aligned with your life purpose, business vision and goals? Will it bring you closer to your purpose/vision/goals or steer you in another direction?” By asking yourself these questions you may find that the activity is not going to help you achieve what you want and you have been putting it off for the right reason. It is important to then act on that insight.
If the activity is aligned with your purpose/vision/goals, perhaps you needed to see the fit with the big picture before you were motivated enough to do it. When we do things without a big picture context, we can feel unmotivated, see no real reason or benefit for doing it. Without a clear big picture to give us direction, we can more easily be distracted and procrastinate.
Once you are clear about the big picture, then ensure that you have clear goals with clear commitments and timeframes to help you to achieve your purpose and vision. Ensure that your goals are clear and specific enough, can be measured, are achievable and realistic, create win-wins for all concerned and have a specific time frame. People with vague goals are almost as unmotivated as those without any goals at all! Research at Hofstra University demonstrates that procrastinators who had clear intentions and specific commitments to a time were eight times as likely to follow through on the commitment than those without them.
2. Are you sufficiently motivated?
As you think about the activity that you have been putting off, how motivated do you feel about doing it? Motivation is a feeling, so do you actually feel motivated as you think about the activity or not? Do you feel other positive emotions (eg. confidence, passion, determination, etc.) or negative emotions (eg. resentment, guilt, shame, anger, etc) as you think about doing it?
It is difficult to put off doing things that you feel motivated to do. To get yourself into a motivated frame of mind, think about the last time you were really motivated to do anything eg. go on a holiday, complete a fun task, etc. As you think about that time of being motivated right now, recall the thoughts you had at the time, the images that come to mind, any sounds and the feelings of motivation. Once you are in that motivated frame of mind, you will be more motivated to do any other activity. This is because any time we think about something that motivates us, we feel motivated.
3. What meaning do you give it?
What meaning do you give to the activity that you have been putting off? Do you imagine it as being boring or fun? Do you imagine that it will take forever or be quick? Do you imagine that you will be able to do it easily or worry that you will stumble or get stuck? If you imagine positives around that activity, you will be more motivated than if you imagine the negatives.
For some procrastinators, anticipation of the task is often far worse than what the task turns out to be. Are you anticipating the task turning out well or not? By visualising the activity being a success, you will be much more motivated to take action.
Imagine how much more productive, fulfilled and successful you could be in your business and in life once you master motivation and put off procrastination!