We all procrastinate for one reason or another. Don’t beat yourself up (FYI: refer to #6) instead be mindful: recognize when it is happening, identify why, and find healthy solutions to get out of the rut and back into the creative and productive swing of things.
Here are six proactive go-to’s to support and inspire pushing past the procrastination blues.
Complete projects and to-do lists in increments of time.
Sometimes what keeps you from moving forward with projects or to-do list items associated with a larger goal is the amount of time you THINK has to be dedicated to them, but who says you have to complete everything all at once? You may not have a large chunk of time in your daily schedule; however, there are always increments of time in your day that can be allocated for a portion of what you want to accomplish. Do a time assessment check; figure out when those open moments occur, and then use them wisely. Whether it’s a 30-minute block in the morning or an hour at night before bed, it’s yours. Dive in, and before you know it you’ll be closer to completion.
One of my favorite podcasts is Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert. Episode 202: Make the Brutal into the Beautiful features Brandon Stanton, creator of Humans of New York. He was sharing words of wisdom about making time for what you want to do, and this statement struck a cord: “Take your huge dreams and narrow them down into units that you can control. Take what is expansive and turn it into something more granular.”
Organize/Change your work space.
Organizing your work space can make all the difference. You may be blocked creatively because you haven’t let go of things you no longer need. Organizing and also throwing away what doesn’t serve a purpose anymore not only clears the space but your mind, shifting the energy in a direction that says, “Yes, I’m ready to move forward.” In the words of Marie Kondo in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, “To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.” Make room mentally and physically.
Keep the commitments you make.
Show that your word is your bond. When you do what you say you’ll do, others will know you’re reliable. It establishes trust and positive relationships and collaborations – a great motivator to get out of the “procrastination funk” and can be the gateway to new opportunities for you.
Keep your commitments to yourself to cultivate self-discipline and to avoid self-sabotage. You’ll feel good about your follow-through and be even more inspired to push past putting things off.
Pinpoint and be honest about what’s holding you back.
Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to procrastination. Dig deep, and ask yourself, “Why am I procrastinating?” Don’t suppress the answers that come; in fact, get out your journal and do an exercise I refer to as The Writing Dump: draw a line down the center of a page: On the left list your answers as to why you’re in delay – Is it fear of failure? Not feeling prepared enough? Too far out of your comfort zone? Lack of support/resources? Now on the right of the page, list the reasons why you want to start the project or accomplish the goal you’ve set. Express how it’ll make you feel to complete something you set out to do.
Sometimes, in order to get the ball rolling, all it takes is being honest with yourself. When you’re finished with The Writing Dump create a few affirmations to support taking positive action. To help you get started, take a look at 4 Affirmations You Need to Know and Lessons to Learn from Octavia Butler.
Get an accountability partner.
Find a trusted friend or colleague you can work and communicate with during the week. Do check-ins on your progress. She doesn’t have to be working on the same projects/tasks as you. The main focus is supporting each other through completion of your respective plans of action. Create a designated time and place to meet, and then get to work. There are work space communities designed specifically for these kinds of connections, meetings and collaborations. Take advantage of them. You can’t always do it alone.
Self-criticism does not “whip you into shape” any faster. In fact, it’s a sure way to propel you further down the rabbit hole of fear, insecurity, anxiety and overwhelm, so refrain from using negative phrases and language when referring to yourself and your situation. Be motivated by self-love not harm. You are not lazy. You are not apathetic. Stick to what is true about who you are, and practice self-compassion. If you just don’t feel like doing it, then lean into that. Step away. Take a breather. You’ll be able to revisit with a fresher perspective. Kristin Neff, author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself says, “When we experience warm and tender feelings toward ourselves, we are altering our bodies as well as our minds. Rather than feeling worried and anxious, we feel calm, content, trusting, and secure. Self-kindness allows us to feel safe as we respond to painful experiences, so that we are no longer operating from a place of fear — and once we let go of insecurity we can pursue our dreams with the confidence needed to actually achieve them.”
BONUS: Turn up the volume on your favorite song, and then dance! Let go. Find your motivation through music. Clear the energy with a dance party for one (or two, or three if you want to include your accountability partners). Release some of your anxiety by moving your body. Have fun. You’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.
Which one of these six go-to tips do you connect with most? Share in the comments. Let’s discuss.
Ayanna Jordan is founder of The Phoenix Rising Collective. As principal consultant and leadership development coach, she develops and facilitates dynamic women-centered workshops and programs with a focus on how putting self-love into action can transform your life. She also creates coaching and training that empowers women’s professional growth in authentic leadership, entrepreneurship, and passion-filled work. Her interactive approach inspires action and creates a non-judgmental, sacred space for women to truly explore their personal and professional goals while gaining support and sisterhood from others who’ve also made a commitment to sustaining self-love.