Stop Sabotaging Yourself: How To Manage Procrastination

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[success]If you believe you can accomplish everything by “cramming” at the eleventh hour, by all means, don’t lift a finger now. But you may think twice about beginning to build your ark once it has already started raining. ~ Max Brooks[/success]

I procrastinate. Who doesn’t? 85% of us are procrastinators at heart.

Whether through lack of confidence, or outlandish expectations we become self-handicappers through procrastination, creating circumstances that make it difficult to experience the outcomes we want.

Stop sabotaging yourself by faffing around, marking time while life flashes by. Managing procrastination is not only possible, it’s essential.

It’s time to move forward, past the self-imposed barriers, towards a more guilt-free productive way of living. As Edward Gibbons said the winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators. 

So let’s navigate.

1. The why

None of us procrastinate because it feels good, or because we’re difficult, or lazy. Procrastination stems from our subconscious programmes. Those stories we were told and believed as kids, continue to run our life.

Fear leads you to procrastinate. Pain, shame, resentment, fear of failure, self-criticism all put the brakes on productive living.

You are not a procrastinator. Don’t accept that label. Procrastination is simply something that you do. A tool used to manage your fears connected to beginning or finishing a task. Our innermost beliefs about ourselves are being revealed.

Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it. ~ C. JoyBell C

2. The wake up call

If you have a project that you keep putting off. Take a step. Write down your reasons for why you want to do this project, as well as your reasons for why you haven’t started.

Do your motivations line up with what brings meaning into your life? Are your reasons for not starting it truly valid, or are they fear based? Your outer actions always reflect your inner feelings.

If you want your dreams to come true, the first thing you must do is wake up. ~ J.M Power.

3. The failure test

We are all blessed by having a wonderful life to live. Now we must be brave enough to live it.

Your failures are stepping stones to your success. Cherish them. Be willing to have more of them. Embrace them.  If Michael Jordan and other greats have failed their way to success, so can you.

A willingness to fail denies procrastination some of its power. Failure doesn’t kill us. Defeats don’t have to defeat us.

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. ~ Samuel Beckett

4. The beginning

Begin with something easy, however trivial. Getting started is what counts. You need that little breathless moment that says, I’m not sure how to do this.

Don’t get caught up in thinking about the challenges of the entire project. That sense of overwhelm or foreboding will create a desire to procrastinate even more.

Having to know how to start or where to start will stop you in your tracks. Anywhere will do. Start with anything.

Remember your life is bigger than any fear, bigger than procrastination.

You can dance in the storm. Don’t wait for the rain to be over before because it might take too long. You can can do it now. Wherever you are, right now, you can start, right now; this very moment. ~ Israelmore Ayivor

5. The willing heart

We are created with dreams in our hearts and hope in our spirit. It’s our nature to be visionaries, to imagine our most wonderful life and it takes persistence and a backbone of steel.

And while dreaming comes naturally to us, we must never forget that strength, dedication, and courageous action are needed to give life to those dreams.

Be willing to throw yourself out there. It’ll be okay.

Be willing to pick up today’s opportunities even though they come with fears. Be willing to be challenged by life without needing to hide in the past.

Be willing to look procrastination in the eye and say, I’m taking one small step right now. I’ll be okay. Be amazed to discover you are.

Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter. ~ Francis Chan

6. The cliffhanger technique

If all else fails try this technique. It’s the oldest trick in the book and for most people works like a charm.

Charles Dickens used it in his novels that were originally published as serials in newspapers.

It’s used by television to keep you glued to your tv set every week to discover the outcome of the last show. We ‘re looking for resolution because the mystery is thrumming away in the back of our minds. Our subconscious is churning away, seeking answers.

It’s a sort of Zeigarnik effect. Like the TV cliffhanger, once something has started you’re more inclined to go back and finish it because it’s nagging away in the back of your mind. It’s the ‘I’ve started, so I’ll finish syndrome’.

I don’t look to jump over 7 foot bars:  I look around for 1 foot bars that I can step over. ~ Warren Buffet.

How do you manage those procrastination moments? Share your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear your insights.

As always bless you for being here and reading and sharing. You’re the greatest.

Encourage one another.

Love Elle.

xox

ElleSommer
Elle Sommer is the author and founder of Live Purposefully Now, a website focused on sharing the insights and ancient wisdom that have collectively changed her life, in the desire to make a meaningful impact on yours. Trained at Coach U and having completed a year long training with Bob Proctor, her mission is to encourage and inspire others to build the business, relationships and life they want. You can also find her on Healthy Natural Oils her new website for helping you get started with essential oils for more natural health, well-being happiness and success in your life!

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24 Comments

  • Hi Elle,
    Yes, don’t we all suffer from procrastination, it’s everywhere. But your post is very inspiring and as I was reading it, it really made me think of a few things I’ve got to do and complete.

    The best friend of procrastination is of course, fear. Fear of success, fear of failure, they are very much alive in most of us at one time or another, so taking one bite at the time and taking it slow while realizing that it’s not that bad after all, really helps.

    Thanks for the encouraging post 🙂

    • Great point Sylviane, as we step out, however gingerly at first, and find it wasn’t so bad, it makes the next step a little easier and maybe even bigger. There’s a bit of magic in every brand new day that we should tap into and delight in and dance with. 🙂

  • Great post. Just one step. One baby step can lead to making a difference in our world. I had some very sad news yesterday, I discovered that one of my kids’ classmate’s parent was diagnosed with a terminal cancer. My children are 5 and 7, just to give you an idea of what this person is leaving behind. I know adversity doesn’t have to be, or rather shouldn’t be the catalyst for action, but boy oh boy do I feel like I am wasting opportunities if I sit here and procrastinate today. I have my life fully ahead of me and if all it takes is a small step, I’ll take it, if for no other reason than to honour the life of my acquaintance. Thanks for your timely reminder . I may not always comment frequently but I am often moved to action by your blog. Thanks for your encouragement.

    • So sorry to hear such sad news Elsie. My heart goes out to family and friends, they must be feeling devastated. News such as this often proves to be a wake up call to the rest of us. Life is definitely precious and we should all be out there, taking chances, stepping out of our comfort zone and embracing the wonders of it all. In the grand scheme of things, it’s all so fleeting.

      Perspective is a great motivator for taking a baby step. Blessings. 🙂

  • I was going to read this post, and then I thought, Oh, I’ll do it later…when I have time… No, really good post! I’ve always said I’m a master procrastinator, but some of my best recipes have come from being under the gun for getting dinner on the table … but so many projects sit there unbegun. I’m going to start looking for the 1 foot bars…

    • Interesting Linda I’ve read that those who procrastinate have learned that in the last minute they’ll pull the rabbit out of the proverbial hat. And as a pretty accomplished procrastinator myself I know it’s easier just to begin the thing. But old habits…well I know you know…:-)

  • And just when I had owned the title of the “procrastinator,” I read this. I suspected that much of my procrastination was birthed in fear, resistance to getting the things I really wanted to get done but was too terrified to ever get done. But until this year, until I started committing to being more courageous, I really didn’t get it. I love the tips in this post, Elle. They couldn’t be better timed for me.

    • Hi Jessica, I love your choosing 365 days of being brave. I’d put money on it at the end of the time you won’t even recognize yourself. Living in a new state of mind will do that to you! 🙂

  • Elle, how do you keep reading my mind! 🙂 Procrastination is really not a vice – so much as a ‘wake-up’ call to re-evaluate the action – sometimes I have found it really means to tell us that what we are putting of is really of no consequence, other times – it’s exactly as you said – there are other reasons/forces at work – fear, worries etc.
    The key is when procrastination strikes, instead of being hard on ourselves and beating ourselves up over it, take a deep breath, be gentle on ourselves and slowly, slowly, move forward.

  • Caught me out here. and right in this moment as this was a later today task and a message took me to the group and distraction came upon me and my project for today has been put back.
    Yes breaking tasks down into manageable chunks and then allocating the specific time to do that is so important and something I too frequently avoid 🙂
    Thanks for you openness and the tips

  • I am really worst at procrastinating – partially because of fear of failure. usually if I give myself a bit to think about it, I get around to doing what I need to do! Thank you for the insight, Elle!

    • It’s interesting the many and diverse reasons for procrastination Cher. I think once we put our attention on what’s going on, that awareness allows us to make the shift in our thinking and thus our actions. Of course there are times when procrastinating for a bit can actually be beneficial. I think it’s the ongoing, paralyzed and doing nothing kind that get’s us into all kinds of trouble! 🙂

  • Elle,
    Your post came at the perfect time. I’ll be spending on weekend on my class report cards and I haven’t really started yet! I’ll try these techniques tomorrow as I get started! (Because of course I didn’t want to start tonight)
    Haha!!
    Betsy

    • Hi Betsy, you made me laugh. We’re all at it in some form or another aren’t we? I’m sure once you get going on those report cards you’ll get them done in no time and wonder why it was such a challenge! 🙂

  • Great timing on the article Elle! I have been needing to start putting myself on a more formal schedule (which I have been procrastinating on ;-)) I guess for me I feel my freedom is taken away. Parts of my life is based on schedule, like kids, work etc. but since I’ve gotten busier I realize that I need to schedule my fun stuff now too! I am totally resistant to it as I feel I need some freedom, man! You know what this just made me realize? That by making a schedule, I am able to do more of what I love and actually giving myself more freedom-HA! Thanks so much girl! You’re awesome!

  • The last two weeks were madness for me…thanks to the ‘flu i got angry with myself for putting things off. Then I pulled up my big girl frillies and got to work. Procrastination embarrasses me…although there are things I never seem to get around to. Loved the post.

    But there’s something I want to know, Elle. We live so far away from each other. How did you get that photo of me? The one in the jeans and red shoes? Hmm?

    • So sorry you’ve been under the weather Vidya and hopefully you’re on the mend now. 🙂 As for the pic of you, aha, my little secret. All I can say is look out you never know when I’m going to be around (in my imagination). 🙂

  • Hi Elle, yes, fear in fact plays a big part of why I procrastinate. As well as questioning myself about if I really want to do something or not. If I’m procrastinating on doing something, i have to look further to see if there’s something about the task at hand that is creating the avoidance. Is it fear, fear of failure or just something that isn’t right for me. Once I can analyze that, I can usually get the task done or not do it altogether:)

    I’ve found the best way to overcome procrastination (other than trying to understand it’s origin) is to try the small steps strategy. If I can do small parts of the project and consistently, I’m able to get it done. Otherwise, it comes across as overwhelming and paralyzing at the same time. Good tips you’ve shared here, Elle!

    • Hi Vishnu, that small step strategy seems to be an overwhelming favourite for moving beyond procrastination Vishnu. It’s almost a universal method. I think we’re on to something here! 🙂

  • Once again Elle you have crushed it; This post really gets to the heart of why we procrastinate and i love the cliff hanger suggestion. And I think the biggest challenge is to switch your thinking. What i mean is we can use our creativity to find reasons to put off doing something so why not use the same creativity to find ways to accomplish something. I mention this because your post got me to thinking about my recording videos. First, i couldn’t get the recorded volume loud enough. I solved that with a cheap headset. Next, i didn’t know how to find or add music to my video so i just sang through my intro. I am blind and don’t have a regular driver so going to my client was out at least for now. So, i took their video and recorded my thoughts around it. I have learned how to use Skype and actively encourage people to meet with me via Skype. so far no one has taken me up on it, but I’m ready when they do. and if i don’t find a person to travel with me I will eventually just start scheduling visits and arrange for a driver assistant camera operator editor etc in each city or town. I even offered to take half commissions or charge my expenses back against future commissions if my clients would arrange and pay for my visits. so, I’m looking for ways to do it rather than ways to avoid doing it. thanks for your encouragement. Take care, max

    • Hi Max, I know just how you feel. Sometimes it’s easy to just let something go. I find if I move myself into another space, take a walk in nature, enjoy some music, meditate, great ideas will pop into my head with no effort on my part. I’m imagining you find the ideal way that works for you.

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