5 Steps to Beat Procrastination

Procrastination is a slippery challenge that seems to perpetually lurk around in my life. I’ll be honest and share that I have an on-again, off-again battle with putting off taking action on important priorities or projects. We’ve all got dreams and goals we want to achieve in our day or in our life.  But when we procrastinate, we start to lose our focus, drain our energy and ultimately cause our self-esteem to plummet.

We can procrastinate about obvious things – starting the diet, preparing our tax returns, having the tough conversation with someone we love or cleaning up cluttered areas.  However, we also procrastinate in more subtle forms….What about going to bed when our bodies need sleep? Or avoiding taking quiet time to refuel yourself or assess your priorities? How often do we put off acknowledging ourselves or others or spending quality time with our children and loved ones?

Here is the 5-step process I recommend to help put an end to procrastination:

1. What Are Your Procrastination Hot Spots?
Where specifically are you procrastinating right now? Take a look at your health, your family, your finances, your home environment, and your relationships.  What are the first five things that come to mind?  Write these “hot spots” down on paper so you can assess them objectively and determine which one is THE most important for you to tackle first.

2. Build a Charge
Keep it simple. Focus on the area where your procrastination is costing you the most in terms of your energy, time, self-esteem and productivity. Then take a moment to “build a charge”.  Feel fully what it is costing you to let this area of your life fester in procrastination. Let that sink in energetically, not just intellectually.

Imagine what your life would look and feel like if this item was complete.  Notice where your energy level, focus and self-esteem would be. Tune into that feeling and imagine it’s priming your pump to get you to take action. Allow the sense of excitement and accomplishment to build within you.

3. Make a Choice
Now make your choice. Are you willing to tackle this procrastination hot spot now? If the answer is no, that’s fine but make a date as to when you’ll review that decision.  If the answer is yes, keep going.

4. Take Inspired Action
If you’re ready to tackle your procrastination, burst into taking inspired action. Get a structure in place that will help you get the job done.  Set a start and end date to motivate you. Identify what help or resources you’ll need to get it done. Block some time to take your inspired action. Some people like the “I’ll do it until it’s done approach”.  Others, myself included, prefer to create more bite-size chunks of time.  For example, to declutter the kitchen or kids’ rooms I’ll set the timer for 15 minutes or listen to 1 CD-worth of music while taking on those jobs.

5. Celebrate your Success
Don’t forget to take a moment to celebrate your accomplishment!  Don’t minimize the importance that an organized sock drawer can have on your peace of mind. Tackling one procrastination hot spot often unleashes energy and enthusiasm to tackle the next, so get ready to repeat these steps again as you tame your procrastination beast.

The journey of a thousand miles truly does begin with a single step.  Being aware of where you procrastinate is the first one. Why not start by declaring this next week a “procrastination-free” week.  If you fall off the horse and do engage in procrastination, just dust yourself off and get back on!  Our dreams are too important to all of us to let procrastination sabotage them.

© 2009 Carolyn B. Ellis

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