The funny thing about procrastination is that we hate doing it when we’re doing it, but it’s hard to stop. Hell, I am up late doing this article right now solely because I procrastinated until the last minute. Procrastination can be a serious pothole to whatever your goal is.
Before you can fix the issue, you need to first figure out what kind of procrastinator you are. There are three types:
1. Ping Pong Procrastinator
Who you are: You are full of great ideas. This great quality about you tends to make you the go-to person amongst your friends and colleagues. Now, on the flip side, lots of good ideas mean lots to get done. And you definitely want to…if only you weren’t feeling so overwhelmed by it all. Sure, you’re busy, bouncing from one pursuit to another, but somehow you don’t end up doing what needs to get done now. Many times, not getting anything done at all.
What’s stopping you: Not knowing how or where to get started. So many great ideas and so little time to deal with them!
What you can do to change it: Organization can be key with you. Having so many ideas and not enough time to do them can be a challenge for anyone, let alone a procrastinator.
2. Paralyzed Procrastinator
There are quite a few ways to become this one. You might be trying to avoid a difficult task, over-criticizing your work, or even constantly redoing what you’ve done. You could even be setting expectations for yourself that are way too high. No matter what it is; it always lands you in the same place…waiting for just the right time to get it done. Only thing is you always wait too long and then there’s no time at all.
What’s stopping you: Reluctance to be judged — by others, yourself, or both.
What you can do to change it: Set goals for yourself that are realistic and reachable. Not saying that you can’t reach any goal that’s set, but start off by setting small ones and move along gradually. You will have a much bigger sense of accomplishment and will start to build self-confidence in yourself and whatever you are trying to achieve.
Turn the task from invisible to unavoidable. Make it an obstacle that must be dealt with before you can move on to more welcome activities.
3. Pile-Up Procrastinator
You my dear are actually the most productive person you know! You may not even know that you are a procrastinator. When you lift up your pile of accomplishments, you’ll find a list of the kind of boring, repetitive things that aren’t getting done. It could be paperwork, taking out the trash, answering emails…all stuff that’s not really that high on your to-do list. So, of course you put it off and tend to the things you think are more important.
What’s stopping you: Boredom. You are a person that loves making good use of your time, so doing things that you feel aren’t is not on your list and often get scooted to the side.
What you can do to change it: You are super busy doing everything under the sun (except that one thing you are avoiding). Your thinking is that if you are already busy and on the go, nobody can say you don’t have a good excuse right? Try to schedule the not-so-interesting things on your list in between all the things you like to do. This way you are squeezing in those little things and still getting to do all the other fun, more interesting things as well.
Other things you can do to help are: Change your environment. Different environments have different impact on how you work. Sometimes changes in our surroundings can help keep you motivated and focused on what you have to do.
Hang out with people who inspire you.
Imagine if you spent 10 minutes talking to Oprah. How inspired would you feel afterwards? I’m sure you’d be a lot more inspired than if you spent 10 minutes doing nothing. Identify the people, friends and colleagues that you look up to and inspire you the most and hang out with them. I guarantee they will almost immediately rub off on you.
Tell others about your goals.
Tell the people you trust and respect about your plans (not everyone. Not all of the people you know will be happy for you). If they truly love and care about you they will most likely ask you how your projects are coming along. It’s a great way to stay accountable of what you said you were going to do.
In the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Look, I have NEVER heard about a successful procrastinator. You have to dig your feet in and decide that once and for all you are going to push through and achieve the goals that you have set.
Get to it!