“Procrastination is opportunity’s natural assassin.” –Victor Kiam
We don’t plan to procrastinate. We want to fulfill our obligations and move forward. But too often we don’t.
Let’s face it. Procrastination is a weird kind of selfishness, because it robs others and us of benefits and joy.
Fear is often the root of procrastination. What are we so afraid of?
- Fear the work isn’t the right thing to do
- Fear the work will be overwhelming
- Fear we don’t know how to do the work right
- Fear we’ll abandon the work
If these fears muck up our minds, we need to do something about what we allow in our thoughts.
4 Ways to Free Yourself from Procrastination
1. Prevention. Take a half hour and list:
- what you like to do,
- what you’re good at,
- what you believe in,
- what challenges you in a good way, and
- what you’re called to do.
For help, see 4 Choices That Improve Your Perseverance. Let’s call this list your Character Manifesto. Be honest.
Remember, work ends up on our plates because we say yes to someone’s request or our eyes light up at some work that looks interesting, noble, or lucrative. So, stop before committing to anything and ask yourself: Does my Character Manifesto support this job? If it doesn’t, it’s likely not the right thing to do. So, say no thank you, or think and pray about it before committing.
You’re less likely to procrastinate on work associated with items on your Character Manifesto.
2. Planning. Once you’ve committed to a wise number of right projects, you can prevent them from looming. Even if you dislike planning, you can jot down what projects are due in the next few months. And under each project, what tasks need to be accomplished. Then decide what tasks you need to get done next week.
I can’t stress this enough: assign a sufficient block of time for each task. You already know your most likely interruptions, so wisely plan that block of time around them. Then forget about all tasks except the one assigned for the current block of time.
You know all tasks have been assigned a block of your time, so you can relax and actually look forward to and enjoy your next task.
3. Permission. Now that you’ve assigned sufficient time on your schedule for the right jobs, you need to address niggling thoughts you may fail at doing them right.
Train your thinking. Give yourself permission to ask for help when needed. That’s so smart. To view the task as an adventure. That’s so fun. To realize failure can be a great learning experience for the next attempt. That’s so freeing.
Who better to do the task than you: it fits your Character Manifesto, you’ll get needed help, and you’ll look forward to hindsight if your adventure turns out different than planned.
4. Accountability. You’ve scheduled the right jobs and have given yourself permission to enjoy the work and accept the outcomes. Yet, you fear disappointing people if you get bogged down in other things and fail to finish projects.
Turn your fear into constructive action. Create or join an accountability group that has no investments in your projects.
Your accountability partners have little concern about the success of your projects. They expect you to complete what you determined were the right things to do. Your weekly reports to your group should show them you planned well and worked as planned.
Members can help you look at your pressures and problems more objectively and make suggestions to get you back on track. Plus, they’ll cheer you on.
Having accountability partners helps you to plan well and do what you planned to do.
What works for you to give procrastination the boot?
Zoe, you write the most interesting posts! This is SO helpful to me because I fear all the things you listed at the top of the blog. Thanks for giving me a kick in the rear AND a way to tackle the projects.
Accountability is like making a commitment. I will do what I commit to do. I can see I need to get an accountability partner. Thanks Zoe.
Stacy, nice to have you back. The hardest for me is number 3, permission. I need to give myself permission to do my best and stop going back to things, fearing they’re not perfect. The things I fear I’ll do more of that on are the ones I put aside.
Marcia, I happened on my accountability group through the ACFW loop.
Thanks for this post, Zoe—did you write it just for me?! 😉
I have an accountability partner for my writing, and having her is a tremendous blessing.
Not only do we hold each other accountable, but we pray for each other too.
I’m glad I’ve discovered your blog! Blessings, Patti Jo 🙂
Patti Jo, I think I wrote this blog for myself as much as for anyone else. I belong to a prayerful accountability group, and like you, I find it a great blessing. Thank you for sharing.