Overcoming Procrastination

Eight Steps to Achieving Your Life Goals

Overcoming Procrastination

Getting over Over procrastination is easier than you might think. It just takes a little self-investigative work. We need to look into the psychology of procrastination and what benefits that behavior is giving us before we can tackle overcoming procrastination.

So, why do we procrastinate? Here are just some of the reasons:

  • Just don't want to do it, lack of motivation
  • Scared of the unknown
  • Scared of change
  • Lack of time or inability to prioritize
  • Overwhelmed and inability to prioritize
  • Unorganized
  • Too busy – inability to prioritize
  • Afraid we're going to fail
  • Perfectionism – can't do it perfectly, so end up doing nothing

I see this all the time and occasionally experience it myself too.

My husband has been procrastinating about draining the pool to fix something in it. I constantly hear him telling the kids, the neighbor, his parents, his friends… "Oh, I gotta drain the pool, Oh; I gotta get a permit from the city to do that." I know he's expecting me to do all this and quite frankly… it's his project to take care of.

But, let's look into why he is procrastinating. I know he doesn't want to do it because it's no fun going to the City to get a permit, then going to the pool store to rent a pump, then hooking it up, and so on. For him to overcome procrastination, he'll need to take responsibility and the necessary steps to complete the job.

So, how do we work on overcoming procrastination since we all have things we don't want to do, but have to do?

Here are the basics to overcoming procrastination:

First - think about why you're procrastinating. Use the list of excuses above and add some of your own. You don't need to write this out, just think about why you're procrastinating.

Second - what I've found over the years is that most of the time, the act of procrastinating makes things much worse than they really are. For instance, just thinking and worrying about what needs to be done takes a lot more energy than just doing it. Thinking and worrying about it makes it much more overwhelming.

Third - make a short list of things you need to do. Set some goals, get positive, and believe that you can get some stuff done.

Fourth - delegate stuff. My favorite! One of my weaknesses is updating baby books. Not a big thing to get done, but it is time consuming. I make it a goal to not go more than a quarter of the year without updating them. In between I jot down things the kids say or do on pieces of paper or a notepad that I keep in a central place in my kitchen. I can then grab these and update the baby books as needed.

Okay, so what does updating baby books have to do with delegating? Well, for my 13- year-old, I was really busy during her baby years… going to school, working, and running a business all while being a single mom. So, her baby book was pretty non-existent. I had updating her baby book for the past 10 years on my "things to do list". Obviously this was overwhelming to me. I felt like I failed her, and I just didn't have the time to do it, so I delegated it to her. I gave her all the scrap booking material along with all her baby and school pictures in chronological order and turned her loose. She made a baby book that was more creative than I could have ever done. So, delegate what you can.

Fifth - now after you've delegated what you can, plan and prioritize your days and the week ahead of time. Look at your calendar and see what has to get done and plan your goals around that.

Say you set a goal to lose five pounds and you work 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and beyond outside the home. You're going to have to plan your meals and workouts so they're in line with your goals and around your work schedule and everything else in life.

Sixth - line up your "things to do" with your goals. Pack your meals ahead of time cooking and preparing as much as you can all on one day like Saturday or Sunday. Plan and write down your workouts in your calendar.

Seventh - If it's all too overwhelming, break it down into small manageable pieces or tasks. Your workouts can be broken down into ten minute workouts throughout the day. Writing down your tasks will help cement your goal in your mind too. The act of writing also calms you down by giving you a sense of control.

Eighth - the next and last step is to be realistic in what you're going to achieve. This is also true in planning your time. Allow yourself enough time to complete something. Stay positive, focused, and believe you can achieve your goals.

Once you've mastered overcoming procrastination on a smaller level, take it up a notch and think about your whole life. Go back to the eight steps and on step three where you set some goals, think about the life you want to live and where you want to be next year with your life. Then set some goals based on this. Think about your home life, your health, your spiritual life, your work life… everything and set some goals for the areas of your life you want to see some change in.

Some parting thoughts, if you're the indecisive type, don't make decisions alone – talk it through with someone or just take some time to yourself to think it through.

We all procrastinate and for different reasons that are personal to us. The keys to overcoming procrastination are easy, basic, and common sense self investigative work. The answers to overcoming procrastination are within and once you overcome it, you'll feel wonderful by finally getting stuff done and achieving your goals. So, be sure to work through the eight steps mentioned above and don't overdo it, keep it all in manageable steps.

To re-cap… here's the basic steps to overcoming procrastination:

  1. Investigate and find out why you're procrastinating.
  2. Remember, it takes more energy to procrastinate than to "just do it".
  3. Write out a short "to do" list and set some small achievable goals and get positive.
  4. Delegate.
  5. Plan and prioritize your days and the week ahead.
  6. Make sure your actions or "things to do" are in line with your goals.
  7. Break it down into small manageable pieces.
  8. Be realistic, allow yourself enough time to get stuff done, and stay focused and positive.

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