Hey, it’s time to minimize procrastination triggers! This is the second part of our series on procrastination, and today we’ll talk about some highly effective techniques that will help you beat procrastination. The best bit is that the strategies in this article (and video) will help you learn more about yourself. This will improve many areas of your life. So, if you want to beat procrastination and improve your life, read on. But: If you missed the first article of this series, make sure to catch up on it here first. It covers the basics of what procrastination is and why we procrastinate.
So, let’s not waste any more time but let’s get started and beat procrastination.
If you read the previous article, you know that procrastination is a habit. You also found out that habits can be broken and that habits consist of a trigger, a pattern and a reward.
To beat procrastination, you can’t focus on just one of these three parts. That’s because you can only make a permanent change in your mindset and behaviour if you work on both the cause and the symptoms of a problem.
Triggers are what causes procrastination, patterns are the symptoms, and rewards fall a bit into both categories.
So, today, let’s find out how you can reduce procrastination by minimizing your triggers before we jump into the patterns.
Identify Your Procrastination Triggers
Mel Robbins is a motivational coach who often has really great advice. She says that you should ignore the triggers and only focus on breaking the habit pattern as you will never get rid of the triggers that cause stress. It is indeed illusionary to believe that you can create a life completely free of stress. That is simply not possible the way society works. But does this mean that you shouldn’t try to eliminate those things from your life that cause you permanent stress and pain? Absolutely not. These things don’t only cause you to procrastinate, but they take a toll on the quality of your life. Keeping these things in your life is not an acceptable option.
So really make an effort to identify the things that stress you the most.
Let’s use a classic example. You absolutely hate your job, it doesn’t bring you any joy at all, and you feel permanently stressed because it occupies your mind day and night. This condition isn’t one you should ignore or tolerate, but you should absolutely try to change it. You aren’t bound to your boss or your company for the rest of your life, but you are free to change your job, even your whole career.
Or, another example. You actually like your job, but the workload isn’t manageable, and I don’t mean just at peak times, but always. This is another situation that causes lots of stress, drains your energy and reduces the quality of your life. And: You should absolutely do something to change that.
Talk to your boss and tell them that they need to hire someone to assist you. And don’t think of it as being weak. It’s actually showing strength. Nothing will change if you don’t tell your boss that the workload is too much to finish during regular working hours. You’ll just keep accepting more and more work that you then complete during extra hours. That’s a situation you really don’t want to keep going on.
So, try to identify the things in your life that stress you the most and try to find solutions to eliminate those stressors. I admit it might not always be possible, but get rid of as many as you can. It might even be something as simple as asking other parents to take turns in picking your kids up from school instead of having to drive there yourself every day.
Let Go of Perfectionism to Stop Procrastinating
Another aspect of minimizing the stress that causes procrastination is to let go of perfectionism. Sure, this is easier said than done, but a task seems much more threatening if you feel like it has to be perfect down to the very last detail. This doesn’t mean that you should be sloppy in carrying out your task, not at all. It means, however, that you should be more realistic about how much effort is reasonable and not set your bar too high.
When you are preparing a presentation for a client, keep the big picture in mind. What do you really need to include? How much visual design do you really need to make it look pretty? Ask yourself if you are using your time wisely and whether the extra hours you need to elevate something from “very good” to “perfect” are really worth it.
The same applies to personal goals. For example, if you are trying to lose weight, set reasonable goals. Don’t expect to lose 5 pounds in one week but maybe just 1. And don’t beat yourself up if you only lose half a pound during this week. It is tempting to think you’ll never reach your ideal weight at that speed and that it’s easier to just give up and eat a chocolate bar. But instead, celebrate that you lost weight at all and that you are moving in the right direction. It’s a success, after all.
Honestly Evaluate Your Strengths and Weaknesses to Stop Procrastinating
Sometimes low self-esteem can also be the cause for procrastination. This is especially true if you don’t feel competent about a task you need to carry out. An effective hack to get over this is to make a list of all your strengths and weaknesses. But: Depending on your personality type, you might have a tendency to underestimate yourself. If you suffer from impostor syndrome, you might even have a hard time finding any strengths at all. So, get another person who knows you well to do it together with you. Maybe even ask different people – a friend and a co-worker, for example. They experience you in different situations and environments, and you’ll get a much clearer picture from those different angles.
Strengths and weaknesses can be quite varied. You can have many general strengths, such as patience, perseverance or the ability to think critically. But they can also be very distinct and closely tied to your profession. Maybe you are a pro at coding in PHP, or you are an accounting wizard. Once you have your list, focus on your strengths. How do they help you with your tasks at hand? There is a high chance you’ll have a couple of traits that give you an advantage in completing your task.
Okay, but what about your weaknesses? Well, if you just ignore them and pretend they don’t exist, it will backfire on you. Let’s say after your honest self-evaluation, you have come to the conclusion that you are a genius at copywriting, but your design skills are really not the best. So, what to do if your boss asks you to make a flyer for a company event?
Well, you could do the parts you know you are good at, in this case, writing the copy and delegate the rest. Of course, this only works if there is someone in your team who is good at designing. Or, even better, if your boss has authorized you to outsource the design to a creative agency. That is usually the best choice.
But if you can’t delegate, you might be tempted to accept the whole challenge yourself. The problem here is that you already know that you aren’t good at designing, which will make you dread starting the task. Your stress levels rise, and procrastination becomes very likely.
So, in this scenario, be open and honest with your boss. Tell them that you are more than happy to do the copywriting for the flyer. But also tell them that you can’t do the design and that they need to find somebody else to do it.
In most such cases, your boss will appreciate your honesty. Not only does it save you a lot of stress, but it also saves the company time and resources. Spending hours on a task you aren’t qualified to do and ending up with an undesirable result is something your boss doesn’t want either. Open communication is essential in such situations.
And if your boss tells you to do it anyway because there is no other option? Well, then you at least warned them before. But seriously, you can use it as an opportunity to learn more about the task you aren’t good at and improve your skillset. You can also use this experience to learn more about yourself, to learn more about how your psyche reacts to things you don’t feel competent about. And, of course, you can apply some of the methods from our next video and article in this series, in which we discuss how to break the pattern of procrastination.
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