How to Stop Procrastinating and Start Doing in 5 Steps
By Mirela Sula
Procrastination is a universal phenomenon that we all experience from time to time. When we have important tasks on our to-do list and even mundane domestic duties to complete, it’s often easy to leave it untouched for hours, or days until the very last minute. Whether it’s a combination of poor time management, lack of self-control or just an outright lack of motivation, we’ve all been there. We’ve all said to ourselves I’ll do it later or I’m trying with no real attainable results.
Whilst this is a normal part of our daily lives that feels inevitable, procrastination is a challenging mental hurdle that can begin to feel overwhelming and difficult to jump over; which might increase feelings of shame or guilt. However, these negative emotions can also feed into procrastination, turning it into a vicious cycle of self-defeat and neglecting your goals.
So, how can you stop procrastinating and start ticking off all those tasks lingering on your to-do list? CEO and founder of Global Woman, Mirela Sula has the answers for you. With years of experience in psychology, Mirela Sula understands that “people find it difficult to start making things happen because they position themselves in the future”. This can disrupt our motivation to get these things done as we’re only focusing on the reward that will arrive in the future; which leads us to our first step in curbing those procrastinating impulses before they get the best of us.
- Start Rewarding Yourself.
You read that right! Don’t wait to reward yourself in the future, start now. Rewarding yourself doesn’t need to feel unearned if you start by creating short term and long term goals to build your system. Little celebrations can go a long way as you start moving into the future, so take time to congratulate yourself for every little step of your journey.
Of course, satisfaction amounts to a larger than life feeling when that one particularly hard project is completed, but you must “stop punishing and penalizing yourself” along the way. While self-criticism is needed sometimes in order to look at things from a new perspective, it can also blind us with self-sabotaging views, hindering our ability to push ourselves and achieve our goals. So, give yourself space to feel proud of your accomplishments, especially the smaller ones, and reward yourself!
- Make Your Tasks Achievable.
Sometimes with our passions, we aim as high as we possibly can without thinking about the reality of how we can achieve them. Though having a vision of creating something worthwhile is fulfilling, we often skip right to the end results without taking a step back to look at the whole picture and how we can actually make it happen. This is why it’s important to make your tasks achievable.
How do you do that? Start by setting out “small goals, little tasks, separating and dividing them into little pieces” that are easier to maintain and complete. Mirela Sula gives an example of when she was a practising psychologist working with people who had addiction problems to alcohol or gambling. They would set out goals and quickly start procrastinating leading them to a series of relapses. She notes that you can’t stop a habit that was created years ago overnight, but you need to “allow yourself that process of change, so your subconscious mind is getting ready and preparing to welcome your future self”. This starts with small goals and tasks that are attainable and realistic in order to achieve your desired result.
- Stay Consistent.
It might be easier to start writing down smaller achievable tasks when fighting procrastination, but staying visibly consistent with projects can be tiring and overwhelming. For Sula, this is something she sees when working with clients around the world as they set up goals for their businesses. Some might start a campaign to maximise their visibility and reach then disappear after a week or two.
Sure, there are factors that can prove to be challenging in the process – life is full of surprises after all – but you need to hold yourself accountable for your goals. These goals are not going to be attainable if you’re not keeping yourself accountable for your actions. Productivity and consistency are intertwined when it comes to achieving goals, so create a routine and stick to it. Fewer excuses, more action!
Of course, “we always want quality” but not everything needs to be perfect. As Sula puts it, “it’s better to do it and it is good enough than not to do it at all because it’s not perfect”.
- Stay Committed.
Much like consistency, commitment is one of Mirela Sula’s favourite words because it requires self-discipline; one of the most important qualities we need to crush procrastination.
Commitment when setting out goals or pursuing a passion begins with giving yourself a deadline, even for small tasks. For example, if you’re thinking of writing a book, Mirela Sula says “put a deadline on it”. Visualize when you want to have written the book by and create a structure around the deadline, otherwise, it won’t happen. Effective time management isn’t the only way to keep yourself committed to your tasks. You can use the S.M.A.R.T.E.R method of goal setting to create action plans that you can uphold by staying consistent to holding yourself accountable to your commitments.
- Public Announcements.
Now, this can be daunting and push you outside your comfort zone, but for Sula, this is something that pushes her out of all the fear of procrastination. Once you’re committed to something, and marked it with a deadline, “take it out there and make a public announcement”. Once you’ve made your intentions a public commitment, whether that be to friends or employees, it’s easier for others to hold you accountable.
Putting yourself under public pressure and scrutiny can be demoralizing and disheartening. However, it can also spark a light of fire in you for inspiration. “I know it’s going to be tough and difficult for you if you haven’t done it before, but just try” Mirela Sula encourages us.
Public announcements of your goals can make way for constructive feedback and advice free of charge from people you trust, people who want to see you succeed. It pushes you to be motivated with adrenaline and excitement over your goals. Ultimately, it makes you feel ready to start doing and forget about procrastination.
Do you want to learn more about beating procrastination and setting goals? Mirela Sula will be launching my 90-day program for the Global Business School very soon! Are you interested? Book a FREE discovery session with her here.