Anxiety, Comfort Zone, Empowerment, Hot Tips, Procrastination, Wellness

5 Hacks to Escape Procrastination

Procrastination has the power to keep you from enjoying and succeeding in your life and career.

It robs you of positive self-esteem. Left unchecked, it can derail your intentions and aspirations.

Here are 5 easy hacks to overcome excessive procrastination in your life that you can start using today.

1. It’s OK to be OK.

Many folks who endulge in procrastination (myself included) get hung up on “I can’t do it unless I can do it perfectly.” Liken this to taking a test in school – the student may think to herself, “I can’t get an A on this test, so I refuse to do it.” This choice results in an F on the test. On the other hand, she might more rationally think to herself, “I know I’m not going to do well on this test but I’ll give it my best shot.” This decision usually results in being average. Would you rather have a C or an F on that test? Sometimes we just need to give ourselves permission to give a C performance.

Megan Bruneau, writing for Forbes Magazine says, “Because we have unrealistically, inflexibly high expectations for ourselves, we feel overwhelmed and paralyzed. We don’t want to make a mistake or screw up. One of the easiest ways to prevent perfectionism-related procrastination is to aim for “good enough”–75% or 80%. You know that saying “Perfect is the enemy of good?” Truth: If every time I sat down to write an article, I tried to write THE BEST article I’ve ever written, I’d never produce a thing. Aiming for “good enough” empowers me to actually press the Publish button. “ 

“Done is better than perfect.” — Sheryl Sandberg

2. Schedule deadline reminders.

If you know something is due on Friday, plug several reminders during the week into your smart phone or planner. This will remind you to get started, or to schedule time to work on it.

If necessary, schedule several reminders for each day leading up to the deadline. Tell yourself in advance you’re only allowed to ignore one of those reminders.  Then hold yourself accountable to act on the rest. You may surprise yourself and actually finish ahead of schedule.

Wouldn’t finishing early feel great?

3. Get some fresh air.

Often the culprits at the heart of procrastination are that we’re mentally fatigued, bored or unmotivated to continue working — or even to start a difficult task. Research shows us that taking a walk outdoors, looking at plants and trees, breathing deeply, listening to birds, or even children playing in the playground has the power to help us regain alertness and mental clarity. It enables us to regain focus when we get back to our office. According to a University of Michigan study, psychology researchers “found memory performance and attention spans improved by 20 percent after people spent an hour interacting with nature.” states that “Science has shown that going out into the wild and enjoying nature can double or even triple your brain activity and get your creative juices flowing. Set work aside when you feel overwhelmed with a task and get something like a twenty minute walk or so outdoors. It will do you a lot of good, boost your fitness levels, and strengthen your willpower to get stalled projects moving again.”

4. The Old-Fashioned Pros and Cons List.

You already know how to do this.

What are the pros to my procrastinating this activity? I can watch more TV. I can surf Facebook longer.

What are the cons? I will feel more anxiety. I may sleep poorly tonight  worrying about it.

What are the pros to getting it done? I will feel like a burden has been lifted from my shoulders. I will feel better about myself.

Cons of getting this done? That’s funny – I can’t think of any cons for getting it done.

5. Reward your successes.

Procrastinators often don’t allow themselves rewards. This ties into the perfectionism trap – “If I didn’t do something perfectly, why should I deserve a reward?”

Throw that idea out the window! Just getting through a challenging activity, no matter how small, is a big win. Treat it as such – whether writing it in a journal, or on your whiteboard or on a steno pad, make a list of all your accomplishments during the week. Sort of a post-to-do list. Give yourself a pat on the back, or a bubble bath or treat yourself to whatever activity makes you really happy. Indulge yourself when you accomplish something you really didn’t want to do.

Dale Carnegie said,

“Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”

Be kind to yourself – give yourself some credit!

By approaching tough and/or dreaded tasks a little differently, you can change negative behaviors into good habits that will serve you in positive ways and put you on the path to success in all that you do.

Thank you for reading and I would love to hear any tips and tricks you may have to share for overcoming the urge to procrastinate.

One more alternative to getting past unwanted but necessary tasks is to delegate them to a competent Virtual Assistant. Find out more about the services and packages I can assist you with here.



How I am plowing through Startup Anxiety

This little blog post is going out into the universe today; probably not to be read by anyone but me for a while, but the first post can’t be written until fingers actually hit the keyboard, so ready or not, here I come.  Why might the first post I write be about anxiety? Well, let’s face it – I quit a decent, but unfulfilling job 2 weeks ago and I am technically unemployed. Unemployment has a tendency to make one anxious. It wasn’t an impulsive decision, but one I’ve rolled around in my brain for years… and frankly many months ago I couldn’t see myself doing what I was doing in the long term. So I planned for the change. I got up early and went to bed late in and around work; preparing and planning. I tried to squirrel away cash when I could and am super grateful for a supportive husband who believes in this aspiration of mine to be my own boss. Before I knew it, my last day arrived. And now my safety net is has a big hole in it, and I am fairly nervous about this!
nail biting

That being said, I have been researching strategies for calming myself off the ledge that seem to be working – and lots of intrepid souls have paved the way before me, so there is lots of good information out there to help quell those moments of overwhelm. First and foremost, I need to remind myself that worst case scenarios HAVEN’T HAPPENED YET. That’s the beauty of starting your startup! Dan Zadra said, “Worry is a misuse of imagination.” It is kind of freeing to still be blissfully unaware of difficulties that will probably eventually crop up, but haven’t yet. My imagination can be put to better use with the other tasks at hand.

“Worry is a misuse of imagination.” – Dan Zedra

Something else that has been helpful is to give myself permission to be “Good Enough”. I don’t know if it’s because I’m an oldest child, or motivated by praise, but I am pretty good at raking myself over the coals when I don’t do everything perfectly.  Lisa Evans, writer for Entrepreneur Magazine, says “While there’s nothing wrong with aiming high, perfectionism causes you to look at the world in all-or-nothing, black-or-white terms. This kind of thinking results in exacerbated stress levels and can be debilitating in our working lives. Imagine if you expect your product to be absolutely perfect. It may never make it to market.”

Another strategy that has been positive for me is just deciding to do something, even if it doesn’t feel perfect yet. Blogger Erik Barker writes about this. He says that people who are anxious have a need to control everything in order to reduce stress, “So when you make a decision, your brain feels you have control. And, as I’ve talked about before, a feeling of control reduces stress. But here’s what’s really fascinating: Deciding also boosts pleasure.” Deciding something early on in my business to have in place is way better for me than stressing out about having it perfect before I can move forward to something else. Get it in place and if I want to improve or upgrade, there’s plenty of time for that later.

Lastly, writing down “the thing” that has been freaking me out and examining it closely instead of avoiding it has been super helpful. It almost requires a split personality – I have to look at “the thing” and step out of myself and think about how I would tell one of my kids to handle it. All of the sudden I get all logical on myself and can see things more clearly as they are and not how I imagine them to be.

So to recap –
1. Worst case scenarios haven’t happened yet.
2. It’s ok to be good enough. Don’t wait for perfection in order to start where you are.
3. Make decisions. Circumstances don’t need to be perfect, just decide something, then do it.
4. That thing that is freaking you out? Name it. Look at it. Don’t run away from it. How would you tell a loved one to handle that thing? Tell it to yourself the same way.

Starting a business has been nerve-wracking and exhilarating at the same time, but I keep remembering my why, I take lots of deep breathing breaks; I pick something to work on and don’t allow myself to be paralyzed. Lots of things are new to me, but I’ve done hard things before. This is just a new hard thing with lots of blessings and benefits that being someone else’s employee can’t provide.

If you are reading this today, I would love to hear your strategies or tips for overcoming startup anxiety. Thanks for reading my first blog post!