Decisions, Decisions: Beating Procrastination
Why do some days feel like you’re fighting a losing battle? The to-do list is growing wildly out of control and, quite frankly, a lot of the stuff on there needs to happen, like, yesterday. Yet despite the spiralling anxiety, procrastination (AKA: The Big Distracter. AKA: my number one enemy in the whole entire universe) has me frozen in my tracks. Paralysed. Unable to make decisions. And focusing entirely on the wrong stuff – whether it’s alphabetising the spice cupboard or hula hooping in the garden (seriously though, hula hooping is my new favourite thing).
Procrastination is the villain in my own superhero story. A Time Thief. The Destroyer of Productivity. My kryptonite, if you will.
Let me tell you, when I’m on a roll at work, I. Am. On. FIRE! I know when I put my mind to something, I can smash it out of the park. So where the heck are my superpowers when I need them the most? Why is everyone else so productive? And what mystical powers do they possess that kick procrastination to the curb?
If you often find yourself stuck in a loop of indecision, unable to move closer to your goals then, reader, I feel you. Procrastination can be a real hurdle. Leaving us feeling helpless, overwhelmed and even a little ashamed.
The word “procrastination” comes from the Latin verb procrastinare — “to put off until tomorrow.” But it’s actually about more than just delaying something. The word is also derived from the ancient Greek word “akrasia”, which means “doing something against our better judgement.”
And that’s the real kicker. When we procrastinate, we’re not only acutely aware that we’re avoiding a task, but we also know that doing so is probably a bad idea. But hey, we do it anyway.
This isn’t about laziness. Often we procrastinate because we overestimate how much we can achieve, we’re striving for perfection, we feel overwhelmed by all the tasks, or we simply struggle to focus.
7 Ways to Beat Procrastination
The good news is that there are some great strategies you can arm yourself with to break free from this cycle and kickstart those superpowers that you already possess.
1. Get Clear On What Matters Most
One of the main reasons we get caught up in decision paralysis is because we’re not sure what we truly want. Take the time to reflect on your goals and identify what really matters to you. Write them down and break them into small, achievable steps. Having a clear direction will guide your decision-making process and provide you with a sense of purpose.
2. Seek Out Information (But Set Limits)
Gaining knowledge is crucial for making informed choices, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of endless research. Define a reasonable limit for gathering information. Seek advice from reliable sources and consult people you trust, but remember that at some point, you need to trust yourself and take the plunge.
3. Embrace the Beauty of Imperfection
Did you know that procrastination is often a symptom of perfectionism? That’s because perfectionists fear being unable to complete a task perfectly, so they put it off. And off. And off (…guilty!)
Remind yourself that waiting for the perfect choice can lead to missed opportunities. Embrace the idea of making ‘good enough’ decisions and keep in mind that mistakes are a natural part of learning. Taking imperfect action is better than endlessly pondering the “what ifs.” Better done than perfect!
4. Visualise Success and Push Through Fear
Fear often fuels decision paralysis. Combat it by visualising the positive outcomes that can arise from making decisions and taking action. Envision the satisfaction and fulfilment you’ll experience once you’ve made progress. Allow this visualisation to overshadow your fear of failure and propel you forward.
5. Give Yourself Deadlines and Stick to Them
Procrastination thrives in the absence of deadlines. Set realistic timeframes for your tasks and hold yourself accountable. By creating a sense of urgency, you’ll be more motivated to make decisions. Break down your goals into smaller, manageable chunks with specific deadlines to prevent overwhelm and maintain momentum.
6. Break Tasks into Bite-sized Pieces
Large tasks can feel overwhelming, leading to decision paralysis. Break them down into smaller, more manageable steps. Focus on one step at a time and celebrate each mini-milestone along the way. By taking things incrementally, you’ll reduce overwhelm and gain a sense of accomplishment with each completed task.
7. Practice Self-Compassion and Embrace Growth
Be gentle with yourself throughout the decision-making process. Avoid harsh self-criticism and negative self-talk that only perpetuates procrastination. Treat yourself with kindness and patience, recognising that decision-making is a skill that improves over time. Celebrate progress, no matter how small, and view setbacks as opportunities for personal growth.
Remember: Batman Is a billionaire genius with a kick-ass car and a lycra-clad sidekick, and he still can’t keep the Joker behind bars. Fighting the war against procrastination is no less an endless struggle than defeating the Clown Prince of Crime. So, wear that cape. Wield those tools. Take small steps. You’ve got this.
Curious to find out more? We cover lots more in our popular Time Management Training Course.