How To Stop Procrastinating In 3 Steps

The title of this post is a tad misleading because I’m not sure it’s possibly to eradicate procrastination from your life completely without the use of a time machine.

The reality is we all procrastinate from time to time it’s just how we’re wired up.

On the other hand, whereas you procrastinating on emptying the dishwasher may be a tad irritating to your partner, procrastinating on writing a sales proposal or important report may be the difference between having a job and not.

Similarly, not going to the doctors when you find a lump that shouldn’t be there can have much more serious consequences.

I’ve heard numerous incredibly sad stories of people whose procrastination in such circumstances cost them the ultimate price, their life.

If you were ever to do out for a meal with me you’d probably want to punch me when it came to choosing what to order. I am notoriously poor at making my mind up in such situations and will always order last and often under duress from my wife.

However, I seldom procrastinate when it comes to my business (in fact the opposite can be true and I’m sometimes be a bit too spontaneous), and if I find anything medically wrong with me I’m sat outside the doctors office waiting for the doors to open the following day.

You would think that most people would have a greater tendency to procrastinate on trivial unimportant things and get on with the important stuff in their life, because…er….it’s more important, but it doesn’t work like that.

I would guess that at least half of the clients I work with have moderate to severe procrastination issues and chronic procrastination is a major and often debilitating issue for millions of people.

It’s also an issue that people who don’t procrastinate fail to understand and have little sympathy with.

Advice like ‘make a to-do list starting with the biggest and most important item at the top’, ‘download an app’, or read ‘David Allen’s – Getting Things Done’ (al) is usually well meant, but seldom of much value to professional procrastinators.

And the reason it’s largely useless is because it’s not a lack of knowledge per se that causes people to procrastinate.

They often know what to do, they’re just not doing it.

So today I am going to give you what I think are the three best steps to allow you to build momentum which in turn will crush procrastination.

1. Focus On Your Core Values

I know I’m almost evangelical about this, but that’s because it’s so frickin’ important.

In fact, I don’t think  there is any one thing more important in the entire self development industry even though so many people still don’t get that.

Let’s suppose you have a number one value of ‘Family’ and as per the earlier example you find an unusual lump.

The best thing you can do at that point is to focus on that value and the fact that you want to spend as many years as possible in good health with your family.

That’s way more likely to create action than dwelling on your anti-values (things you don’t want) and fretting that you may have to go through painful treatment.

In a business setting ‘Integrity’ or ‘Leadership’ may be crucially important to you. So ask yourself when you’re putting off something important if you feel you are operating within your own value frame work.

Note: If you don’t know accurately what your core values are, then you’re in a bit of a hole with the first step.

Amazingly enough though I wrote just the book to help you ;-)

2. Label It

One of the approaches therapists have taken with people who suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in recent years is to ask the patient to label their behavior.

By that I mean, rather than saying, “I need to wash my hand 12 times because of the risk of spreading disease” they are instructed to say, “I need to wash my hands 12 times because I have OCD

That one change alone can create a huge shift in some people because they alter their relationship with their condition.

Therefore, when you are procrastinating, tell yourself you’re procrastinating!

Most people will tell themselves they will feel more like doing whatever task it is the following day, week, month.

They won’t!

This is a very common cognitive bias. By and large as Human Beings we’re horrible at understanding how we’ll feel about doing something in the future.

Drop the “I’ll feel more like it tomorrow” mantra and adopt the “I’m procrastinating on this issue because I don’t want to do it” mantra.

The latter is way more likely to get you to act because you have removed your “get out of jail free” card of fooling yourself.

3. Anchor It

An anchor if you don’t already know, is a conditioned response. Think of Pavlov’s dog salivating at the ringing of the bell even when Pavlov had removed the meat and you get the idea.

There is an expression in neuroscience that says “Neurons that fire together, wire together

Effectively that means if you do two things together enough times or with enough intensity, just doing one of this things will automatically trigger the other.

You have dozens of anchors that have occurred naturally through your life.

Maybe a specific song evokes certain emotions each time you hear it because of either a really pleasant or really traumatic event that was happening to you at the time you first heard it.

Or maybe you feel ill at the mere smell of a certain type of alcoholic drink because you once got really hammered on it.

My wife is always up on weekdays before me and she immediately puts the coffee.

The smell of the coffee when I first notice it is now and anchor for me to get my arse out of bed and do some work!

Using this information we can create anchors to use at will. I’m not going to explain that today because you can check out this post if you want to know how.

Wouldn’t it be cool to have an anchor for motivation though, so that when you are being tempted by the procrastination demon you can fire your motivation anchor?

Well you can, so go and learn how and use it.

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