How to stop procrastinating in 3 easy steps

An easy, three-steps method to tackle procrastination on a specific project.

I realized that I was procrastinating big time about writing a blog post when I started to detail-clean our budgies’ water container with dozens of cotton swabs.

Your trick maybe organizing your closet or your inbox that was messy for years but now cannot wait another day.

Or maybe re-watching all the episodes of your favorite show …

Or keeping yourself so busy with urgent stuff that you literally don’t have a minute to spare.

But procrastination probably has some bad effects on you…

  • Tons of stress
  • Missed deadlines
  • Damaged professional reputation
  • Lost opportunities
  • Disappointing your boss and others
  • Feeling bad about yourself

And some projects just need to be done. Now.

In this post I’d like to give you quick 3 steps to help you with that. Get that job done.

Step 1: Find your motives

Find your reasons for procrastination

Think about your project and start writing down your feelings and problems about it. Check what makes you resistant. It can be a lot of different stuff. Some examples to get you started:

  • It would take long time to finish.
  • You are worried about the end results… maybe your work will not be good enough.
  • You want to make it perfect so you want to do some more research.
  • There are tons of options to choose from.
  • You feel overwhelmed by other things in your life.
  • This is new territory for you, it requires a lot of learning.
  • This project is boring.
  • This whole thing is irrelevant to you personally, it was just pushed on you.
  • There are others involved and teamwork is not going smoothly.

Be as specific as possible, okay? Then highlight the top 3 reasons that have prevented you taking action this week.

Find your reasons for acting now

Okay, here comes the other side. I want you to imagine that you have finished your project yesterday and all went well. Hooray! You are done, you can move on, that heavy weight is off your back.

How do you feel? What are the benefits you got because you have finished your project? Write them down.

Some examples could be:

  • Feeling relieved.
  • Feeling less stressed or rushed.
  • Feeling proud because you worked through the challenging parts.
  • Getting appreciation from people close to you.
  • Maybe you saved money or time.
  • You can clean up the mess after the project and enjoy your space again, either real or virtual.
  • You can enjoy the end results of the project.

Now highlight the 3 most important benefits and keep them in mind.

Step 2: Write a contract with yourself

Write a goal for this project

I want you to write a goal that is specific, measurable, realistic, motivating and has a deadline. You can use this goal formula or create your own:

I will [ do thisthat is/has [these features and quality] by [deadline] because I want [these benefits].

Add your action steps

Now go back to step 1 and revise your obstacles. See if any other came to your mind and write those down, too. Number your obstacles.

Now for every single obstacle, write down what you will do about them. Action steps, baby.

For example, if your obstacle was that you have no clue how to do a specific task in your project, figure out how to learn it. Who can help? YouTube, a coworker, a book, your teenager? Your action step is that you set a date when you get access to your helper and do the learning.

  • Obstacle 1: I don’t know how to…
  • Action step: I will google it tomorrow after work and try it a few times. Also, I will ask X the day after to check if I’m doing it right so I won’t be worried about it.

You need to keep writing action steps until you are confident that you dealt with all your obstacles and ready to start working. You can do it!

Side note on certain obstacles

Sometimes our obstacles are actually not in real world, only in our heads. It happens to all of us I think.

  • Doubts if we can do it at all,
  • worries that the results are not going to be good enough,
  • that we cannot find the perfect solution,
  • we only have one option and we hate that so why bother,
  • feeling that it is not worth trying because it will all turn out badly anyway,
  • and even if we finish on time no one will ever appreciate our work.

If it sounds familiar to you, I have good news and bad news.

The bad news is, these obstacles are the hardest to fight. They are our hardwired reactions we learnt ages ago. Perfectionism, self-doubt, negativity… Again, most of us have them to some extent.

The good news is, we can still change them. It is doable.

Sure it’s not going to happen in a week. But if you can get help from a therapist or life coach, you can definitely decrease their affect on your life. So don’t give up! You don’t have to listen to these depressing voices in your head for the rest of your days.

Step 3: Be accountable

The last step is to pair up with someone.

  1. Get hold of a good friend, family member, supportive co-worker or a life coach.
  2. Let him/her know about your goal and action steps.
  3. Come to an agreement that you will keep them posted on your progress.
  4. Be specific! Decide together how often and what way you will report to them, i.e. by email, on every Friday until the project is done.

And this is it. A three steps method to take control of your procrastination.

Give it a try on a project that seems difficult but manageable, and can be finished in a week or two.

Takeaway

Step 1: Find your motives

Look at what is holding you back and what will motivate you to start working.

Step 2: Write a contract with yourself

Write a specific goal with a deadline and add your action steps.

I will [ do thisthat is/has [these features and quality] by [deadline] because I want [these benefits].

Step 3: Be accountable

Find someone who will help you stay on track by expecting you to send progress reports to them.

Download a StopProcrastinatingAndFinishTheProjectWorksheet for this 3 steps method.

Take care,

Livia, life coach in Calgary

 

Why get a coach?

Three benefits you will immediately get when you are coached, even just for a few times:

  • coaching clarifies your situation,
  • it moves you forward,
  • it boosts your confidence.

How coaching works in real life?

Let me give you an example.

About a week ago I totally freaked out. ‘I will never make this business work! How could I? I’m an immigrant stay-at-home mom with nothing but a long-expired university degree from abroad!’

My trigger was a nice chat with a lovely other beginner coach lady, who happen to have

  • tons of work experience in other fields,
  • lots of connections with well-off people and
  • great ol’ self-confidence, heaps of it.

And I have none of these. 🙁

So I called my coach friend and asked for an appointment. We worked for a good hour. By the end, I realized what my block was, I knew what to do next, and most of all, I felt confident that I can absolutely do it.

So I started working again and in a week I finished three important jobs necessary to grow my business. Yay! 🙂

Lesson I learnt: we see the world through our lenses. And sometimes we get stuck not as a result of real blocks… But because of our false views… created by our distorting lenses.

If you can change your perception, you can change your emotion and this can lead to new ideas.

Edward de Bono

So what a coach can do for you?

Coaching helps to clarify your situation

What’s on this picture?

close up photo of pavement

An everyday thing, but hard to tell at first on a close-up photo, right?

Same with our lives. We look at it from so close, we can miss parts of the picture. We can’t see the forest from the trees.

  • What is blocking me?
  • Why am I stuck?
  • What preconceptions, prejudices I have that narrow down my view of the situation?

Coaches can give us a new perspective as they paraphrase, ask great open questions or describe our position with big pic metaphors. Expect to have big ‘AHA!’ moments! A whole new array of possibilities can open up when the fog clears in front of us.

Coaching moves you forward

Have you ever noticed that you are running around in circles, very busy but you are not making any progress? (That’s me and my marketing efforts, hahaha!)

Great coaches can help you to stop, breath, and

  • focus on your goals,
  • decide on your priorities,
  • brainstorm for ideas,
  • choose what is the next step to do right now and
  • stay accountable.

The result: as you go back to work, you will not waste your time and efforts on peripheral things, instead, you make progress where it matters the most. So you get more bang for your buck. 🙂

Coaching gives you confidence

During our coaching session, my coach helped me to realize, that

  • I had a successful small business before so I have business experience I can apply now,
  • I already have coaching skills
  • I do have a network of people, maybe not a very big network but it exists.

So when you work with a coach, they will help you to see:

  • what are your strengths you can use here and now,
  • what experiences you have related to this,
  • what kind of similar problems you solved before.

Coaching can make a difference in a few sessions

There are situations when talking to a coach just a few times can give you instant results, saving time, headaches, and probably some money, too. Take a look at the examples in the chart below:

Your situation The problem Assistance from life coach
You are ready to lose weight, quit a bad habit, or finish a never ending project,   but you tried and gave up before a few times. A coach can help you to use your experiences from the past attempts to finally conquer the beast this time.

Plus every benefit I mention in this post before. 🙂

You have a goal close to your heart but it is several obstacles away, that might need a detailed long-term plan to reach. Your life coach will know the best goal setting methods for your situation.

Also can help to brainstorm new ways to tackle the obstacles.

You need to make a major decision, and it has a deadline

and affects other people. like family members.

A life coach can help you think it out loud, check your priorities, consider pros and cons.

Plus teaches you professional decision making tools most people never even heard of.

 

Takeaway

Working with a coach for even a few sessions can give you these immediate benefits:

  • You will see your situation clearer.
  • You will know what to do next.
  • You will have confidence doing it.

Ready, set, go! 🙂

Livia

PS: What are your goals to work for? Let me know in the comments below!

Five things I learnt about coaching… from a Canada goose family

I was riding my bike by the Bow river the other day, and stopped to watch a gosling with a big dilemma.

It was standing on the big rocks by the swirling water that was fast and high from the melting snow, and heard her Mamma call “Come on! We’re going!”.

Canada geese family swimming on Bow River, in Calgary.
Maybe the same goose family, same river but lot more quiet waters than in the story.

The family was leaving, swimming upstream. And there was this tiny few weeks old gosling, unsure and hesitating: should I jump towards Mommy on the rocks or should I swim after her?

Well, we’re not few weeks old anymore, but we can probably relate to this, eh?  When neither of our choices seem easy and we need some support. And quick!

Okay, here comes what Papa Goose taught me that day on how to be a better coach.

Coaches let clients do the work

Papa Goose didn’t solve the problem for his gosling. Yep. The little one had to swim and walk and jump all the way through.

Same goes with coaching. You, the client, have to sweat and think and struggle. (And dust yourself off and keep going after a bad move, with bleeding knees. I know.)

Coaches have faith in their clients

Did, at any time, Papa Goose pick up his baby to save her? Nope.

He watched closely and had faith in her that she will be able to do it eventually.

It might take a while. This is not an easy situation, swimming upstream, climbing rocks… But she can do it.

And so can you guys. If you set your mind to reach a goal, prepare carefully and keep doing your baby steps, I’m hundred percent positive you will get there. I have faith in you.

(How come? We haven’t even met! Because I believe that everybody can learn, change, and grow. If they want to. 🙂 )

Coaches listen carefully

At some point, baby gosling got totally carried away by the river… It looked like she is not going to stop ’til the ocean! So she started to make loud, fast ‘sheeep-sheeep-sheeep!’ sounds to signal Daddy that she is in trouble.

So when I’m having a coaching conversation, I’m listening closely. I pay attention to words, pauses, gestures, facial expressions… even the tension and energy coming from the client. People rarely make cute baby goose sounds, and rarely say explicitly what their biggest fears are… But us, coaches, have to be able to notice if something is wrong, if you guys are blocked, confused or afraid. So we could help you work your way through the mess.

Coaches are present… talking is overrated

Do you want to know what happened, when the river swept away the baby? Did Papa Goose give advice to his youngster? Told her what to do next? Warned her to be careful? No. Not a word. Not even a question.

He just stopped, swam right back to her and stayed with her.

Sometimes that’s all we can do. When the situation is just terribly bad, and my friend just cannot humanly do anything about it, I just stay with her. A little compassionate listening can go a long way to help us feel heard. And solutions will come later.

Coaches stay in touch and cheer

I noticed that while the baby found her solution, and jumped on rocks then swam a bit on quieter water then got out and jumped on rocks a bit again, Daddy made some gentle sounds from time to time. It was like ‘You’re getting there! Keep it up!’

His presence and his voice was enough for the gosling to calm down and keep paddling.

Coaches are the same for clients. You can count on us to be there when you are panicking, overwhelmed or ready to give up. Can we solve the problem for you? No.

But we can point out your strengths and cheer your efforts, as you are paddling like crazy and jumping on rocks. Way to go, baby goose!

Take away

In the end, the baby got a learning experience, some confidence boost and reached her goal. I work for about the same for all my clients, too. 🙂

If you have any questions, write a comment below or contact me through my contact page for a complimentary 30 minutes phone coaching session. Take care!