Overcoming Procrastination - Part 1

Posted by: Jo Banks

Date: 15-10-2015

Have you labelled yourself as a procrastinator? Do you put things off that you know you should be doing?

Do you find it extremely hard to start something? Do you find yourself doing anything (I call it ‘cleaning out your kitchen cupboards’) rather than doing the thing that you think you should be doing? Well you’re not alone. Pretty much everyone I meet does some or all of the things above, plus more.

I’ve been studying this with some of my clients and friends and find that when I question them about the things they are telling themselves and the reasons why they don’t do what they think they should be doing, I find that actually you can’t just put it down to one issue ie ‘procrastination’ it’s usually one of 5 things that we put under the heading of procrastination:

  1. Inertia
  2. Learned helplessness
  3. Resistance
  4. Forcing the flow
  5. Chasing the wrong goal

So let’s look at each of those 5 things.

1.  Lethergy - Inability to get into action

By lethergy I mean in inability to get in to action, you just can seem to get started. The ‘thing’ you want to do seems too big or too hard or you don’t know where to start ... so you don’t!

The key to combating this is to make a start - start anywhere, even if it’s one tiny thing that moves you in the right direction. Just do one small thing that moves you forward. For example, if you want to start to exercise, just walk around the block. If you want to start saving, just start with saving £5. Starting small will get you ‘in motion’ and by the law of motion, motion creates more motion and you’ll find that you don’t stop there. You’ll get carried along and the more you do to take you towards your goal, the more you’ll want to do.

The other way to do it is to start BIG! Go all out. If you want to pay your debts off, push yourself and pay more than you intended to. If you want to start to exercise, sign yourself up for a 5K with some friends (you’re less likely to back out then!).

If you’re worried that once you start then you won’t be able to stop and it will use up more of your time than you want it to, set yourself 15 minute time blocks in which to do it. 15 minutes is nothing in a 24 hour day and you’d be amazed how focussed you can be if you’ve set yourself a short time scale. You can also get an awful lot done in a concentrated 15 minutes. Commit to the time box and not to the result, if you do that, the results are sure to follow.

2.  Learned Helplessness

When you find enough reasons to do something, nothing will stop you. Tony Robins (world renowned self help guru) says, ‘If you can find enough reasons to do something, you can get yourself to do anything’.

Here are some quick tips to help you overcome learned helplessness:

  • Write down as many reasons (no matter how big or small) as you can for doing the thing you want to do. Do this with someone else if that helps. Just make sure you do it.
  • Make plans regarding how you would go about achieving it (see my posts on goal setting to help you with this).
  • Gather evidence that will help support your goal. That might means statistics, research who has done what you’ve done before, what help is out there for you etc.

3.  Resistance

Michael Neill (another self help guru) sums up resistance nicely:

  • You are almost never resisting performing a task;
  • Rather you are resisting being ‘forced’ to perform the task.

In his book ‘You Can Have What you Want’ he gives an example of not making sales calls and he says that he can either beat himself up for being a horrible person or ‘sneak up’ on his resistance using time management techniques or just give up! But he says what if he’s resisting making the calls because he just doesn’t want to be told what to do ... even if it’s him that’s doing the telling.

So what’s the solution? Stop giving yourself such a hard time. When we’re pushed, we push back. Trust that you know what’s best for you (most of us don’t trust that we know that) and just do the thing because you want to, not because you or anyone else is forcing you to!

Do you keep procrastinating about something you want to achieve?  Or worse, have you labelled yourself as a procrastinator?  If so, why not contact us for a free no obligation consultation on how we can help you.

JO's FIRST BOOK: Thoughts Become Things

Visit the website for Jo Banks' first book, Thoughts Become Things now available in paperback and Kindle formats.