Can procrastination be cured?
In my work as a business networking meeting facilitator, I speak to dozens of business owners every month and a common problem that holds them back is not getting through their to-do list. Today I thought I would tackle the question ‘Can procrastination be cured?’
Using the word ‘cured’ makes us think of illness or disease, so is procrastination a mental health issue that can be cured? Or is it simply an unhelpful behaviour trait?
Although procrastination is not a mental health condition per se, it is often associated with the following conditions:
- ADHD – People who have ADHD struggle to stay focused for even short periods of time so procrastination is a daily battle.
- Depression – when you are clinically depressed it can be extremely difficult to stay motivated even for simple tasks.
Anxiety – a huge driver of procrastination is anxiety. If you are constantly worried about whether you will perform the task well or hit the deadline, then this can cause you to delay getting started.
One thing you really need to know about procrastination is that it is not a time management problem; it is a mindset problem.
So, let’s look at things you can do to overcome procrastination.
- Stop thinking the worst will happen
If you are constantly worried that things will be difficult or turn out badly, this will prevent you from even getting started. Perhaps the task won’t be as hard as you think, so just commit to doing five minutes and take it from there.
- Be realistic
Set yourself achievable goals so that when you sit down to do a task it doesn’t feel completely overwhelming. For example, if your goal is to create a social media plan for 2022, that’s a big job. Recognise that you aren’t going to get through that in one sitting.
- Aim for good enough not perfect
People who strive for perfection can often suffer from procrastination because they are stressed about not being able to do a perfect job. You don’t have to be perfect to run a highly successful business so stop holding yourself back. Your ‘good enough’ is likely to be highly valued by your client.
- Split tasks into more manageable pieces
Manage your tendency to procrastinate by splitting larger tasks into bite-sized chunks. For jobs that you find dull or repetitive, spread it out across several sessions so that you only commit to 30 minutes before you can move on. Over the course of the week or month, you will gradually complete the task.
- Schedule activities
If you keep telling yourself that you will do a task ‘when you have time’, it’s much less likely to get done than if you allocate blocks of time in your calendar to do it. But you might need help to stick to your schedule so…
- Get an accountability buddy
Telling someone you are going to do something by a certain date means you are much more likely to do it because you won’t want to look like you’ve gone back on your commitment to the other person. You can both benefit from this arrangement to do what you say you are going to do.
- Stop with the excuses
If you always find yourself saying ‘I need a deadline to get me motivated to start’ or ‘I have to wait until the inspiration strikes’, you are kidding yourself. There is never a perfect time to start so you might as well just start now.
- Reward yourself
Many people are motivated by short term rewards, so why not give yourself a little treat once you have completed a task that you find hard to get started on. I find cake is a great motivator!
- Celebrate successes
We are our own worst critics, and this can adversely affect our energy and drive, leading to procrastination. The next time you have a success in business, celebrate it. Tell your network about it and perhaps even plan bigger celebrations such as a meal out or an experience with friends when you hit your business goals.
- Don’t beat yourself up
Thoughts such as ‘I’m no good at planning or ‘Why do I always procrastinate?’ aren’t helpful. Beating yourself up about what happened in the past is only going to lead to more procrastination. It’s time to move on.
Can procrastination be cured at Step Up to Success?
Short answer, Yes!
Step Up to Success is provides support, encouragement and accountability for small business owners who need a helping hand to move their business forward. In the group, we believe that procrastination can be cured when you have the right people around you to keep you focused on the steps you need to take. In addition, Step Up membership offers group masterminds so you can brainstorm solutions to your issues and training workshops to improve your business skills. Call me for a chat about becoming a member.
You can also connect with me on LinkedIn.