How to kick procrastination to the kerb
Juliet Landau-Pope is a professional organiser, certified coach, published author and teaches study skills to teens. She is based in North London and loves nothing more than sharing her insight into procrastination and perfectionism.
Are you avoiding an essential project at home or at work?
A pile of paperwork that needs filing, an application for a fantastic job, or a room that you’d really like to sort out, perhaps?
Or have you embarked on an important task, started with tremendous gusto but then run out of steam?
In either case, there’s no escaping the stress and self-criticism associated with procrastination. The good news is that it’s a universal challenge, affecting people of all ages and at all stages of life.
You’re certainly not alone
As a certified coach and professional organiser, I’ve worked for more than ten years with people like you who struggle to get started or to complete vital tasks. While everyone’s circumstances are unique, I’ve noticed some common themes. Most importantly, it’s clear that procrastination isn’t a personality trait: like clutter, it’s a habit that builds up over time and then starts to get in the way. But like other habits, it can also be shifted.
So here are my five top tips for kicking procrastination to the kerb and being more productive
Set yourself a positive goal
Focus on what you want to achieve and try to visualise all the benefits. Instead of ‘getting rid of stuff’, for instance, picture what will become possible when you declutter a specific space in your home.
Identify the first step you need to take
Identify the very first step that you need to take, however small or insignificant it might seem. You might need to literally walk into a room that you’ve been avoiding or gather together some important papers. Tackling these micro-goals one at a time can be more manageable than thinking about an entire project.
Don’t wait until you have time – make time!
Planning and prioritising are key to overcoming procrastination. And remember that ‘someday’ isn’t a day of the week. Decide what you need to do, then commit to a particular date, write it down in your diary or planner and set a reminder.
Make yourself accountable to someone else
Tell your partner, trusted friend or colleague what you intend to do and when you intend to do it. Creating this accountability structure means you’re more likely to at least make a start. If you’re working with a coach or professional organiser, you’ll find it invaluable to share your goals and discuss your progress with them.
Listen to the excuses that you tell yourself
Finally, listen to the excuses that you tell yourself – and perhaps other people – while you’re procrastinating. Then reflect on how you might reframe your story. For example, if you tell yourself that you work well under pressure, consider how much better you might perform without a looming deadline. And how much do you really LIVE under pressure? Shift the story and you’re on the way to shifting the habit!
If you want to hear more from Juliet, you can listen into her on our podcast, visit her website or follow her on Twitter, Instagram. Juliet has written two fantastic books to help you on your way to being more productive and clearing your clutter. You can find out more about them here.