Virtually everyone has a mental list of those things they’ll get to “eventually.” It might be annoying chores, like vacuuming or organizing your leggings drawer. Or it might be bigger goals you have in the back of your mind but haven’t gotten to yet, like writing a book or signing up for improv classes. There just always seems to be something else to do first (ahem, that tempting quiz that will help you find out when you’ll get engaged based on your Chipotle order).
Procrastination means you’re delaying something, or putting it off. Why we do it is a lot more complicated than “just not feeling like it right now.” Life coach and What If It Does Work Out? author Susie Moore is the queen of getting sh*t done. Not only does she run her own business (from home, where there are a million ways to procrastinate), she helps others tackle all those things they’re putting off and she even helps them figure out how to find time to build a successful side hustle. Here, Moore gives her best tips for how to overcome procrastination. Get ready to destroy your to-do list.
Keep reading for tips on how to overcome procrastination.
1. Get to the root of self-doubt
If there’s something you actually do really want to do—like pursing a side hustle—but you never seem to make time, Moore says you could be subconsciously stopping yourself because deep down, you don’t think you deserve it. “The root is really about unworthiness,” she says. “Often we delay things that would bring good things to us, either because we think we’ll mess it up or we don’t think we are worthy of it.”
Moore says it’s key to get to the root of where those feelings of fear and unworthiness are coming from. “You have to ask yourself, ‘What’s the benefit of not doing it?’ Are you protecting yourself from risking failure? Judgement of others?” she asks. These are big, scary questions to ask yourself, but if you don’t face your fears, your Big Dreams may stay just that—dreams. To push those fears aside, you have to remind yourself of your strengths, worthiness, and why it’s important to you. Then, plan your first actionable step and get started.
2. Have a system in place
Okay, so procrastinating on big goals is one thing. But what if it’s more the stuff you flat out don’t want to do that you put off, like chores? For this, Moore says it’s important to have a system in place so the tasks you dread automatically get done in the moment. “For example, if you hate washing dishes, implement a system where you wash them right after you’re done eating so they don’t pile up,” she says. “When we create auto responses like this, we can set them up to serve us and then we take out all the decision making.”
3. Bite the bullet on things you really don’t want to do
There’s boring ol’ chores and then there’s the stuff that seriously fill you with dread, like telling your friend you can’t afford to go on her destination bachelorette. If you’re putting off something difficult, Moore has three words of advice: set a deadline. “Tell yourself, ‘Okay, by the end of the week, this is going to happen,'” she says. “Action is the antidote to fear. Often if you delay something, you build it up in your mind to be this big Thing, but in actuality, when you do it, it’s really not that bad.” Sometimes, you just have to rip off that Band-Aid.
4. Give yourself some easy wins
Sometimes the root of procrastination is looking at your mile-long to do list and having absolutely no idea where to start. For this, Moore says, there are different methods. Some people like to eat the frog, tackling the hardest task first. “What actually works better for me is actually ticking off a few easy tasks first,” Moore says. “Maybe I have to call someone who is actually really fun to talk to, so I do that first, or I send some emails because that only takes a few minutes. Then I’m able to look down at my to do list and a couple things are crossed out already.”
Experiment and figure out which method works best for you. If the easy wins jumpstart your motivation and you find yourself on a roll, awesome. If you do them but still feel slightly panic-y because you have those larger tasks hanging over you, re-evaluate. In the end, everything has to get done, so there’s really no wrong way to go about it.
5. Set clear work hours—no distractions allowed
It can be really easy to procrastinate if you work from home. There’s no one watching you to make sure you’re getting everything done and it’s up to you to structure your day. Suddenly, there’s laundry to do, and, oh, maybe you’ll just take a break and figure out how to make cauliflower pizza crust real quick… “The most successful entrepreneurs don’t necessarily work all day, Monday through Friday, but they do designate what their work hours are and stick to them,” Moore says. “During this time, all distractions need to be turned off. That means putting your phone in another room, unless you need it for work.”
She explains that once you power through your work hours, then you can reward yourself with breaks, whether it’s spending 15 minutes checking Instagram or going to a restorative yoga class. “You can schedule your own breaks, designating 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. as work hours, a break from 12 to 3 p.m., and then working again from 3 to 5 p.m., for example,” she says. “Have fun with it—it’s one of the major benefits of working at home!”
As you can see, there isn’t just one root cause of procrastination. But wherever it’s stemming from, there’s no denying that getting done whatever it is you’ve been putting off feels pretty darn amazing.
Speaking of crushing your to do list, this hack will make you more productive at work. Plus, the case for scheduling “worry time” into your Google Cal.
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