Now and then there’s a task on my “to do” list that lingers for a week, a month, or even a season; a task that I just never seem to get to. The longer a task lingers on my list, the less productive I feel.
A few months back, I had a book revision project on my to do list that didn’t get crossed off for much longer than I care to admit. In my head, this project was big, complicated, and involved research that I wasn’t very excited about. Isn’t that the root of procrastinating? The thinking – even if you haven’t taken the time to identify the specific thoughts driving the put off behavior?
At the time, my calendar was full, so I decided to use my regularly scheduled time with my coach that week to plot out a plan to tackle that writing project. That was a happy turning point!
That hour of coaching allowed me to slow down enough to reconnect with what made that particular book important to me in the first place and rekindled my passion for working on it. It also allowed me to create a schedule that included a starting point and a deadline, and way to be held accountable for sticking to that schedule. Most importantly, that coaching call opened my eyes to the beliefs that I previously confessed to you: that the project was big, complicated, and involved laborious research.
Turns out, when I finally got started the project wasn’t as big or complicated as I had anticipated; and the research was kind of fun. Honestly, half the battle is getting started!
It’s been several months since I completed that project – and having it behind me feels incredible! That project helped me to realize anew that most things aren’t nearly the big deal you think they are. Somehow, putting it off made the project seem worse as time went on.
Finishing that project has given me motivation to tackle several other lingering projects. Each time I accomplish a project, it has a way of inspiring me to enthusiastically attack other projects.
What have you been putting off, avoiding, or procrastinating on?
My beliefs about the project – they were a lie! Is it possible that your wrong beliefs are working against you too? Could your beliefs be keeping you from moving forward? Or perhaps what you’re putting off is about a fear of… failure, success, the unknown, or ______________.
Once you know what your beliefs are, then you can determine whether or not they are true. And if fear is keeping you from moving forward, it helps to identifying that fear so that you can face it and push through it.
Not sure how to sort through your beliefs and fears? Here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself about whatever you’re currently putting off:
- How important is this to me? Is this something that really needs to be done?
- What’s the cost if I don’t do this?
- What are the benefits of doing this?
- How is fear is lurking under my procrastinating about this?
- What resources do I need to move forward? Is it something I know how to do?
- What skills, information, etc. do I need to undertake this?
- How can I acquire the skills, information, etc. I need for this?
- What’s really keeping me from doing this?
- What’s a small step I can take to get started?
- How can I break this down into manageable steps?
- What needs to change so that I can focus my attention on this?
- What would encourage me be persistent and not quit?
If you determine that what you’ve been putting off is ultimately not that important to you and the cost of not doing it is minimal, maybe it’s time to remove that task from your list. After all, lingering to do’s are discouraging; making the decision to proactively eliminate something on your list – that’s empowering.
On the other hand, if what you’ve been putting off is something you deem worthy of your time and effort then fight for it!
Life is full for most of us making it easy to make excuses and ignore what’s causing you to resist certain tasks. Unless you make the choice to confront the truth, whatever is holding you back will remain invisible. It will continue to keep you from embracing all that God has for you.
Procrastination is a choice. Is it time to coax yourself into taking a wee baby step and begin whatever you’ve been putting off? Or maybe there’s something you’ve started but have yet to finish so it is almost like starting all over again.
That big hurdle – how can you reframe it? Those hurdles are invitations to get crazy creative and see whatever you’ve been avoiding from a whole new perspective.
After you’ve taken the time to ponder your beliefs and fears around whatever you’ve been procrastinating on, these next steps will help you successfully get ‘er done:
1. Create accountability
Enlist the help of a friend, a coach – someone who knows what you’re trying to accomplish that you can check in and celebrate with an as you make progress. Be sure they are also aware of the one or two reasons behind why you are undertaking this task.
2. Set a goal
Be sure to write your goal down. Keep it in front of you! It’s a good idea to make is a SMART goal: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound – with a deadline. A vague goal with no deadline encourages procrastination.
3. Make a plan
Break your goal down into manageable steps. Plot it on the calendar. Create a strategy to completing your task. Facing a task you aren’t sure how to break down – that’s an ideal opportunity to work with a coach!
4. Track your progress
In addition to crossing off your action steps on your “to do” list every day, having a visual way to track your overall progress makes a big difference. In my case, I committed to working on my revision project for an hour a day. Keeping a visual tracker of the days I spent working on my revision project gives me a visual of the progress I’m making and that’s motivating.
Time isn’t the only way to track progress. You might track calling 5 people a day if you are prospecting, or you might track your progress by identifying the steps in your process and crossing them off as you complete them.
5. Include God
I need God’s help all the time, but especially when it comes to tasks or projects that I am procrastinating on. Trusting Him allows me to get started and let go of the outcome because I know that no matter what happens I am deeply loved by Him.
Where could you be if you weren’t procrastinating?