Recently I revisited my goals for the year. On one hand I have a few goals that have experienced great traction over the past few months. But I have to admit, there are a few others that…well let’s just say they have more opportunity for future growth. Sadly procrastination has definitely claimed the progress on those goals.

Talking to a few friends recently, I realized I’m not alone when it comes to putting off until tomorrow what could be done today. The conversations have helped me realize that when we understand why we’re procrastinating, it’s far easier to be empowered to begin moving forward.

Reasons we procrastinate:

  • The task seems too big. When we focus on the mountain, and can’t see the steps to climb it, we can be paralyzed by the size of the task at hand.
  • There are too many distractions. In a day when smart phones are more powerful than computers once were, we’ve got powerful distractions such as social media and email at the tip of our fingers. All the “noise” of the world around us can pull our focus from our progress.
  • Fear. We may fear failure or even success.
  • We don’t know ‘how.” If we don’t really know what we need to do or how to do it, we can be stuck in limbo. Often we can make the task seem much harder than it really is and we don’t realize that we already know how to do it.
  • We lack self discipline or self control. Sometimes we know exactly what we need to do yet still don’t do it because we don’t hold ourselves accountable.
  • The task is unpleasant. It’s easy to put off a task that we know won’t be fun or enjoyable. But, doing so causes us to carry the burden of the unpleasant task longer than if we just did it and got it out of the way.

The great news is, we can choose to change and can win the battle against procrastination!

How to stop procrastinating:

  • Break large tasks into smaller more manageable milestones.
  • Give yourself a deadline.
  • Evaluate the cost of procrastinating. You may find the cost is not worth putting off the task because it may become an even bigger effort if you wait.
  • Set a reasonable reward for yourself for making progress and getting the effort done.
  • Set a timer and focus for a half hour or an hour. Don’t allow distractions to deter you while the timer is running. You’ll be surprised how much you can get done in focused bursts of effort.
  • Commit to doing the task for your future. If it’s an unpleasant task that you’d rather not do now, do it so that you don’t have to do it later. Your future benefits.
  • Be accountable. Find a friend who can help keep you on track and encourage your continued progress.

Once you realize why you’re procrastinating, it’s easier to address the roadblock and get the task done. I’ve recently caught myself putting off something that wasn’t a fun project. By procrastinating I realized I made it last twice as long as it needed to. Next time I catch myself doing that, I’ll push to get it done and move on sooner!

Do you ever catch yourself procrastinating too? What’s your biggest cause and how do you move forward? I’d love to hear from you.