This month’s Guest Blog is brought to you by Nicole Mackey from Phoenix, Arizona.
Procrastination is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to success, yet all of us experience it. A big project can immobilize us. Putting things off until later is almost second nature, so how can you beat this insidious destroyer of dreams? These three simple steps will help you move beyond procrastination and into the successful life you’ve always imagined.
Break It Down
Part of the reason we procrastinate is because we become overwhelmed. The project seems too big and time-consuming, so why even start? By breaking your task down into manageable chunks, you can eliminate that sense of dread you feel just thinking about it.
For example, maybe you need to clean your kitchen, but its a huge mess. This happens to me far more often than I’d like to admit. How do I get it done? One step at a time. I tell myself, ok, just go do one load of dishes. Once the dishes are finished, I take a break and look at the next step—wiping the counters and stove. And so on. Psychology Today recommends you give yourself a reward. For me that means a cup of my favorite drink or fifteen minutes of my favorite t.v. show. This method of breaking a large task into small chunks, with breaks and small rewards in-between, takes what was once too overwhelming to even think about and makes it manageable, giving you one less excuse not to do it.
Another reason we procrastinate is because we don’t think it matters to anyone but ourselves, when in reality it can affect our family, our friends, our co-workers and our employers. However, once you know someone cares, you tend to get things done. How often do you leave a big project at work incomplete? Rarely, if ever, because you know your boss is there, holding you accountable. Well, this can work for personal goals, too.
I’ve talked about being a writer forever, but what I failed to do was put my butt in the chair and write. I would put it off, day after day, and nothing ever got done. So I talked to my son and he agreed to check in with me and keep me accountable to write every day. When I am tempted to just skip it, I remember he will be checking in with me later to see what I’ve done. Just knowing someone cares is enough to eliminate yet another excuse to procrastinate.
Find Helpful Tools
Sometimes we put something off because we just don’t think about it. We have shoved it into the dark recesses of our minds and because it is no longer front and center, it doesn’t get done. One thing successful people have in common is they make good use of tools to keep them on track. It may be a planner, a calendar, a to-do list or accountability software. Whatever they choose, they use it to their advantage, to keep the important things where they belong, at the front of their mind.
One tool that has been very helpful to me is the Coach.me app for my phone. It lets me set weekly goals for the important habits I am trying to master and gives me a little incentive when I can see all those days I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. The high-fives and encouraging comments from other users is an added bonus. Encouragement and incentive are great antidotes to procrastination.
Have I conquered procrastination in my life? Hardly. But by following these three steps, I have gone from dreamer to doer. I write every day. I walk four times a week. I’m ticking off goals one at a time and the future is bright.
How do you battle procrastination in your life? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you.
Nicole Mackey is battling procrastination and writing her dreams in Phoenix, Arizona. You can contact her at http://www.nicolemackey.com