4 ways to stop procrastinating
Q: I know this isn’t necessarily your area of expertise but as a fellow writer I’m really struggling with motivation at the moment and wondered if you had any tips to avoid procrastinating. Thanks, Gus A: I totally understand Gus! And, yes while I’m certainly not a time management expert I have a few tips that I’ve found helpful, particularly when it comes to writing books.
Here are four tips to avoid procrastination:
1. Sometimes what we perceive as procrastination is not really that at all. If you trust that you are supposed to take action when you actually do, you can start to see synchronicity in your life.
Yet this might depend on whether we are talking about the washing up or changing career here! If it’s washing up, the sooner that’s done the better. If it’s the career, or other such lifechanging choices, trust the timing rather than seeing it as procrastination. It takes the fear out of it and you’ll do it sooner.
2. If emails are an area where you procrastinate, get a system where you reply immediately if it takes two minutes or less. But if it takes more than that, have a folder where those emails go. Schedule a chunk of time to tend to those emails, but start at the bottom of the folder, no matter what.
Otherwise it’s like always opening the top few letters in the pile that you receive in the post and never getting to the bottom of them. And the longer they linger, the more procrastinating you’ll do about them!
3. To-do lists don’t work. They just add to the stress for most people, as they are never all ticked off. What gets scheduled gets done. Replace the title ‘‘to-do list’’ with ‘‘capture list’’. Once you have your tasks captured, schedule them into your diary. Everything from chunks of time to return phone calls, reply to emails, progress a project, buy groceries.
You end up with more leisure time and you can be more present when doing things you love with people you love, instead of remembering all of the things you haven’t done and worrying about them. Scheduling and the freedom this brings is a powerful way to end procrastination. You literally just do your tasks – you show up for yourself, the way you’d show up for a meeting with other people.
4. Be really honest with yourself about why you’re procrastinating. Are you procrastinating because the work is too hard and you’re too embarrassed to ask for help?
Or is it because you find it boring and it’s actually not what you want to be doing at all? For example, your role may have become heavily administrative but you really love creative work, so naturally you find yourself procrastinating. If you can get to the heart of why you’re procrastinating you’re far more likely to find an effective solution. ❚ Dr Libby is a nutritional biochemist, best-selling author and speaker. The advice contained in this column is not intended to be a substitute for direct, personalised advice from a health professional. For a journey of education and inspiration, join Dr Libby’s Weight Loss For Women course starting May 1. For more information visit drlibby.com
To-do lists just add to the stress for most people, as they are never all ticked off.