One of the things I’m often asked about is procrastination.
That frustrating tendency many of us have to fill our precious time with less important – often completely unneccessary activities at the expense of our most important activities.
Things like meal planning and exercise that absolutely belong on your important list yet may not ever seem quite urgent enough to make happen now… before the procrastination spiral of ineffectiveness takes control…
In today’s FAQ show I’m covering: How To Break Free Of Procrastination.
Like many habits, good or bad procrastination will build on itself.
The most effective approach is to create the systems and strategies that don’t even give it a chance to take hold.
Here are 3 steps to beat procrastination:
First Step: Categorise your activities. They are really going to fall into just a few groups…
A) The activity you see value in, and are the best person at this time to do yet something is preventing you from taking action.
With this activity my procrastination annialating trifecta of questions may help:
1. Confirm with yourself, Is there value in doing this?
For example: is there value in lifting weights today? …I can hear your “Hell yeah”
2. Will delaying make it any easier to do?
Unlikely right, you’re just going to waste energy thinking about what you should be doing.
3. Will you feel better once it’s done?
Again, you never regret the work-out you do.
B) The activity you see value in yet don’t need to do yourself.
Perhaps you’re procrastinating with this activity because:
1. You know it’s not the best use of your time.
For example: shopping for food or designing a training program.
2. You know someone else could do a better job more quickly and maybe even more cost effectively if it’s not your skill set.
Perhaps home delivery is a solution. Or following a program from a trainer you respect.
3. You know it’s going to be frustrating or boring or just a massive time eat to do this activity.
The answer with this activity is to delegate.
It’s amazing how less likely I am to procrastinate over my important activities now that I’ve delegated some of the actives I see value in yet personally used to find frustrating, boring and an annoying time eat.
C) the activity you shouldn’t have agreed to and no longer see value in.
Be very mindful of what you saying yes to. Actually say No more.
As with overcoming overwhelm which I’ve written about a lot and I’ll link to in today’s show notes – just go to strongbodygreenplanet.com and type 065 in the search box at the top right… anyway, procrastination success starts with first admitting you will never get it all done and second getting super clear on what are the high priority actions you will get done.
Second step: Systemise your high value high priority activities.
So here you’re designing systems to protect against yourself and your inner procrastination tendency.
I used to find systems really boring and restrictive. I’ve since decided they actually help me get the things that are most important done and that means I get to:
1) See the results for actually getting that high value stuff done.
2) Spend more time doing other high fun yet perhaps not so important stuff… because I haven’t wasted hours in procrastination mode. And let’s be honest, you’re often not doing high fun things when you’re in procrastination mode you’re literally just wasting time.
3) Spend less time stressing about what I should be doing.
Here are some things you may like to systemise:
=> The days and times you work out.
=> The days and times you plan, shop for, and cook your weekly meals.
=> Your night time routine: so for example planning the day to come / the time you go to bed so that you can wake up fresh the next morning / the input your allow your mind to focus on before sleep… is it trashy TV, depressing news or could it be your goals and gratitudes?
=> Your morning routine: so for example the first meal you consume / your morning exercise / the first task you launch into… is it someone else’s priority that’s landed in your inbox or could it be the most high value task in your day instead?
I have a secret weapon for helping me power into these tasks – because even when you know something is worth doing – and that you’re the best person to do it… even though you know you’ll feel rubbish it you don’t do it and awesome when you do… it can still be tough to just make that start.
A timer is the simple secret weapon I rely on to get me into action taking mode.
I find it installs a sense of urgency and focus while at the same time removes the imagined pressure I can otherwise bring on myself by feeling like there is a daunting never-ending amount of work to be done.
I just set my little timer for 30, 45, 90 minutes dependent on the size of the task and I’m off!
If there are a few random little things that are eating up mind energy sitting on my daily to do list I’ll give them 3 sets of 20mins or 6 sets of 10mins where I’m working rapid fire with my trusty timer… It’s amazing how much you can power through like that.
Third step: Secure your environment against low value low priority procrastination tactics.
Here you’re eliminating or at least minimising those distractions that have dragged you into procrastination mode in the past.
=> Perhaps that’s disabling the internet on your computer via an app like Rescue-time or Freedom… or putting in your headphones at the gym so you’re not going to get distracted chatting more than training.
=> Possibly it’s sorting your water and snacks before sitting down to work so you don’t feel the need to wander to the kitchen or the cafe.
=> Maybe its setting a timeframe for your work-out or meal planning so it can’t drag on and on.
Final consideration to break free of procrastination:
Work in realistic blocks of focused time.
This is another way in which your timer will be super useful. I know if I sit in front of the computer with the whole afternoon ahead of me those hours will start to get less effective if I keep them unstructured.
Bursts of 45 or 90 minute work periods followed by structured time-out always keeps me more effective than meandering through the afternoon hours where I’m more likely to find myself suddenly squandering time on Facebook or some blog.
It’s the same with exercise. Find the period of time that you can be effective and focused for and commit to it. With your timer or with your timed play-list to keep you powering.
Ok, let’s make this actionable.
I want to start with the NO – to recap that’s the C) activities from step 1. Activities you shouldn’t have agreed to and no longer see value in.
In relation to breaking free of procrastination over A) activities from step 1. Activities you see value in, and are the best person at this time to do a big high value first step is to buy yourself some time and some energy and you’re going to do that by saying NO to a C) activity.
Just one. That’s all I need for today.
And that bring us to the end of another week in Healthification.
Super huge thanks to you for sharing this week with me.
This week an extra big THANK YOU to Smiley JJ who writes:
Fantastic podcast, the best I’ve come across in this genre. Great to focus on getting in the right headspace and really motivating. Pls keep going Kate. Could we have one on strategies to deal with ‘sneaky eating’
Smiley JJ you are awesome and this weeks tuesday tucker show on sneaky binge eating was especially for you, thank you.
If you liked this you’ll also like: How To Maximize Your Daily Eating and Exercise Discipline.
If you’re yet to share the Healthification love – just click here to zip over to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review. It’d help me out big time. With gratitude, Kate.