There are many reasons we procrastinate; these are the top six:

#1 You consider the task/project to be low priority (when it is not). 

  • Re-evaluate your goals.
  • Where does this task fit into your goals? Is it an A, B, C, D, or E task?
    • A is defined as something that is very important that you must do because it will have serious positive or negative consequences if you do it or fail to do it.
      • You may have more than one A task, and you can prioritize those by A1, A2, and A3.
    • B is a task that you should do but only has mild consequences such as returning an unimportant phone call or reviewing your email
    • C is a task defined as something that would be nice to do, but there are no consequences such as having lunch with a coworker.
    • D is a task that you can delegate. The rule is to delegate everything that someone else can do so that you can free up more time for the A tasks that only you can do.
    • E is a task that you can eliminate and it won’t make any difference if you do such as watching TV or browsing social media.

#2 You don’t have all the information necessary to make a decision or can’t figure out what to do next.

  • Don’t let this paralyze you into inaction.
  • Brainstorm how you can obtain the missing information.
  • Obtain more information about the overwhelming task.
  • Speak to others, gather more details.

The more you know; the overwhelming task can shrink and get more into perspective.

#3 The project seems overwhelming. 

  • Starting is often hard when a project seems overwhelming or too big.
  • Begin by doing a “brain dump” with mind mapping. Mind mapping is a diagram using a non-linear, intuitive approach to problem-solving, decision making and brainstorming. Mind maps are for many purposes, including taking notes, making lists, or even mapping out your future life; the options are endless!
  • Once you have completed your brainstorming take the information on your mind map and begin to create a sequential plan including what the task is, its deadline, and what resources are needed.
  • Next, organize the tasks by priority and sequence (the order in which the tasks are due).

#4 Fear of failure aka the perfectionist personality.

  • Failure is an opportunity to learn and grow. Failing makes you better!
  • Know that no matter how hard we strive perfectionism is never achieved.
  • Limit your options.
  • Instead, recognize when “good” is “good enough” if the alternative is delaying and doing nothing.

Take imperfect action.

#5 Avoidance – the task is or seems unpleasant.

  • To quote Benjamin Franklin, “You may delay, but time will not.”
  • According to Brian Tracy, one of the best ways to overcome procrastination is for you to get your mind off the unpleasant task in front of you and focus on a single action that you can take.

“One of the best ways to eat a large frog is for you to take it one bite at a time.”

Brian Tracy

  • Find an accountability buddy to help you set and meet deadlines.

#6 Awfulizing – You think the task/project will take forever to complete.

  • Break it down into small and manageable tasks.
  • Assign how much time you anticipate each task will take.
  • Schedule the tasks in your calendar to get a clear picture of how long it the task/project will take.

When do you procrastinate doing something and what must happen for you to then take action?

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