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4 Reasons We Procrastinate And How To Break The Pattern

Written by: Christy Roberts, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Procrastination is a common pitfall that way too many of us fall into. When we procrastinate, our attention is diverted somewhere else or our time is filled up with meaningless tasks. This means we’re not focusing where we should be and it affects our capacity to get through our work or tasks.

Procrastination can easily become habitual. We form patterns of repeated time-wasting behaviors, and if we continue to procrastinate over long periods of time:

  • It affects our motivation

  • It stops us from getting done what needs to get done

  • It affects our confidence and self-esteem

  • We can become disillusioned and disappointed in ourselves

  • We can get stuck

  • It affects our results and achievements over time

  • And you will not reach your potential

Procrastination is different to laziness. Laziness indicates an unwillingness to act and is linked to apathy and inactivity. Whereas in procrastination, we choose to do something else instead of what we should be doing. It’s an active process.


In procrastination, we typically focus on low-value tasks (Pareto principle & the 80/20 Rule), rather than focusing on the higher-value tasks that are going to help us achieve our goals.


If you are stuck in a pattern of procrastination, it’s important to realize that it’s entirely possible to overcome it.


ACTIVITY


Set your timer for 1 minute and take a moment to brainstorm …


How do you procrastinate?


Bring some awareness to it, and start calling yourself out on it. Hold yourself accountable.


I'm procrastinating. What could I be doing instead?


This activity is about making the choice to do what you should be doing, instead of the stuff that is wasting your time!


Realize that consciousness won't always be there in the beginning. To break the cycle, you need to create a new pattern of behavior, a new habit. So just keep at it, keep going.


Establishing a new habit means you’ve neurologically rewired your brain and behavioral patterns so that you're habitually performing them without even thinking.


In the beginning, change can be very messy. So anticipate you’re not going to get it right all the time. You're not going to remember every time, but just keep bringing your awareness and attention back to it. Don’t give up, keep going.


In the middle of forming a new habit, the results can be mediocre and haphazard. Hit and miss!


Then in the end it becomes quite easy, streamlined, effortless, and fluid. Habitual.


You’ve created a new pattern, a new habit.


Now, if you're putting off a task because your priorities have shifted or things have changed, that's not necessarily procrastination. But, if you keep putting off something indefinitely, I’d suggest you need to look at that.


Here are some examples of procrastinating:

  • Filling up your diary with really low-value tasks

  • Putting off important items on your to-do list for another time, or for a long time

  • Starting a really high-value task and then going off to make coffee or getting distracted

  • Reading emails several times over without actioning them or responding to them.

You're just staying in that cycle. You’re sabotaging your growth and your success.


Here are some reasons why we procrastinate:


1. The task is too big. It’s taking you completely out of your comfort zone. There is a saying, how do you eat an elephant? It's one bite at a time. You chunk it down and make it simple for yourself.


Break the task down into small chunks


2. You’re a perfectionist. Perfectionism is a form of procrastination and control. Does perfection even exist? You're setting yourself up for failure. I’d recommend getting really clear on what you want to do, and then taking imperfect action towards it.


I have a motto “Be perfectly imperfect and be perfectly happy with that.”


Perfectionism can be linked with a need for control. There's a fear of uncertainty that's associated with perfectionism. You want or need to control your environment. You need everything to be right, predictable, safe, and certain. It's uncomfortable for you not to have everything lined up and exact.


I’d encourage you to continue to bring awareness to this, and really challenge yourself to just get it done because this behavior pattern is keeping you from reaching your potential.


Imperfect action is better than no action


Getting things done and ticking off those tasks, even though they're not perfect, makes a big difference.


3. Poor decision-making ability. Some people struggle with their ability to make decisions. If you can't decide what to do, you'll put off taking action which means you won't get results because you're too worried about making the wrong choice.


If this is you, you need to focus on improving your decision-making ability and building your confidence. This is a skill you can most definitely enhance. I’d highly recommend working with a coach, I get fabulous results with my clients. It helps to fast-track results and break through limiting beliefs, fears, and thought patterns. It’s like having a Personal Trainer for your heart and mind.


4. The task is outside your level of comfort. Perhaps you procrastinate because you don't feel safe. You want to stay in your comfort zone.


How many people stay in a job for way too long when they’re very unhappy? Better the devil you know, right?


What about people who stay in relationships far too long? Rather than doing the work to improve themselves, their relationship, or getting out, they just stay stuck there, doing nothing, and really unhappy in their relationship.


It can be easy to forget you have choices and options!


So instead, you stay in your comfort zone. It's familiar. It's what you know. But your procrastination and inaction are only prolonging the pain. It’s keeping you stuck there longer!


Expanding your comfort zone:


Outside of our comfort zone is what I call the fear zone. This is where you lack confidence. You haven't done it yet. You'll find excuses not to go there because it's uncomfortable. There might be nervousness, anxiety, or fear that accompanies it.


But as you push more and more into the fear zone, what happens is our comfort zone expands. We begin to get more comfortable sitting in that fear and growth.


Interestingly, at a biological level, these feelings of anxiety, nervousness, and fear are exactly the same as excitement.


This means we can work on consciously shaping our thought process to shift our experience from nervousness to excitement.


A strategy I use, instead of calling it fear, nervousness, or anxiousness, I say:


I'm excited. I'm expanding right now because I'm growing


So if, and when you feel this way, just think of yourself as expanding because you're moving and growing out of your comfort zone.


This can really help you to overcome procrastination.


How to break the pattern:


Ask yourself: what is my real intention here?


When it's a deeply ingrained habitual pattern, it's not something that you can just overcome in a night. This takes repetition. This takes building a new habit, and new neural pathways. This is where it helps to have goals.


For example, I've lost a lot of weight. In the beginning, I procrastinated (a lot) on exercising, changing my diet, and all the usual things that people procrastinate on when it comes to losing weight and getting fitter.


Over the years, I’ve taken an approach of continually leveling up and fine-tuning.


It's been a gradual, slow process for me. A sustainable process. I’ve discovered that it works really well. And the big goal that I've set for myself, the big reward and motivator, is envisioning myself out in the future as the woman I want to be. I’m continually connecting with my BIG WHY.


When I'm in my 70s, when I'm in my 80's, I want to be fit and healthy.


I want to be able to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain. I want my body to be well functioning, fit, energized, and healthy.


I don't want to be held back because of my physical body and because I haven't looked after myself throughout my lifetime. I most definitely don’t want to have regrets.


My strategy is I envision the future self that I'm becoming.


I often think to myself, what can I do today that my future self is going to thank me for?


This is about committing to the task and the person you are choosing to become. No excuses. Don't let them get in the way. Catch yourself.


Focus on doing and don't allow yourself to avoid it. Notice when you're avoiding it and stop.


Just stop!


If it's a health and fitness goal and it feels too big, starting small could be as easy as putting on your workout clothes or shoes. Walking to the letter box. It doesn't matter. Putting on your workout gear is the new habit. Then build from there.


Consider, what is something I can do right now or today? Each day? Every day. And just keep moving towards your goals.


There's a lot of power in accountability. You can ask someone to check in on you.


What do you want?

  • Do you want to be the next CEO?

  • Do you want a promotion?

  • Do you want to have a balanced life?

  • Do you want a better relationship?

  • Do you want more quality time?

  • Do you want to lose weight?

  • Do you want to heal an injury?

  • Do you want to finish some studies?

Reflecting back on the earlier activity, have a look at the list you made of how you procrastinate. Really reflect on that for a moment.


Taking into account everything we’ve just covered:

  • Is there anything you can add?

  • How are you going to start calling yourself out?

  • What is going to change?

  • What new strategies are you going to put in place now to hold yourself accountable?

It is totally possible to change your patterns and overcome procrastination.


Your life is precious. Your time is precious and once it’s gone, you cannot get it back.


The power is yours.


Next steps:


If time management is a challenge for you, I encourage you to come along to our Master Your Time - Master Your Life FREE MasterClass or contact us to sign up for our new online self-paced program.


Watch our Podcast on Overcoming Self Sabotage.


Need some help, then reach out ‒ we offer free discovery calls. We’ll discuss where you’re at, where you want to be, what needs to change, and how working with a world-class Coach & Healer may be the next step to fast-track your results and get you moving again.


For more tips on overcoming procrastination, check out our Podcast Episode: Procrastination & Being Stuck


Your life is so precious, don’t waste it procrastinating and being mediocre. There’s so much more available to you.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


 

Christy Roberts, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Christy is the Global Self Directed Healing Practitioner Trainer, an award-winning Coach, and Grief Educator with over 20+ years of Human Resources and Organisational Development experience.


She helps people journey through the toughest of life’s challenges, like grief, trauma, anger, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, fear, overwhelm, stress, and burnout.

Christy is passionate about unlocking our human potential, transforming mindsets, and supporting people to get out of their own way and live their ultimate lives by achieving the success and results they desire.

She provides Coaching, Self Directed Healing, Workshops, and Educational Resources that positively impact people, leaders, and workplaces.


As Founder of Creating Change, she is driven to make a change in our society and culture, so that we are more authentically connected to ourselves and living with passion and purpose.

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