Break Your Procrastination Cycle

"You're such a procrastinator!"

It's been well over a decade since I've heard these words, and they couldn't be further from the truth ... today. However, yes, I'll be the first to stand up and say, "My name is Honorée Corder, and I am a reformed procrastination junkie."

I still remember some of these negative messages my mother used to give me as a pre-teen that stayed with me all the way up into my early 20s when I finally realized I could DECIDE whether I wanted to be a procrastinator forever, or be a take-action-right-now kind of person. That's when I re-created my identity into the professional I wanted to be.

The result? A 180-degree turn around, where she wouldn't recognize me today for being the flurry of activity and take-charge attitude that is now the success habits I choose to exercise.

So - let's start off with your first Coaching Tip of today:

Success Tip #1: The actions you execute each and every day are your choice and under your control.

If you're anything like I was, you'll relate to the piles of paper that build up, and tasks you never seem to get the time to complete. All the little things around the house that need to be completed, along with the annoyance and frustration they cause ("tolerations"). Interestingly enough, the more responsibilities I took on in life and in my career, the more I knew I needed to tackle that dirty little habit. I knew that it would become a severe limiter on my success if I let this all too common habit permeate my life. 

That's all procrastination really is - a bad habit.

Success Tip #2: The good news is that if you can develop bad habits, you can also develop good ones!

All you need to do to get started on creating success habits is to have desire.

  1. You must WANT to destroy an old habit so that you can intentionally replace it with a positive success habit.
  2. Next, you must understand how the cycle of procrastination works, so you can break it once and for all.

The habit of procrastination depletes your energy faster than you may realize. It's addictive and seemingly unbreakable, almost as if it's part of your DNA coding. I'm happy to report it is not! It's merely a bad habit that probably started when you were young, unaware and unmotivated to complete a task that someone else valued as a higher priority than you did at the time. 

Have you noticed that as you allow the papers on your desk or in your inbox to continue to pile up - the piles and stacks and things to do list just gets bigger and bigger?

You begin to lose the motivation and the interest to get through those stacks. You get tired. All you want to do is focus on something you CAN accomplish, in order to feel a sense of value in your day - even if it means dusting your copier in the corner of the office, or checking email, or running an errand. Or yes, even playing a round of solitaire - which can become an addiction in and of itself, especially because it has all the components of positive reinforcement for your brain. It has a definite beginning, specific rules in the middle, and conclusive end. Until, of course, you click restart. Then the cycle of wasting time begins.

Sometimes it takes sheer discipline to overcome. If you find the right motivation with the right rewards to keep you moving in the right direction to be on purpose with the right tasks, you'll be on the fast track toward kicking the procrastination habit for good!

If you want to renounce your addition to procrastination and kick the procrastination habit forever, start by doing the following right now:

Think of something you must accomplish today. Perhaps it's something you've been putting off for days ... maybe weeks.

1. List the consequences if you don't do what you need to do RIGHT NOW.
2. List the rewards to taking action (the opposite of inaction).
3. See yourself enjoying these rewards right now once you accomplish the task before you.
4. Begin saying the following - "The best time to do this is RIGHT NOW!" (This is a Big One!)

Most procrastinators delay what needs to be done because of what they say to themselves.
For instance, if you find yourself saying, "Oh, I'll just do that tomorrow" you'll note one important thing that keeps you addicted to procrastination for the rest of your life.

***HINT: Tomorrow NEVER comes.***

HOWEVER! When you get into the habit of saying you'll do this right now, you'll quickly attach a sense of urgency to getting things done sooner rather than never. By the way, this doesn't mean you do everything as soon as it comes across your desk, in fact, the most effective way to lower your stress level and increase your productivity is to schedule the task as soon as it occurs to you. What it means is that you focus on the right tasks at the right time, including what you've got to do in front of you right now. 

Any task that you shouldn't be doing right now, but need to do personally (as opposed to delegating it) needs to be scheduled for completion at the right and perfect time. All you need to do is calendar (schedule) a task or priority as an appointment in your schedule, and you're well on your way to licking this habit once and for all! Attach a reminder to the high priority tasks you schedule in your appointment book, and now you're not just licking the habit, you're getting things done!

Success Tip #3: You are a unique individual. There is no one else that has been created exactly the same as you. (Amazing, and true!)

Keep in mind, every person in this world is unique. That's why each of my coaching clients have added a slight variation to this system.

Success Tip #4: Anytime you read tips and strategies in books, magazines and newspapers - simply try what appeals to you, and apply what works best for you, and your natural style.

Knowing your strengths, weaknesses and unique motivational style will help you apply the tips that will work best for your unique, natural style, while adapting the ones that don't match your style. Ultimately discovering your own unique success strategy.

Success Tip #5: Follow the system below for breaking the cycle of procrastination forever!

Let's say you want to begin to lick the procrastination habit by starting with your desk and email overload that keeps draining your energy. Here are some ideas to get you started in developing a system that will get you moving quickly in the right direction and becoming the most organized person in your office.

1. Block out specific time every day to clean out your inbox. (You are using Blocked Time, right??)  Don't fall prey to doing it any other time of the day/week, only when you've scheduled time to do it. In other words: Stick to your schedule!

2. Create a separate "follow up" folder in your email/Outlook folders. Set aside time each day to go through it and take action on it.

3. Hire a Virtual Assistant ... once you become successful enough that your workload is more than one person can handle. You'll love this one the best -- because it means you're getting multiple projects done - simultaneously - yet you're only focusing on what matters most.

4. Delegate any tasks that you are not a natural at doing AND are paid to do (bookkeeping, scheduling travel arrangements, lunches, etc.) to people who can do them better, faster, and for less money than you. Of course this requires humility and a reduced ego in order to do this properly. Too often, people try to do everything, because they feel important taking care of tasks, and think they're irreplaceable. Get rid of that stinkin' thinkin' and delegate away! You'll be glad you did once you see the results.

5. Once a month - set a recurring date with yourself. You may even want to have "organization parties" in your company - where the entire day is dedicated to going through piles/stacks/project shelves etc. to ensure all priority projects are being handled in an appropriate time frame.

6. Pull an all-nighter. Perhaps you haven't done this since college days. But it's amazing how great you feel when you finally go to bed, knowing you've finished everything important, and have set days with specific times attached when you'll complete upcoming projects you're working on. You'll actually wake up feeling more energized and alive than you would if you actually had 8 hours of sleep. A good night's sleep can be quickly depleted once you walk in to an office with stacks and piles of folders and requests and a long things-to-do list.

The Coaching Corner:
I'm always saying: Ask yourself a better question, get a better result. Here's a Power Question for you: 
What will you do starting right now that will get you more organized and motivated to have a clean, clear desk with only high priority project folders directly in front of you?
Let today be the day you begin to become massively successful in this area of your professional life, and watch what it does for your upward mobility.

Honorée has dedicated her life to being a positive force for good. She writes personal and professional growth books for professionals, and The Successful Single Mom books series. As an executive coach and corporate trainer, she turns service providers into rainmakers, average producers into rock-stars, and dreams into reality. For more information on how she can specifically help you or your organization, click here.

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