If you’ve ever found yourself putting off an important task then this blog is going to be useful for you. We’ll be exploring what causes us to procrastinate and what to do about it.
In my experience of coaching highly successful women I’ve discovered that a lot of women tell themselves they’re procrastinating when actually it’s something else. So let’s start with a definition.
My definition of procrastination is putting off an important task.
It’s not putting off an unimportant task, that’s prioritisation.
It’s also not putting off an important task when you’re tired. By my definition that’s energy management.
For example, recently I needed to film 3 new episodes of Jo & Co (my online TV show), I’d been to the hairdresser, I was all ready to go back to the studio but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It would have been easy to think ‘I’m procrastinating,’ but when I took stock of all I’d been doing I just knew I wasn’t in the right energetic state to make great TV episodes. So I rescheduled, took a walk in the woods instead and replenished myself with some nourishing food, relaxing videos and an early night.
This brings me to a reminder of our One of many™ #1 Soft Power Principle which is first replenish your energy. I really can’t say this enough, your energy is the most important thing. So instead of engaging super woman to push through your to-do list when you need some time out, take it, you’ll be so much more effective and happier because of it.
From its Latin roots, procrastination literally means putting off until tomorrow.
But I don’t think procrastination serves us at all. So often the inner critic is having a field day, and to tell yourself you are procrastinating makes you feel bad about yourself.
Let’s face it, sometimes we need to defer important tasks. So instead of giving yourself a hard time I invite you to look at why you’re doing it because this always opens up a solution. Ask yourself ‘why am I deferring this important task?’
If it’s not that you need to replenish your energy (always start there) perhaps it’s one of these other 6 reasons…
Lack of momentum.
One of the common reasons people don’t get things done is simply a lack of momentum. I’ve noticed this with a lot of my clients. If you’re starting a new business or are taking a shift in your business, the first thing you need to do is to get into momentum.
Start by prioritising what’s important and break it into smaller chunks so you can make a start. This begins to create momentum.
We teach this energy allocation process in our programs (especially BeFruitful) and at our retreats. It’s so powerful and exciting to witness the momentum build and burst forth into fruitful action.
Out of Flow.
Perhaps it’s an out of flow activity for you. By this I mean it’s not aligned with your natural strengths and talents.
The simplest solution is to give it to someone else who can help you with the task. But that’s not always possible is it. When I was a solopreneur I needed to do a lot of out of flow tasks. For me, it’s the detailed tasks like the figures that I find most challenging.
The way I found to do it was the batching for energy matching process. Quite simply this means tasks of similar energy should be batched together. Then you reward yourself at the end.
I used to do my figures every Friday afternoon and then reward myself by having drinks with my friends.
As a business owner it’s important to know your figures, so I still have to do this task. What I do now is use the Women’s Archetypes to embody the most efficient and effective energy for the task at hand.
You can find out more about the Archetypes in our program Embrace: Your Soft Power (email email@example.com if you want more info).
Maybe you need to let go of a staff member, have a strong conversation with a client, or a difficult conversation with your spouse or teenage daughter. None of us can completely avoid the fact that on occasion these challenging and uncomfortable tasks arise.
The best way to deal with this is to do it first thing the very next day. Or in other words ‘Eat that Frog’, the well-known phrase from Brian Tracy’s best-selling book.
Don’t forget to reward yourself when you’ve done it.
In our BeOne community we have a buddy system, so women can create accountability partners for such life challenges.
Another commonality I see in high performing women is putting off things that take longer to do. Those tasks that require consistent effort get delayed.
Remember Soft Power Principle #1? Check your energy levels first. If you are low on energy then click this link to discover the overwhelm first aid approach with 10 simple steps to calm.
If your energy is ok, then take some time to break the task down into chunks to get that momentum going and schedule some time in your diary.
Sometimes you might put off completing or starting something because you fear it won’t be good enough. This is procrastination with an emotional reason.
First recognise that’s what you are doing. One technique we use is to future pace the imperfection. Annie Stoker, our head coach, is brilliant at this. Basically you think of the worst case scenario of the completion of the task and then keep thinking it through to fruition. Just what is it that you are really afraid of? It’s really important to bring some humour and give it some detailed thought. Remember, nothing is ever really the end of the world!
Are you in analysis paralysis? Wrestling around in the mental inability to make a choice, stuck on the indecision roundabout.
To overcome this try harnessing your Queen energy and just make a decision…any decision! There is no such thing as right or wrong. Just make a decision and begin moving, get the feedback, make another decision, get the feedback and so on.
To sum up when you feel a bit stuck ask yourself…
- Is this task important or unimportant?
- Do I have the energy to do it right now?
- If yes, why am I putting this off? Check through the 6 reasons above.
Very occasionally there is another factor at play. What you thought was important isn’t important to you!
In my experience of life (except when I need to replenish my energy), if I have energy for some tasks, the only time I don’t have energy for important tasks is because they’re not really important. I find the more I live on purpose and the clearer I am about my purpose, I always have energy to do tasks that need doing.
It’s hard to procrastinate when you’re really clear on your big why.
My takeaway message is be kind to yourself.
Can you see that it’s rare you’ll be putting something off just because you don’t want to do it? It’s more often than not one of the other 6 reasons and you now know how to overcome them.
You can explore all of these solutions in more depth in our powerful online program BeFruitful.
Let me know how you’re getting on by leaving a comment below.