One of the most common requests I hear from clients is, "Help me get more things done." It seems as if procrastination is a problem for people of all ages – from school age children not doing homework to Baby Boomers not preparing for what they want their "retirement" years to look like.
How motivated are you when you have to do something that is not important to you at the moment and/or does not use any of your strengths? Have you noticed that it is easier to do things that allow you to use your strengths?
According to studies over the last several years, we are at risk of a procrastination epidemic. Seven years ago only twenty-six percent of Americans thought of themselves as chronic procrastinators. Because of the constant increase in change in our lives that number continues to grow.
As you think of your life today, which of the following reasons stop you from getting things done?
Tasks do not utilize your strengths or match your values
You have difficulty believing you can do something successfully
Disorganization and distractions make it harder to start a task and stay focused
Difficulty prioritizing the increasing number of tasks creates feelings of "overwhelm"
The consequences of procrastination affect you physically, emotionally, and financially.
When you delay a task that needs to be done, you increase your stress because you have to keep remembering to do it. This can affect you physically by producing stress hormones that lower your immune function. Can you remember catching a cold after studying hard for tests or completing a big project? Your stress hormones were activated, lowering your resistance to viruses.
In addition, procrastination can cause feelings of guilt that trigger anxiety. It is difficult to concentrate or focus when you are anxious. This means it will take you longer to complete tasks.
Missing deadlines at work may prevent you from getting the raise you wanted or cause you to lose your job. If you miss a financial payment, a penalty fee is charged. For instance, delays in filing taxes can cost people more than $400 a year.
What deadlines have you missed lately?
The good news is you can start to break the habit of procrastinating. It's important to begin by noticing:
- What you say to yourself as you start to think about doing something you need to get done. Do you talk yourself out of it or do you begin to determine what first small step you can take and when you will start.
- Which of your strengths will help you take action. Start to use those strengths when you approach what needs to be done.
- How important is the task or project to you. What is important to you is something you value; it will be meaningful and give you satisfaction when completed. It helps you stay motivated.
- How confident you feel in doing what needs to be done. A secret to building your confidence is to start doing what you are putting off. It makes you feel competent.
- Which advances in technology are decreasing your ability to focus – distracting you. Decide if they are or are not necessary for the project that needs to be done. If not, make those devices a lower priority until more important things are done.
- If you need help learning how to use new technology more efficiently. When you do, seek out help to get through the learning curve.
- What tools, finances, people, and time resources you need. Then make it a priority to get the things you need to begin.
- Where you need to put your focus and energy in a timely way to feel a sense of accomplishment. Then take the steps you need to succeed.
As you learn to identify your values and strengths and how you can apply them to what needs to be done, you will also discover it is easier to prioritize where to begin. Use these same principles to keep you motivated until you reach your goal.
To discover how to enjoy a sense of accomplishment on a daily basis, contact me at my website, www.pattencoaching.com.
Until next time,