3 Ways to Break Procrastination’s Hold Over Us

  • Someday Lesson: Procrastination controls us only when we choose to let it do so.

A Chilling Soul on flickr.comIn the cult of productivity, procrastination tops the list of deadly sins – it’s the Satan of the getting things done world. We search for hacks to avoid putting off tasks, we beat ourselves up for not getting it all done now, and we talk incessantly about just doing it.

We raise procrastination up to the level of insurmountable barrier so that it becomes more of a character flaw than anything we have control over. Just as many people turn their goals into unachievable visions by putting them up on pedestals and worshipping them, an equal number of people (or more!) put procrastination up on a negative pillar and quake under the weight of its gaze.

It’s time to knock procrastination off its life-stalling pillar and take away it’s power to hold us back from achieving our dreams. We can all break the hold procrastination has over us and get on with actually living and doing with three simple steps.

1. Choose something you like to do
This sounds simple, and yet how many people do you know (including yourself) who have a list of tasks an arm long of things they “have to” do? Yes, we don’t have to like everything we do, but if you get up in the morning and dread your day, what kind of life are you living? Really, you’re not living at all. You’re just existing.

Want to bounce out of bed every day? Find something you love to do and pursue the crap out of it. Life’s too short to hate getting up in the morning.

2. Start with something small
Do you worship your goals? Do you create plans and visualize the perfect outcome? Do you gold-plate your dreams then set them up on marble pedestals? If you do, then you probably also sacrifice any significant actions that take you closer to the dream. Don’t worship your goals – simply act on them.

And the easiest way is to start with something small. Right now ask yourself what one thing you could do to take you one micro-step closer to your dream. Don’t think about anything else. And then when you’ve completed that, ask yourself “what next?”

And step by step your dream will become a reality instead of remaining an object of worship.

3. Let yourself be afraid
Fear of failure keeps us from moving forward, but fear of stagnating pushes us from behind. We therefore are trapped between two fears. We all live in fear – it’s hardwired into our bodies.

Therefore, why not embrace your fears? Accept them and use them. Fear failure? Then consider not moving forward the biggest kind of failure in existence as a way to motivate yourself out of your rut. Fear rejection? Then think of the disappointment others and yourself will feel if you never act on your dreams.

Most of us believe that fear is bad and that we should beat, destroy or sneak our way around fear. I say look fear directly in the eye and use its messages to achieve what you want out of life.

Procrastination isn’t a deadly sin and if you do procrastinate you’re not a bad person. But if you want to achieve your dreams, you don’t want to live waiting to get around to things.

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14 thoughts on “3 Ways to Break Procrastination’s Hold Over Us

  1. Good points Alex. I also find that embracing downtime is a productivity-enhancer. You come out of it sharper, lighter & more efficient and get things done in half the time with time to spare, rather than forcing the issue when it feels like drudgery. Of course, it can’t turn into another ‘escape.’

    Pamir | Reiki Help Blog´s last blog post..Healing Resources: Book Review

  2. Bud Hennekes says:

    When we do things we love “procrastination” ceases to exist. 🙂

  3. Andy Hayes says:

    If you take away anything from this article, it is this:

    Want to bounce out of bed every day? Find something you love to do and pursue the crap out of it. Life’s too short to hate getting up in the morning.

    As Alex says… Stop Waiting, Start Living!

    Andy Hayes´s last blog post..Euro-Fabulous Shopping with the Antiques Diva

  4. Those are three GREAT ways to break free from the clutches of procrastination. I’m not a big procrastinator, but there are defintiely certain things I put off doing and I think that following these three tactics will really help me to break free from procrastination!

    Positively Present´s last blog post..love, love, love who you are now

  5. Janet Bailey says:

    Step 1, especially, got me thinking. We have to do some things we don’t enjoy, but if I’m facing a long, long list of tasks I don’t like, something’s off. So the challenge I’m taking away: Re-examine my to-do list and look at the proportion of “love to do’s” vs “have to do’s.” Adjust in favor of the “love to do’s” (or at least “like to do’s”). Bounce!

  6. Tolana says:

    Number 3 positively freezes me in place and has kept me frozen in place, doing nothing, for years. I have such a fear of failure that I don’t try things. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, I have so many ideas in my head, but I can’t sit down and write because I am afraid of it sucking so bad that I will be embarrassed myself to read it. I have thought about going back to school for a PhD — but fear that my MS adviser will no longer want me back keeps me from even asking, along with a fear of not being smart enough.

  7. Kelly says:

    Alex,

    “Let yourself be afraid” has always been my number one procrastination buster… ‘cept when I’m giving in, which does happen at times *sigh.* But boyoboy, like the bad penny that keeps turning up, that reminder is everywhere in my life right now. Glad to see it and your other great tips here.

    I think I’d better do some scary stuff now. Thanks as always.

    Regards,

    Kelly

    Kelly´s last blog post..Inspiration Points: So That’s What’s Up With Her!

  8. Alex Fayle says:

    @Pamir
    I love downtime – I definitely come back totally refreshed and ready to go. I do have to be careful, however, as you say not to let it become an escape because that sort of downtime is so difficult to return from…

    @Bud @Andy
    Although I wrote the post, Writer-Alex disagrees with me on this because I love fiction writing and yet I procrastinate about it all the time. It’s because I love it so much that I turn it into something I worship from afar rather than simply work on.

    @Positively Present
    We all need motivation and inspiration even if we’re highly productive people, which I have no doubt whatsoever you are. 😉

    @Janet
    As an added tip, when you’re look at the “have-to-do” stuff, ask yourself what choice led to the consequence of “have-to” or what goal you want to achieve from it and it might lead you dropping it (if it serves nothing) or getting excited about it (if it’s a step to something you really want).

    @Tolona
    It looks like you might have put your dreams up on a pedestal and now worship them so thoroughly you’ll never be able to achieve them (because mere mortals can never approach the gods). Something like The Artist’s Way might help you bring your writing dream back down to earth.

    @Kelly
    Reading your customer experience audit was one of those motivating scary things! I read it, went back to bed for an hour then got up and used it to push me forward – and just look at the changes!

  9. Kelly says:

    Alex,

    “I read it and went back to bed for an hour” is the funniest endorsement for my services ever! ROFL!

    BTW, while I sometimes think about your advice after I read a post, and often implement it soonish, this time I really did go right out and jump into the scary thing I was wondering about directly after I read this. Opportunities have been popping up in the last month and (sometimes with just the right push 🙂 ) I have been jumping. Feels great.

    And yes, you have been rocking out the improvements. Shocked is the only word I can use for how fast you put the audit to work. Yippee for motivating scary things!

    Until later,

    Kelly

    Kelly´s last blog post..Inspiration Points: So That’s What’s Up With Her!

  10. […] Fayle’s “3 Ways to Break Procrastination’s Hold Over Us“. I am a bit of a procrastinator myself, and there’s one sentence in his post which […]

  11. […] 3 Ways to Break Procrastination’s Hold Over Us – Someday Syndrome In the cult of productivity, procrastination tops the list of deadly sins – it’s the Satan of the getting things done world. We search for hacks to avoid putting off tasks, we beat ourselves up for not getting it all done now, and we talk incessantly about just doing it. […]

  12. If you know what are the things that causes procrastinations your half of the battle is own. If you can find out the real reasons list them, keep them in front of you. If anything like this happens in future you know what your action should be.

  13. Alex Fayle says:

    @Everything Counts
    That’s so true – for example, I know that formatting documents is one way that I procrastinate about real work, so when I start I make myself stop and get back to doing something more productive with my time. 😉

  14. cheryl gowin says:

    Fear of failure keeps us from moving forward, …. and this fear is cumulative .. building an even bigger wall.

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