Okay, let’s be honest here. There’s probably something else you should be doing right now.
You should fix that leaky tap, or kick off your Spanish learning project, or start on that university assignment. You know, the one that’s due tomorrow. At 9:00 am.
Heck, I’ve even been procrastinating on writing this blog post. Pretty ironic, I know.
You’ve probably already tried things like “starting simple,” “breaking it down,” and “keeping yourself accountable” to take down procrastination.
But what you probably don’t know is that many counterintuitive tricks are out there that are even more effective at fighting the problem. So stay with me and procrastinate just a little while longer.
Let’s review seven surprising ways you can break out of procrastination prison.
1. Keep your goals top secret
So you’ve decided to start an exciting new project, something that will truly make your life better, and maybe make other people’s lives better too. Maybe you’re taking on Arabic, learning how to code in Java, or setting up a charity.
What’s the very next thing you want to do after making that decision? You want to tell someone about it.
It seems to make perfect sense. You get to share your excitement with somebody else, and having others in on your plan is sure to keep you accountable, right?
Actually, research has shown that you are less likely to reach your goals if you first broadcast your intentions to other people.
Talking about your goals tricks your brain into thinking that you’ve already accomplished them and reduces the motivation required to actually execute. You get left in a state of procrastination limbo where you feel great about your goals but aren’t actually doing anything about them. The same thing happens when you try visualizing success in your head too.
So keep your goals to yourself, put your head down, and get to it!
2. Don’t make a plan
You’ve probably heard the phrase “fail to plan, plan to fail.”
It sounds very logical. Draw up a nice big roadmap, and it’ll help you navigate your way to success more easily, right? Not quite. Because planning isn’t progress. It’s all too easy to get stuck in the planning stage of a project and never actually get anywhere.
What you want to do instead is simply break into your project. Start somewhere, anywhere.
Pick an entry point and decide on the first task for your project. Break that task down until you have an action you can do right now in under two minutes. Then do it.
When I started learning Mandarin Chinese at the end of last year, I spent ages reading various blog posts, trying to discover the perfect way to learn a language. I’ve actually done this two or three times over the last few years as I’ve started and stopped different language projects.
Even though it might seem like I was making progress and moving toward my goal, I was really just procrastinating by avoiding the important work — actually learning Chinese.
Once I realized this, I stopped and picked whatever method I happened to have on my screen at the time and ran with it.
There is no such thing as a perfect plan. Luckily, you don’t need one. Just find a way in, commit to it, and the rest will follow.
3. Begin your day with something unimportant
A common piece of productivity advice is to start your day with your most important, most urgent, or most difficult task. The rationale is that the rest of your day will feel like a breeze once you get the tough stuff out of the way first. But if you’re anything like me, seeing that big hairy task first up on your to-do list is a little, well, frightening.
So I like to take a different approach.
First, pick off some of the low-hanging fruit from your to-do list. Maybe start by doing some light fiction reading, vacuuming the house, dashing to the bank, and then taking a break by jumping onto Twitter for ten minutes.
At this stage, you’ll feel much more energized and accomplished, and you’ll be able to attack that big scary task with more confidence.
Get some easy wins under your belt first thing. It’ll make the difficult stuff much easier to handle.
4. Focus on having fun first
It’s important to strike a balance in your life where you’re getting stuff done but still having fun. After all:
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.”
Here’s an unconventional way to accomplish this.
First, stick all your leisure and social activities into your to-do list and spread those out throughout your day. Then take a break from the fun stuff by doing some work in the middle. For example, I check in with my favorite YouTube channels as a daily leisure checkpoint that I work around during my day.
This is an exciting way of rethinking productivity. You’re less likely to procrastinate because you know your day contains things you enjoy. In addition, you don’t have to feel guilty about having fun because you’ve carefully structured your day to include both work and play.
You can even take this a little further and try something you might not have done before: start your day off with a quick leisure activity to get you going (maybe a 15-minute walk at sunrise or 15 minutes of video gaming) prior to jumping into something unimportant.
5. Make a weekly escape
One of the most common productivity tips you hear is that you should work a little bit on your goals every day. Now, this is certainly not bad advice. Small, consistent action toward your goals is the best path to success.
But you also want to avoid burnout, something not particularly ideal to have if you’re trying to beat procrastination. Luckily, there’s an easy way to do this that I’m sure you’ll love. Take a day off each week.
Choose one day where you’re allowed to do absolutely nothing (mine is Sunday).
Keep those days as clear as possible, and cut yourself away from your projects. It’ll give you time to recharge your batteries and mentally refresh yourself.
This is the perfect day to sleep in, catch up on that novel you’ve been meaning to read, go on a date with your partner, and watch romantic comedies together after dinner.
You’ll start looking forward to your escape day every week, pushing you to perform better, be more efficient, and procrastinate less during the other six days.
6. Be ruthless with your time and energy
A common cause of procrastination is sheer overwhelm.
Many of us are simply trying to juggle too many balls at once. And the inevitable result is that we’ll drop them all. If you have a lot to do, and you simply can’t motivate yourself to do any of it, that’s a sure-fire sign you’re doing too much.
Set boundaries for your time and energy. Re-evaluate all your commitments, and find out which ones you can eliminate. Then pull the trigger and cancel them. It’s scary, and it’s difficult, but it’s oh so liberating.
Nowadays, it’s almost socially unacceptable to say no. I find this really bizarre.
The result is that we say yes to everything to make everyone else happy, and make ourselves miserable in the process. Stop trying to please everyone. It’s an impossible task. You must make yourself happy too.
Be ruthless and start saying no to time-sucking, energy-sapping commitments, and free yourself for more important things.
7. Forgive yourself
Everyone procrastinates. It’s unavoidable. You’ll have times when you just don’t feel like doing anything. And that’s okay. The worst thing you can do is beat yourself up about it.
Research has shown that people who are kind to themselves after a bout of procrastination are less likely to procrastinate again the next time. I used to be extremely hard on myself when it came to procrastinating.
I’d start the day knowing I needed to do my workout, but I’d keep pushing it off as the day progressed by doing crossword puzzles or watching cat videos instead. I’d get to the end of the day and only start working out at 11:00 pm, or not do it at all. And I’d hate myself for it.
The next day, I’d still feel guilty about it and wouldn’t feel good at all about anything else I was doing. It was a vicious cycle. Take a breath. Let it go. The past is in the past.
Forgive yourself and trust that you’ll do better next time.
It’s time to break free
Procrastination is a difficult problem that everyone faces in their lives. And busting out of procrastination prison isn’t easy.
But think about what happens if you don’t. Think about what happens if you stayed stuck in there forever without making that daring prison escape.
Think about how you’d be feeling a month, a year, five years from now. You’d wish that you’d done the hard yards today so you could be that much closer to your goals tomorrow.
Get out there, get things done, and achieve the things you want to achieve. The world is waiting for you to do amazing things.
Don’t let everyone down. And most importantly, don’t let yourself down.
(Part 2) Conquering the Impossible Space Between Where You Are Now and Where You Want to Be
I wrote a blog post based on a mini-series I did for my Subscribers on the Achieve the Impossible App and have packaged it up in two parts to share here. If you missed Part One, quick click here and have a read over that first before reading any further!
One of the first obstacles we’re going to face on this journey towards risk is one that often strikes a damaging blow to our pride and can sometimes take us to our knees. As you embark on this journey, I can almost guarantee that we will take a wrong turn from time to time, we will read the map wrong (I’ll take the hit, I’m the navigator – sorry!) which will send us off course.
When you’ve taken a wrong turn driving, what is your first thought? DAMN IT. (Yep, me too!) What’s your second thought? Is it ‘ahh, I’ve stuffed up. I’m gonna just pull over and sit here until either the roads and maps magically change in my favor or someone comes to rescue me?’ Or do we think ‘Ok, what’s the quickest way to get back on my path?’
When we stuff up, make a mistake, choose the wrong software, tell the wrong people or say the wrong thing, we don’t just pack up our dreams and hide. NO. We pick ourselves back up. We face the right direction (or what we believe is the right direction) and we MOVE FORWARD.
I don’t care if you start by walking one ginger step at a time, just start! Those small steps gain momentum and eventually lead to a jog, then before you know it, you’re back running!
Mistakes aren’t meant to end us, they are there to redirect us. Anytime you embark on an unknown journey you’re going to make mistakes.How you respond is the only thing I want you to focus on. Respond with reflection, movement and momentum in the direction of your dreams.
On our journey, we’re going to make mistakes and take wrong turns from time to time, but we choose to pick ourselves back up, and get back on that journey! We’re not staying stuck, we’re ‘running to risk’! As we get back on this journey, we’re going to need to make a decision to take action and invest in risk.
Sounds like I’m about to write a message on Warren Buffett’s worst nightmare. But that’s not the risk I’m talking about and it’s not the investing I’m talking about. Sleep tight, Warren. This risk I’m talking about is the thing that stands between you and your dream. The thing that you’ve told yourself is too strong, too powerful and too insurmountable to climb.
It’s often the case that the risk we perceive in our own minds is actually far greater than it truly is in reality. I remember as a child, visiting a museum and being fascinated by a scary looking dinosaur down the other side of the room. It looked ferocious and intimidating from across the room, and as I walked closer and closer, the dinosaur, through the magic of perspective, got bigger and bigger.
That’s where I feel we are at right now on our journey towards risk. We’ve identified the risk standing between us and our dreams, and we’re taking the tentative first steps towards it. As we step closer and closer to risk, it will look bigger. You’ll start to compare the size of it to you, and don’t be surprised if it grows each step you take. But, have faith.
The closer I got to the dinosaur, the bigger it became. I had a choice to let fear or faith determine my next steps. I continued walking step by step towards the prehistoric creature. Then something strange happened.
Yes, the closer I got to the creature, the bigger it became. But then something else came into the picture. The closer I got, the more detail I was noticing. What I thought were bone-crunching teeth were actually a matte white plastic, what I thought was impenetrable skin was old flaking greeny-brown paint. Those eyes that glared at you from across the room, were now nothing but big marble sized spheres of glass.
When we step towards fear, yes it gets bigger – but as we invest in faith and continue to live our lives in the direction of our dreams, we expose the master of risk…FEAR.
Invest in those extra steps this week as you get closer to risk to point out the finer details, you’re going to realise it’s not as scary as it once seemed. Those steps aren’t always going to come easy though, because the journey towards risk is an interesting one.
There’ll be times when you’re pumped full of Adrenalin, bashing down every obstacle that comes your way. There will be times where you’re cruising on a nice downhill slope, enjoying the scenery and wondering why it took you this long to convince yourself to get here!
Then there’ll be times when things aren’t easy. Just like my climb this evening up a little mountain by my home on the Sunshine Coast of Australia. I started out full of energy, pumped for the adventure ahead, then five minutes into the usually very achievable rocky steps, my legs started really feeling it.
“You’ll never know your strength until you’ve faced your struggles.”
The Adrenalin gave way to frustration, to fear and to my quickly draining self-belief in my fitness. I continued one painful step at a time. I wasn’t going the pace I normally would, but knew this mountain could be conquered one slow step at a time.
As I slowly neared the end of the steps, my legs were burning, my heart pounding and my mindset weakening. Two quiet words burst through my pain…
I’m pretty sure I’ve never said this going up the mountain before, but it seemed fitting. As I climbed one step at a time, ‘stay strong’ became my repeated mantra. After the season of pain and intentional mindset building, I reached the summit of the mountain and cruised my way back down.
There is such an incredibly untapped power within our self-belief and mindset, which shapes our self-talk. On your journey towards your risk, I can almost guarantee you’ll be faced with steps that seem too difficult, too challenging, too much to conquer.
Remember…’stay strong’. You’re on this path for a reason – you’re capable of completing it. You’ve come this far, see it through. Your ‘impossible’ dream is counting on you to conquer fear and run to risk!
This blog is based off the mini-series ‘Run to Risk’ first featured on the Achieve the Impossible App, accompanied by downloadable wallpapers and daily inspiring messages to inspire, challenge and equip you to achieve your impossible dream. Download the Achieve the Impossible App and start your free trial today!
(Part 1) Conquering the Impossible Space Between Where You Are Now and Where You Want to Be
Deep down, you know exactly what you are capable of. There’s even moments where you get a glimpse of all the potential you have. You can get there. You just have to be willing to sacrifice the habits, things and situations that are standing in the way of your success. I honestly believe “Running to Risk” has the power to unlock mindsets and belief systems that have been holding you back from your true potential (I’m naturally conservative so it’s big coming from me!)
Before we do something crazy and ‘run to risk’, let’s take stock of where we are today and our foundational beliefs in our potential and true capacity. In the day-to-day act of living, waking up, coffee, breakfast, school drop-offs, work, more coffee, home, homework, dinner, finish off emails, glass or two of (insert drink here), collapse on couch, Netflix etc. We can become disconnected with our true potential and capacity.
You are being pulled from all sides – your family, your boss, your colleagues, your partner, your friends, even your dog. You can be forgiven for prioritising the present over the future.
To set up this series on healthy and personal-capacity fuelled risk, I want you to invest a moment or two searching deep within yourself.
- What’s in your heart for 2019?
- What is one thing you would look back on come 31st Dec 2019 and be proud of your personal accomplishment?
- What’s something that scares you?
- What’s that one thing that has been on the back of your mind that you’d love to put your name to in your lifetime?
The answer to the above is the thing we’re going to focus on in part one of this post. We’re focusing on it because with every achievement that challenges our personal capacity and unlocks our potential, there will be an element of risk.
Risk Is Scary!
Risk stares you in the face from afar and says ‘don’t you dare approach. Don’t even try’. This is when you’re faced with a decision to make, and the best (and also worst!) thing about it is you’re the only one who can make it!
As you make this decision to ‘run to risk’, the regret of not running has to be stronger than your personal comfort. Your comfort must give way to your calling. Your present must give way to your potential.
Think about the one thing on your heart – the thing that helps you step into your calling and potential. The thing with risk looming all over it. Let’s build the strength, self-belief, courage, boldness and tenacity to ‘Run to Risk.’ But what about timing? I’m not sure if I should be pursuing my dream now.
“You can’t always wait for the perfect time. Sometimes, you have to dare to do it because life is too short to wonder what might have been.”
We’re not running to risk for a laugh and a good time, we’re running to risk because that dream in our hearts for 2019 is worth pursuing. When faced with the potential of risk, we often come up with thoughts and reasons to justify our lack of momentum or progress.
I don’t know how!
I don’t have the money!
I don’t have the connections!
But one of the most common excuses I hear (I know, because I hear it from myself) is a little sentence that has killed more dreams and crushed more souls than most. ’It’s not the right time’.
It’s one of the most powerful excuses because it bulldozes every other excuse by default. You’ll always meet more people, money comes and goes, but once time is gone, it’s gone forever. This excuse becomes our default without us even realising it.
I remember when I was wanting to launch a few online courses, a podcast and a book. (These are all my risks for 2019). But they were also my goals for 2017 and 2018. Sadly, I put my insecurities ahead of my identity and my convenience over my calling. Looking back now, each excuse I held to for not launching these projects was based on timing.
First, the IG algorithms were affecting posts, then someone else launched a podcast in my niche and gosh, I couldn’t do that! Next, as I was writing my IG Online Course, another one came on the market. Nope, can’t do that now. I’ll wait until the marketing heat dies down on that one. The exact same situation with my book launch…it just wasn’t quite the right time.
Here’s what I learnt and something I want to share with you, there’s never a right time to do the thing that’s on your heart. The right time will never simply show up, you’ve got the time, now it’s up to you to make it right!
Looking back, I’ve felt the pain of regret and don’t want to let the fear of risk lead to regret again. Now is the time to look risk dead square in the eyes and say ‘ready or not, here I come’. Yeah, the I could start now I guess…I know what I want to do and I kinda believe now is as good of time as any…I’m honestly not sure where to start.
“Never be afraid to try something new, because life gets boring when you stay within the limits of what you already know.”
Now It’s Time!
We’ve just told risk we’re coming for it. We’ve made the decision to put our calling over our comfort and choose to be lead by faith not fear. Now it’s the time to start. We’re starting right now because we have been given the time, and we’ve got complete power and control to make it the ‘right time’. We’ve made the decision to go after that thing that’s on our heart, the thing we’ve always wanted to do, the thing that has been too risky.
Not anymore. Today, we start.
There is huge power in the start. When we start, we have the luxury of being on home ground. We are making more decisions for ourselves, rather than having to make decisions based on responses which we will have to inevitably do down the road.
Today, we start.
We’re filled fresh with enthusiasm, passion and driven by our desire to accomplish something meaningful this year. Yesterday, we may have had a loss to our name, we may have stumbled and fallen…but you’ve picked yourself up.
Today, we start.
We look to the future with our heads held high, the hopes of a brighter future with that dream in our heart knowing that we are valiantly pursuing it despite the risk. We know our dream, we know we are capable of achieving it, we know we’ve got the time and today, we start.
We start the journey as we ‘Run to Risk’.This blog is based off the mini-series ‘Run to Risk’ first featured on the Achieve the Impossible App, accompanied by downloadable wallpapers and daily inspiring messages to inspire, challenge and equip you to achieve your impossible dream. Download the Achieve the Impossible App and start your free trial today!
It’s What You Do On A ‘Bad Day’ That Matters.
Last Friday was a bad day for me. I woke up late, missed the gym and didn’t meditate.
None of this was intentional.
I then turned my computer on to do what I do every day: blog. I was not prepared for the whirlwind that followed.
As I opened up my social media channels, there were a lot more than usual, direct messages. I started reading each one and they were from colleagues and friends who wanted to warn me that I had a large amount of hate-fuelled comments on social media. I’m usually pretty good at dealing with hate comments. Not on that day, though — I was having a ‘bad day.’
I turned off the computer and didn’t respond to anybody. In the same week, I’d been told I was now a LinkedIn Top Voice for 2018.
I should have been celebrating and I didn’t because I didn’t feel worthy. If anything, I wanted to give up there and then. Luckily I didn’t follow through with any of these ideas. I knew it was just noise in my awful day.
I went away to sit on the couch and think about what I’d just read. Without really thinking about what I was going to do for the rest of the day, I began thinking about my team at work. There were several leadership challenges that I had to solve.
One was from a customer that was being abusive to female staff. Another was a rejection I had to deliver to someone that wanted to work with us. The hardest part about delivering the rejection was that I’d already said yes.
Despite the day being bad, I made a fundamental decision — to keep doing what I do and not stop. I said to myself “How can I inspire people while simultaneously solving both these challenges?”
I’m a big believer that it’s not what you say that matters; it’s what you do. Talk is cheap. I came up with a bold plan to address both challenges.
I was going to do something that made me see the good in the people involved.
Even if the people in both situations had let me down, I was going to assume they were still good.
I concocted a plan to help both people and try and show them a more positive way to move forward. If I break down the plan, it was about being an inspiration in both situations.
I didn’t feel like being inspiring.
It was not the day to be inspiring.
But it was the only way I could motivate myself to finish off this bad day and wake up the next morning fresh. It’s funny how a good nights sleep takes away all the pain and negativity from the day before.
So, by the end of the day, I enabled both plans. I set out to release inspiration in both scenarios and that was my only focus. I didn’t look at anymore hate fuelled comments or go near social media.
On that bad day last Friday, my actions helped me keep moving forward and not give up.
It’s not about necessarily seeing the good in your bad day.
I’ve read this sort of advice heaps, but it requires a lot of willpower.
“Using your actions to make the day better rather than trying to think your way out of your bad day seems to be a lot easier to implement”
It’s not about the bad day.
Bad days will happen.
It’s what you do on a bad day that determines if you’ll feel the full effect of all the negativity that can potentially knock you out like a Tsunami that comes your way when all you wanted to do was lay on the beach and soak up some sun.
I’ve learned to find situations during a day that’s not working out well for me, to do something good, and often that’s not something that benefits me. If I was to look at it another way it would be “How do I not focus on my own bad day?”
Trying to make someone else’s day good distracts you from your own bad day.
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