Design Your Year: Keeping It Going
Nice work if you are still with me folks and especially this week as we go through Blue Monday — typically seen to be the most depressing day of the year. Oh hooray! It can only get better from now on in — promise.
In this week’s Design Your Year focus we are looking at keeping going those best laid plans you made by beating procrastination over the head with a proverbial very large stick.
You know when you get stuck in a rut and say to yourself “I’ll do it tomorrow” but tomorrow never comes or when you start a task or project but it seems to slide way down the list of priorities.
Why do we procrastinate?
To help us tackle the P-word we need to understand why we do so. Now this is unique to each and every one of us, however, the overriding fact is we are avoiding doing something because we may:
- Not know how to actually do the task?
- Fear the outcome once we do what we need to do. This concern can be a fear of success (“Oh no — now I have to keep on being successful or do better”) and a fear of failure (“I failed at this so I will fail again or at everything else I do”
- Not have any importance attributed to the task due to not knowing who it benefits, not having a set or tight deadline or not seeing any value in doing it.
- Have a fear of change once the task is done.
There will be hundreds more however the first step is to identify why we procrastinate so ask yourself:
What are you procrastinating with when it comes to your 2022 goals?
We all have areas in our lives that we procrastinate in and with. The key here is to identify how this is affecting your goals you have set in this Design Your Year series.
If you have a goal to get a promotion or a different are you putting off a certain meeting with a certain someone? Perhaps your aim is to study for an extra qualification and you are putting it off? Or you just want more balance between your life and work.
However many goals you have this year just choose one to work on. Tackling any more may be too much and we often feel overwhelmed.
Make your choice count here — take on the goal that will make the most difference to your life if you can beat procrastinating with it.
Now it is time to ask:
What are your avoidance strategies when it comes to your goal?
Do you (like me) have a sudden urge to clean your home as soon as someone mentions ‘budget planning’? Or are you opening up ever social media app at 3pm to have a ‘quick’ break and then realising it is dark outside and for some reason it’s 6.30pm?
Start noting these avoidance tendencies down so you can recognise when they rear their ugly heads. Think about removing temptation — take TikTok off of your phone, schedule in time for cleaning/relaxing/reading/watching that box set once you have completed the task.
Clients of mine often find creating their best working environment crucial to keeping them on track so stat to think about:
What is your ideal working environment for your goal?
This will be different for each of your goals so think specifically about each one when you come to them.
For example, if you are routinely avoiding your New Year’s exercise regime think about what will make you do it — new work out clothes, better equipment, at home exercise or classes or a PT or outside or in the gym.
When it is work related do you need some peace & quiet, a well lit room, music?
Make your environment so appealing for that task that you almost want to do it!
Closely aligned to this is:
When are you most productive?
I tend to avoid ‘labels’ as much as possible, however, my circadian rhythm most definitely indicates I am an early-bird. My brain is switched on and raring to go from 5.45am most mornings — my body takes a bit more convincing. And yes it’s annoying at weekends. Very annoying.
Identify when you do your best work — what time of day, what is going on, what is inspiring you, who is helping you — this will all add to your ideal working environment so you will know what to recreate each time procrastination tries to derail you.
Other Tips & Tools
There are loads to be honest folks and when you subscribe to my weekly email you will receive many free tools for procrastination, motivation and all things coaching related
However, here are some quick fix tools to keep in mind to keep you from sorting your sock draw yet again:
- Set a hard yet realistic deadline for when to complete your goal by — don’t set yourself up to fail.
- Reward yourself once you have completed a task towards your goal and increase the reward the more you complete. (I have my eye on a certain jumpsuit from https://www.nancymac.co.uk/ if I stick to my exercise routine for at least 3 months)
- Get help — whether that’s a friend, colleague, partner, mentor or coach to keep you accountable. Tell them about your progress each week.
- Understand what is urgent, what is important and what doesn’t even need to be on your to do list. Expand this to all areas of your life but keep that goal in mind.
- Try the 5 minute rule — set your timer for 5 minutes, start your goal oriented task and really focus for just 5 minutes.
Turn off notifications, put your phone away or on airplane mode, close the door and remove any distractions.
Chances are that after just 5 minutes of deep, focused work or exercise or meditation or whatever you are working on achieving, you will want to do 5 minutes more and then another 5 minutes. If not — at the very least you have made a start.
On a roll? Great — now try the Pomodoro Technique which is another time based strategy to help you get stuck into deep work:
Grab your timer again and set it for 20 minutes this time. Remove all distractions once again and get stuck in.
When your alarm goes off spend 5 minutes doing something completely different — put a wash one, make a cup of tea, stretch. Take yourself out of your deep work environment for those 4 minutes and then return, set your timer to 20 minutes and start back into your deep work.
Repeat this 4 times and on your 4th alarm have a break for 15 minutes. It is incredible how much you can achieve if you say to yourself “I just have 20 minutes to do this”
Sometimes procrastination can help us as it allows us time to really think projects and decisions through giving us time and space to make sure what we are doing is right for us both now and in the long term.
If you are constantly procrastinating despite working through everything suggested here then take some time to consider what you are blocking and why. It may then be time to call in a coach or expert like me to help you remove those blocks.