Having motivation for some things while delaying others interests me. It took me a while to figure out what I would jump on getting ahead of and what things I would leave to the last minute. I finally realized that I thrive under pressure and I can get a lot done extremely quickly. I like to feel like I’m running a marathon without the finish line in sight and I’m racing to win. So I tend to cram a lot of things into tight timeframes. I like to work through things in a timeframe that would cause others a lot of stress. Super short work deadlines and not enough time, no problem. I’ll get it done.
But when I have lots of time, like with shopping for birthday or Christmas presents – nope. Unless I’m making the gift, I’ll wait until the last minute. I’ve gone Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve more than once. I’ve bought birthday presents the day of a party. I put a lot of upfront thought into gifts, but the physical act of getting it is last minute. Maybe that’s why I shop online so much!
If most people think about it, there is something that they tend not to want to do and leave it behind to get to other things. You might grab a coffee first, or you’re too tired, so you’ll workout later…the list is endless.
People procrastinate for many reasons. Regardless of why you put things off, there are ways to get moving.
Here are some reasons for procrastination and ways to avoid them.
You’re about to tackle something large and complicated, and you don’t know where to begin. If it’s at work, you spend hours going through information, but you can’t seem to start. Time passes, and you get more nervous about finishing on time. At home, you decide to reorganize your living space (or for me, my closet, which I will never get to at this point!) but there’s too much nostalgia attached to pieces, and you don’t know what to get rid of and where to place things.
Solution: Break it down
At the start of a huge project, break it into smaller parts. Set a long-range goal for completing it and divide the work into manageable sections.
Issue: Fear of risk-taking
At work, you’re asked to take on new responsibilities in sales to backfill until they can hire someone.
You’ve never done it before, and you don’t know how to develop new clients. While you’re flattered by your manager’s confidence in you, you’re afraid to make mistakes. The work sits there while you decide what to do next.
Solution: Learn to enjoy risk
Taking risks helps you learn. Most successful people face new possibilities knowing they’ll make mistakes. But they also know that they’ll gain valuable information along the way. Look at your fear of failure. The negative consequences of not getting it done are far greater than the dangers.
Issue: Lack of priorities
We live in a world where everything seems to be urgent. Family members and friends at some point need you urgently (and the same goes for you with them as well) and sometimes it happens all at once. Or at work, everything you’re handed to do is marked urgent. You try to get everything done and help as many people in your personal life as you can, but you never seem to accomplish anything.
Your motivation and confidence lower because you can’t get some of them done.
Solution: Learn how to prioritize
Make a list of everything you need to get done. Choose your priorities using the ABC method. Put each item on your list in one of the following categories:
- Priority A: Must-Do
- Priority B: Should-Do
- Priority C: Nice-to-Do
When you’re doing this, ask yourself why you’re doing it and how it relates to your goals and objectives. Consider the urgency of the request (including family and friends). Ask yourself if you are the person that needs to do it, or if it can be done by someone else.
You have a new idea of something you want to start, for example, a blog. You start writing out what you want to do but keep changing it until it’s just right. But time’s gone by, and your standards are keeping you from either starting it or finishing setting it up.
Solution: Focus on completing it
It’s important to have high standards, but perfectionism can stop you. Consider the importance of what you’re doing and let the purpose determine how much time to spend. Focus on completing the work. If you finish early, you can go back and fix some of the things you want to be better.
The goal and motivator approach to procrastination
When something you’re doing starts falling through, you may need some extra motivation to finish. Sometimes it takes a goal and motivator to overcome procrastination and get the job done.
For many, rewards work better than penalties. For others, the trick for motivation is if there is a negative result from not doing something. Look at the following list of goals and motivators and add some of your own. Then, choose the ones that work best for you.
- A thank you when you finish something
- Small gifts to yourself when you complete sections of something big
- Taking time off when you’ve finished
- Firm deadlines
- Making regular progress reports to someone else
What motivates you in your work, school or personal life? Give each of these a number from most powerful motivator to the least:
- family needs
- mental health
- physical health
- money and possessions
- personal achievements
- fear of failure
- financial pressure
- other people’s expectations
- getting even with others
- envy or jealousy
What were your top five motivators? What do they tell you about what’s important to you?
Some of these are considered negative motivators (such as boredom, envy, living up to others’ expectations or doing things solely for possessions) If you ranked several of these among your top five motivators consider working towards replacing them with more positive ones. For example, the positive motivator for boredom is enjoyment. Read my post Rewrite your script to think more positively for tips.
Sometimes negative motivators mean you might need a change in your life. What changes can you think of that would help you turn your negative motivators into positive ones?
If you’re having trouble kicking your motivation up or getting more positive motivators, try speaking to a health care professional.
These are some of my tips. Do you have any ways to kick motivation into high gear?