How to stop putting things off in your life

Are you someone who put's things off to the last minute? Do you thrive on the pressure to meet a deadline or is it that you've just run out of time and it's all a rush towards the finishing line?

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One of the biggest traits that all human beings have mastered is the art of procrastination.

Procrastination is not something we are born with, it’s a something we learn and can often stem from our childhood of being told what to do and when to do it.  It becomes a form of rebellion and as we start to perfect the art of procrastination, it becomes a difficult habit to break.  We have to want to make the change. 

I for one, speak fluently in this particular subject, so this particular post became a fact finding on how and why we procrastinate, along with my 3 steps that I continue to apply in my life today to ensure I get tasks and activities completed without creating stress on my wellbeing. 

Looking back over the years, school homework is where it all started for me.  Those years leading up to my GCSE exams, and making sure my homework was complete and handed in on time to avoid a bad grade or detention.  After school I got rebellious and didn’t want to conform to homework anymore, this resulted in me dropping out of college.

Stepping into full-time employment, I found something that held my interest and it didn’t seem too much of a great challenge to get a task done or study for an exam on my work topic. What I did notice though, is that when I was super busy I was all over things.  The saying “Want something done? Give it to a busy person” really strikes a chord with me, because not only do they get it done, but they have no time to procrastinate!

Procrastination happens across all areas of our life to confirming appointments late, getting a birthday card or gift for someone right up to the last minute, paying a bill on time, to the big stuff of making real big changes in our life.

I’ve discovered that my procrastination stems from boredom. 

Things start to fall in your way, so you put off the task in hand and find other interesting things to fill your time.  Could be sorting out your wardrobe, giving the kitchen a deep clean or perhaps you’re more taken towards the YouTube or social media rabbit hole, where you watch video after video or it’s real urgency to find out how a celebrities relationship has changed.  Can you relate to this?

My personal experience has found that when I finally get round to the thing I put off the most, it doesn’t actually feel that bad and can often feel quite rewarding.

So why do we delay or put something off?  

Looking into this in more detail, I discovered there are several different types of procrastinators.  

The first is the thrill-seeker, who thrives on the pressure to get that adrenaline rush of leaving something to the last minute.  

The second is the avoiders of fear of failure or fear of success, so will decide not to carry out something if they have a limited belief in their ability.  

Last but by no means least, the indecisive procrastinator who is someone that cannot make a decision.  So by not doing something, it takes away the worry of having to make a decision.

This all contributes to self-sabotaging and the ability to make a difference in our own lives and possibly others.

I quickly I learnt that I couldn’t go on like this.  I couldn’t leave things to the last minute, it would catch up with me and I would become an anxious wreck on a monthly basis! 

So in order for me to take control of my own life and to get things done and make things happen, I followed these 3 steps that provided a full-proof way to meeting my deadlines and being able to sleep easy at night.

  1.  Make a plan and stick to it;  Would seem like an obvious one, but when you feel overwhelmed about a particular task it can be the last thing you want to do.  Writing little actions to complete each day leading up to the completed day, can help to ease that anxious feeling and a picture starts to form nicely of the end goal.
  2. Eliminate distractions; Find out what your distractions are and eliminate them, so you can get on with the task in hand.  If it’s technology then hide it away, if its house-chores get out of the house to focus on your task. Perhaps a venture out into nature, or sitting by a river or being beside the sea might help.
  3. Celebrate the wins; Besides the obvious of getting the task completed, be sure to celebrate your win.  This is an achievement on your part in making this happen and needs to be recognised.  It doesn’t have to be anything expensive or lavish, but a celebration that demonstrates what can be achieved when procrastination does not take over.

To break the procrastination habit, we have to make that conscious effort to want to make that change.  A change in our mindset, resulting in a change in our actions.

Josie Copsey

Life Change Expert, Author, Mentor, Josie Copsey Ltd

Career changes, figuring out the perfect job, building incredible leaders and wellbeing are my jam. But before all of this, there was a corporate girl who had to go through quite a few setbacks, lessons and experiences. Ambitious, driven and focused I built a very successful change and training career that spanned over two decades. Helping leadership teams of large companies to transform their business. But back in 2013 I had enough. I was lost and didn’t recognise who I was anymore. A combination of being professionally bullied, suffering with burnout from working 12-hour days and zero personal life had done me in. My corporate work life had taken over me, I was selling my soul to a job and my health was suffering as a result. I took action and quit the job. Getting clear on my career was the ultimate light-bulb moment for me. But, there had been no definitive path in how I go about making this career change happen; all I knew was what I wanted to do and my determination and focus guided me through. I’m a gal who loves to plan and organise – a couple of my superpowers – so I documented every step and action I took knowing that one day, this would help others just like me. Those who have an idea on what they want to do, but unsure how to make it happen. Those who feel lost and hate their job, but don’t know what to do. Those who are stuck and looking for direction. I teach what I’ve done personally to build a career doing what I love and living the life I want. I’m all about taking action; you tell me what you want and I’ll show you how to make it happen. It is absolutely possible and achievable to be in a job you love; a job that brings you purpose and job satisfaction. You’re here for a reason. Your talents, your heart, your passion – you are one of a kind.