How to talk yourself out of procrastination

procrastination productivity Feb 20, 2024

I’m a dreamer, and most of the people I work with who actively create message-based online platforms are dreamers as well. I think it’s fun to be a dreamer, and in many respects, I believe it’s beneficial as well. Some of my best ideas and most creative ideas come to me when I’m daydreaming.

But there’s a downside to our daydreams. They may seem enjoyable and beneficial, but often, they aren’t coupled with action. Some of our best ideas never move beyond the dream stage into the stage of actually getting accomplished.

So how can we move from dream to done?

Or, how can our creativity become activity?

To some extent, this may be a procrastination problem. Maybe you’re a perfectionist who only wants to do something or release something to the public once it’s “perfect”, but deep down you know what you’re creating will never truly be perfect, so you delay releasing it and you let yourself believe that you will eventually get around to perfecting your content eventually. But eventually never comes.

Maybe you’re wrestling with a different problem, the problem of the “people pleaser.” People-pleasers don’t want to disappoint others, so they often find themselves saying “yes” to too many things at once. That results in them having too many things going on at one time which leads to many things remaining undone or not done well.

Procrastination has multiple root causes. These are just a couple that I commonly see. But if you’re struggling with procrastination, and it’s holding you back from actually getting something meaningful done with your online platform, what should you do? Is there a way you might be able to talk yourself out of your procrastinating patterns? I think that’s possible, so allow me to offer a few suggestions that I hope you’ll find helpful.

1. Tell yourself that you’re making your life more complicated than it needs to be. During the course of your day, how many decisions are you responsible for making? Are you trying to manage the demands of a traditional job, parenting responsibilities, and personal goals at the same time? Have you ever considered reducing some of the decisions you’re responsible for through automation and elimination? Let me explain what I mean.

We have more tools for automation than ever before. There are all kinds of automation tools you can use to simplify repeated tasks. Some of those tools can help you manage your content distribution (like scheduling tools). Other tools can take care of simple tasks like paying bills and sending reminders.

While you’re automating, you might also want to do some eliminating at the same time. I suspect there are several things on your daily or weekly schedule that you’ve been doing for a long time and treating like they’re critical even though it may not matter if they get done at all. And if they do need to get done, is it always necessary for you to be the one to do them? Could it be that there might be certain things you’ve been holding onto out of a desire for control that really should be entrusted to someone else?

2. Tell yourself that you’re doing a favor for “future you.” One of my favorite things to do is to make “future me” happy. I often say things like, “If I do this now, 'future me' is going to be very grateful." Essentially, I turn productivity into a game by treating the concept of working ahead like something I get to do to reward myself, not something I have to do like an obligation.

3. Tell yourself you don’t have to get everything done, just the next thing. I find it helpful to make lists. Lists help me prioritize my daily activities. I keep a general list for most days of the week since my schedule doesn’t change drastically from week to week. As I’m working through that list, I mentally block out everything except the next thing I have to do. I don’t let myself worry about #4 when I’m working on #1. Treating my list like something that can gradually get accomplished, one step at a time makes the process of working through it much more enjoyable and significantly less stressful.

4. Tell yourself that it’s OK to declare an amnesty. Be gracious to yourself and offer yourself complete forgiveness from whatever projects remain undone. Maybe that will help you gain some much-needed clarity about whether or not to restart the project or step away from it entirely. I still remember the clarity I received when I took my family on vacation several years ago. I had been juggling multiple projects, but the vacation forced me to take a pause from them. In the midst of that pause, it became very clear to me that I should not resume one of the projects when we returned from our trip. It was a very good decision, but I needed a break from thinking about it in order to gain that kind of clarity. Maybe an amnesty will help you gain clarity about some of the projects you’ve been working on that you often find yourself procrastinating to finish.

I hope these suggestions help. Procrastination can be a real pain, but maybe one of these ideas will help you talk yourself out of it if you’re currently feeling like you’re in a procrastination loop.

© John Stange, 2024

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