Do you ever feel shackled by your own brain when it comes to completing your to-do list?
Girl, if this is you…welcome to the club!
The procrastination epidemic is running rampant in our society and it prevents the most skilled people from getting their work done efficiently.
I would find it frustrating that for years that I had SO much I wanted to accomplish…yet I’d always find myself coming up short.
Needless to say, this doesn’t make you feel like a total boss babe.
It makes you feel like a failure and that you’re not committed enough to complete your goals.
The great news is that this is totally natural in terms of how our brains are set up.
On top of that, there’s a number of tricks we can use to rework our brains so we can start overcoming procrastination once and for all!
Procrastination has been heavily studied over the years.
It’s something every person has struggled with, and for many, it remains a complete mystery.
To be quite honest the reason we procrastinate is very simple.
It’s because our brains are the happiest and most comfortable when you are staying right where you are.
It hates growth, change, or anything that feels remotely different.
Your brain seeks pleasure and avoids pain.
That’s the way it’s wired.
Which was great in caveman times! Things were a bit simpler then.
The prehistoric peeps didn’t need to worry about hacking their brains in order to produce the crazy results they wanted in life.
Now, life’s a bit more complicated.
When we try and do anything outside our comfort zone our brain freaks out.
This is due to our primitive brain (the cerebellum) acting out of alignment with our decision-making part of our brain (the prefrontal cortex).
So, you can have the best intentions in the world for success, but your brain will convince you it’s an awful idea.
Therefore, it will strive to keep you stagnant.
Which is the resistance you feel before attempting to complete anything on your to-do list.
That’s how procrastination occurs.
So, how do we beat procrastination – aka our own brains?
Well, the truth is, your primitive brain will always be there.
It will always seek to protect you from the big, scary things in the world (otherwise known as your goals).
However, there are steps we can take to set our brains on the right path so we can get out of our own way and start producing RESULTS!
Here are 15 golden nuggets that will help you…
If you’ve been following my content for a while you know I’m OBSESSED with self-coaching and working to produce the thoughts we WANT.
Never heard of this?
Don’t worry. I’ll fill you in.
In short, our thoughts lead to our feelings, which spur our actions, which produce the results we have in our lives.
Therefore, if you want to change the result (completing a task), then you’ll have to work to change the thoughts you’re having.
It’s amazingly effective to do this self-coaching work.
It will allow you to align your thoughts with the results you want to produce.
I would say that’s pretty worth it.
There’s an amazing quote by Brooke Castillo that states, “Discomfort is the currency to your dreams.”
It’s SO good!
Because it’s beyond true.
You’ll need to learn to embrace discomfort in order to reach your goals and to stop procrastinating.
You’re procrastinating because you’re fearing the discomfort you feel from completing a task.
And at a certain level, it’s not your fault!
This is what your brain wants.
However, you need to understand that indulging in that fear will keep you stagnant.
You will never feel “good enough” to take action. You just have to do it!
Tough love, baby.
A little louder for the people in the back!
But, seriously guys!
Stop making perfectionism sound like a good thing.
Perfectionists overwhelmingly produce less into the world.
Which means they’re not necessarily the most successful people in society.
You have to learn to be comfortable producing B- work.
Don’t obsess over your work being perfect.
Just focus on it being VALUABLE.
This is key.
Alright, this might not sound useful at first…but this tip is pure GOLD.
I first learned this from Brooke Castillo and I just about cried when I heard it.
It’s helped me SO much.
I want you to spend the first 80% of your time getting your work done as fast as you can.
Then, with the remaining 20% of your time correct all the imperfections and tidy up your work.
When you work as quickly as possible to complete your tasks, you don’t have time for chatter inside your brain telling you to stop.
There will be no daydreaming, checking social media, or time to think about what you’d rather be doing instead.
Does completing your work more efficiently right before a deadline ring a bell?
This isn’t because you’re more efficient during this time.
You’re not producing better work close to your deadlines…you’re just working FASTER.
Let me just give an example right off the bat.
Although I’m a relatively clean, Type-A individual, I’m notorious for leaving my clothes in places they shouldn’t be around the house.
Mainly I have a habit of leaving my laundry on this single white chair in my bedroom.
I’ll have every intention of hanging up my clothes AFTER I put them there.
Problem is, I often would forget about them — leaving clothes there for days (sometimes weeks).
Yeah, I know. It’s bad.
When I took the time to really evaluate what was happening, I realized I was absent-mindedly setting the situation up for failure.
I was adding unnecessary steps to the routine.
It made no sense to lay the clothes on the chair BEFORE hanging them up.
I realized it was simply another step I added due to the “avoidance mode” I was in.
Once I started hanging up clothes right away (and going nowhere near that chair) problem solved!
What extra steps are you adding each day that makes meaningless tasks seem long-winded and difficult?
In order to fully destroy a procrastination habit, you’ll need to become an absolute master of time-management.
If you can learn to manage your time properly, you can literally manage ANYTHING life throws at you.
I highly suggest taking 30 minutes to 1 hour a week scheduling your time.
And be sure to schedule EVERYTHING — even your down time!
We all have very different distractors that cause us to lose focus.
The key is being 100% honest with yourself as to what they are.
Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can get through your crazy to-do list with Netflix on in the background.
YOU KNOW BETTER.
Start out with complete silence and zero distractions.
Then add in other factors over time (music, etc.) if you’d like to experiment with how it affects your productivity.
Just be cautious and honest with yourself.
The act of following through with plans you set for yourself is deeply satisfying.
There’s a reason for that.
It’s because you’re establishing TRUST with yourself.
Every time (despite all of the procrastination odds) you choose to follow through with a set plan, you’re boosting your confidence levels!
It also, most importantly, creates a compounding effect where you are more easily able to commit to tasks in the future.
In doing this, you set new expectations for your success.
Learn to group your to-do list tasks based on the level of importance.
Don’t shove everything onto a massive list and expect everything to get done.
It never works out that way.
Section off the tasks you absolutely HAVE to do from the ones that can actually wait and be given less priority.
You’re going to hit roadblocks when it comes to getting $#!@ done and getting through your procrastination hurdles.
I encourage you to not give up and flip tables when this does happen.
Instead, be a problem solver.
It’s like when you’re getting driving directions from your handy iPhone app.
If there’s an unexpected traffic jam, that annoying robotic voice will tell you, “Recalculating!”.
That’s EXACTLY what you have to do.
If you keep recalculating, you WILL reach your end destination eventually — just maybe not in the way you originally intended.
Make sure when you’re creating your to-do lists and goals that the tasks are 100% controllable.
Let me explain what I mean by this.
If you’re working your ass off for a lofty promotion at work, don’t set your #1 goal as “to get a promotion”.
This is not under your control, therefore, there are no clear, actionable steps you can take to ENSURE it will happen.
Instead, make sure your goals are controllable — such as completing extra tasks at work, taking your coworkers out to lunch to boost morale, etc.
Now, by this, I don’t mean wake up every morning and wink at yourself in the mirror.
Unless that’s your thing.
I mean, I want you to view your progress with the same fascination that you would a super-interesting science experiment.
And if science experiments don’t fascinate you, just pretend for a second.
SO MUCH of success is experimentation.
You’ll only figure out what works and what doesn’t over time.
You won’t magically have the secret formula right from the get-go.
Instead of this being a discouraging factor, see this as a fun challenge!
Become invested in the process of “cracking the code” that is your productivity.
I find that if I sit in one spot too long, not only do I become way less productive, but I also start to go a little crazy!
Find a handful of go-to spots where you feel the most productive and switch between them.
For instance, my most productive surroundings are my desk at home, the local coffee shop, and a relaxing spot to work at the beach.
When you first get started you’re going to want to establish some trust with yourself that you’re capable of completing larger tasks.
It’s like if your sloth-like friend who binge watches Netflix all day says to you, “I’m going to go hike Mount Everest!”.
You’d be like, “Yeah okay sure Becca”.
The way you view yourself is no different.
So, start out with super small tasks that you can’t possibly fail at.
This is called establishing a “minimum baseline”, which is the least amount of anything you’re willing to do.
Prove you can commit to the least amount before you raise your minimum baseline.
It gives you a healthy mindset from the start that you’re going to crush the tasks you set for yourself.
While having some helpful tips in your arsenal is going to work wonders, this only takes you so far without educating yourself first.
Procrastination is a widely studied phenomenon of the human experience.
If we can understand WHY we do it, we can understand the best strategies to tackle it.
These are some of my favorite books that I recommend:
It is my hope that these simple tips will help you overcome the heavy burden that is dealing with procrastination!
I know all too well about being caught in a never-ending downward spiral “not getting things done”.
It can make you feel trapped, anxiety-ridden, and ultimately downright AWFUL about yourself.
But there is a way out of this vicious cycle.
With the right mindset, a proper plan, and the helpful tips listed above — you WILL be successful.
Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified health coach for women who believes that eating healthy should feel simple and sustainable. I teach hundreds of high-performing women to change their eating habits without the overwhelm. Want to change your eating habits in a way that is aligned with your needs, preferences, and goals? You’re in the right place. You can read my full story here.