Have you ever had something on your to-do list where you think “yeah I’ll get to that tomorrow” and then months later it’s STILL on your list?
Or have you had a deadline for a report or proposal that’s weeks ahead but you find yourself putting it off until the last minute and having to cram like a maniac to get it done just in time?
Turns out we’re not alone.
Science has a lot to say for why we procrastinate…
Our limbic system, which is the oldest most dominant portion of our brain which runs on automatic, is designed to help us stay away from danger and from unpleasant tasks.
According to Timothy A. Pychyl, Ph.D.. author of The Procrastinator’s Digest: A Concise Guide To Solving The Procrastination Puzzle, your limbic brain will guide you towards “immediate mood” repair i.e. doing something that feels good.
If you want to get into action then you’ve got to engage the conscious part of your brain (the pre-frontal cortex) because if you don’t the limbic system takes over. Cue: another episode of Billions or Game of Thrones.
So how you do work with your brain and stop procrastinating so you can actually make those career goals and dreams happen?
I’ve got 3 tips to help get you started so that you can stop procrastinating on the things that matter.
Take control back and work with your brain to make those career goals of yours happen.
#1: Get clear on WHY your goals matter
Let’s face it, sometimes you’ve got to do the stuff you don’t like in order to get to the stuff you do like.
For example, running a business requires me to look at admin, book-keeping and technology – things that I don’t exactly love. So guess what happens? I put off looking at the stuff until I absolutely have to.
BUT when I remind myself that being proficient and getting comfortable with these areas of my business are essential to its success I feel more inspired to just bite the bullet and get to work.
#2: Stop blaming time
I know I’m guilty of saying I wish there was more time or there’s too much to do but the truth is. Everyone gets 24 hours in a day. The real reason I don’t get things done is because of me, not time.
The sooner I come to peace with this, the sooner I quit whining and do what’s within my control.
#3: Break your big goals down into small micro-steps and schedule them in your diary
I know you may have heard this before but how many of us actually do this?
When you break down a goal by the steps needed to see it through to completion and put it in your diary, then you can get into reality about the time taken to get it done properly.
For example: if you have a goal to switch jobs in 6 months, chances are you’ll be daunted by the amount of effort and work that’s required to make it happen.
Rather than keep “change jobs” on your to-do list, break it up into all the micro-steps that are needed to make it happen e.g. research industry, research dream companies, network, brush up CV, apply, practice interview sessions etc. You get the picture.
Whilst we’re all hardwired to “feel good.”
Our brain doesn’t know that stretching outside of our comfort zone, taking risks and making things happen in our lives is for our own good.
It takes some training!
So: practice the above 3 steps and let me know how you go.
Do you have any tips or tricks for beating procrastination? I’d love to know.
Leave a comment below.
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