Do you often put things off until the last minute?

Have you ever wondered why you do this and had understanding of how this is serving you?

Often when we put something off, we are procrastinating on something that we don’t want to do. We might see it as boring or we might feel nervous about doing it, or we might believe we don’t have the time or money to do it. Often the things we are putting off are really important and will help us achieve our goals or an outcome that we would really like to experience.

Some people also find it easier to motivate themselves when there is a short deadline. So they leave things until the last minute then fly into action because it’s a challenge and creates a feeling of excitement.

This has in the past been a big pattern of mine. I would put off making a decision or doing something and because of this I would lose many opportunities that I really wanted. I would often breathe a sigh of relief because I felt the decision had been made for me and there was no fear of making a mistake. Or, I was disappointed because I had missed out on something that I wanted to do.

When I entered the coaching world, I learned how to make a decision quickly and then think about how I was going to make it happen afterwards. Since I learned to do this, my life and business has moved forward in leaps and bounds.

Now not all procrastination is unresourceful, sometimes it serves well and that’s an entirely different story. It’s only when we notice it’s holding us back and not giving us results we want that we need to take a closer look at how we can do it better.

Here are some helpful principles that I use for myself:

Focus on the results

When you are offered an opportunity, you are faced with a decision, there is something you feel nervous about doing or you find boring, focus on the results you can get from doing it. When you do this it becomes more of a criteria based decision or action rather than an emotional based one and this makes taking the action or making the decision a lot easier.

Remind yourself of what you stand to lose

If you find yourself putting something off or avoiding making a decision, remind yourself of the opportunity or results you stand to lose by putting it off. Get really clear on the results and outcome that you want and focus on this instead of the action or decision you are avoiding. When you do this you build more pleasure around taking action and the benefits associated with that, than the short term pleasure you are gaining by avoiding it.

Create shorter deadlines

Often when things are left until the last minute you end up stressed or missing the deadline completely. If you have a habit of leaving things until the last minute and then flying into a whirl of panic to get them done, set deadlines that are shorter than the deadline you have been given. When you do this regularly, you will notice that you focus more on the shorter deadline and this means you will reach your targets in plenty of time and with a lot more flow. I use a planner also to keep me on track with this. I plan out each week, prioritising and blocking time and this helps me achieve goals and project deadlines more consistently.

There are never mistakes only learning and feedback

Often when people put off doing something or put off making a decision its because they are afraid of making a mistake or failing. Remind yourself that there is never failure only feedback on how you can do it differently. No decision is a wrong decision because it always leads you to your next step. Every outcome you get is a result and it’s either the result you want or the result that you don’t want. If it’s the result that you want congratulate yourself and look at how you can improve even more. If it’s the result that you don’t want, look at what you can change or do better. Look for the learning. When you look at it this way, you will feel more motivated to take the action.

At the end of the day, this is about you achieving what you want and this is a fabulous time of the year to reflect on your strategies and whether they have been working for you or not. What I have found is that when I use these principles, I get results I want and if I stray into old patterns I end up disappointed and reminding myself of why I’m disappointed.

If you find yourself procrastinating often, give these principles a go. Like me, you may find they bring the results you want.