Overcoming Procrastination: How to Give Yourself Permission to Start Imperfectly
Have you ever found yourself putting off tasks until the last minute, even though you know you should be working on them? If so, you're not alone. Procrastination is a common behavior that can be caused by a variety of factors. Here are five reasons why people procrastinate, along with mindful and effective tips to help you overcome each one.
"Procrastination is the thief of time." - Edward Young
Fear of Failure or Success
Fear of failure or success can be a powerful force that keeps us from taking action. When we're afraid of failing, we may avoid taking action to protect ourselves from disappointment or embarrassment. Similarly, when we're afraid of succeeding, we may procrastinate due to concerns about increased responsibilities or expectations. Here are some tips to help you overcome this fear:
Practice self-compassion: Remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes and that failure is a natural part of the learning process. Be kind and understanding towards yourself, just as you would towards a friend who is struggling.
Break tasks into smaller steps: When tasks seem overwhelming, it can be helpful to break them into smaller, more manageable steps. Focus on completing one step at a time, rather than trying to tackle everything at once.
Visualize success: Spend a few minutes each day visualizing yourself succeeding at the task at hand. Imagine how you'll feel when you've accomplished your goal, and use that feeling as motivation to take action.
Lack of Motivation
When we lack motivation, it can be hard to get started on tasks. This can happen when we don't feel interested in the task at hand or don't see the value in completing it. Here are some tips to help you overcome lack of motivation:
Find your why: Take some time to reflect on why the task is important to you. What benefits will you gain from completing it? How will it help you achieve your larger goals? Use this sense of purpose as motivation to take action.
Create a reward system: Reward yourself for completing tasks by doing something you enjoy. This can be as simple as taking a short break, watching a favorite TV show, or treating yourself to a special snack.
Focus on progress, not perfection: Instead of trying to complete tasks perfectly, focus on making progress. Celebrate small wins along the way and use them as motivation to keep going.
Perfectionism can be a major obstacle to getting things done. When we have a perfectionist mindset, we may procrastinate as a way to avoid making mistakes or falling short of our high standards. Here are some tips to help you overcome perfectionism:
Practice self-acceptance: Remind yourself that no one is perfect, and that it's okay to make mistakes. Focus on progress, rather than perfection, and celebrate your successes along the way.
Set realistic goals: When setting goals, aim for progress rather than perfection. Break larger goals into smaller, more manageable steps, and focus on completing one step at a time.
Take imperfect action: Instead of waiting until everything is perfect, take action now. Remember that it's better to take imperfect action than to do nothing at all.
When we feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks we need to complete, it can be hard to know where to start or how to proceed. This can lead to procrastination as we struggle to figure out what to do first or how to organize our time effectively. Here are some tips to help you overcome overwhelm:
Prioritize tasks: Make a list of all the tasks you need to complete, and prioritize them based on importance and urgency
Break tasks into smaller steps: When tasks seem overwhelming, break them down into smaller, more manageable steps. This can help you feel more in control and reduce stress.
Use a timer: Set a timer for a specific amount of time and work on a task until the timer goes off. This can help you stay focused and avoid getting distracted.
Practice mindfulness: Take a few minutes to practice mindfulness each day. This can help you stay present and focused on the task at hand, rather than worrying about everything else you need to do.
Lack of Structure and Planning
Sometimes, the reason for procrastination is simply a lack of structure and planning. Without clear goals or a plan of action, it's easy to get distracted or feel overwhelmed by the task at hand. If you're not sure where to start, it's natural to put things off until you have a better idea of what to do.
Break down the task into smaller, manageable steps.
Make a to-do list and prioritize tasks based on their importance and urgency.
Use a timer or schedule blocks of time to work on specific tasks.
Create a routine or schedule to establish a consistent work habit.
Consider seeking support from a coach (oh hello: book your FREE discovery call with me) or accountability partner to help you stay on track.
In conclusion, procrastination can be caused by a variety of factors, but by understanding why we procrastinate and implementing mindful and effective strategies, we can overcome this behavior and achieve our goals. Remember to practice self-compassion, focus on progress, and take imperfect action. And most importantly, take action today, because as Walt Disney said, "The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing."
Real life example:
Let me show you what that was like for me.
I had always been interested in using social media to connect with people and share her thoughts and ideas. In particular, I had my eyes set on Instagram, the perfect platform to share pictures and captions that reflect my approach and offerings.
However, I was stuck in perfection paralysis.
I believed that in order to be successful on Instagram, my feed needed to look absolutely perfect. This meant that all the pictures needed to match in color, I needed to alternate between picture and text posts, and most importantly, I needed to plan out my feed for at least a month, if not six months ahead.
The task was simply too big, and my standards and expectations were far too high. I never got started on my Instagram journey because I was overwhelmed by the idea of it all. On top of that I compared myself with ALL the other experts.
But one day, something changed. I woke up and decided,
"Sod it, I just do it."
I realized that my fear of imperfection was holding me back from even starting. I decided to give myself permission to start imperfectly.
And so, I started posting on Instagram. I didn't have a perfectly planned out feed, and my pictures were not always color-matched or alternating between text and picture posts. But I posted anyway.
And do you know what happened? My Instagram grew, slowly but surely. I started connecting with people who resonated with my thoughts and ideas. I began to receive positive feedback from my followers, and I felt more confident in my ability to share my voice.
Fast forward a year later, and I had been posting weekly Mind You Monday short videos consistently for 52 weeks. Sure, they were not perfect, but as I always reminded myself,
"better done, than perfect."
So, dear reader, I ask you: in which area of your life can you give yourself permission to simply START?
Remember, progress is better than perfection, and it's often the first step that's the hardest. Just like myself, you may surprise yourself with what you can achieve once you let go of the fear of imperfection and give yourself permission to start imperfectly.