Procrastination is actually the antithesis of productivity. I recently asked in my Unstoppable Action Taking Entrepreneurs, Facebook Group, if the women in there got more done, when they felt like they had plenty of time or when they had a looming deadline. The majority stated they needed a deadline for pressure.
This idea is pervasive. We have this idea that if we put things off until they’re due, then the pressure of the deadline is what is going to motivate us to get it done so we can do the thing most efficiently. I’m using air quotes, by the way, around efficiently.
Procrastination is the antithesis of productivity, because what we think is efficiency is really just surface level. What actually happens is it takes more time, energy, cognitive, bandwidth, and space. Procrastination is depleting your brain power.
So if you’re onboard, if you’re ready to overcome this leaning on procrastination, this trap of procrastination, this episode is for you. I’m going to go over some ways that you can sidestep procrastination and just do the damn thing. Ready? Good, let’s go.
- Episode 5: The Real Fear That Is Holding You Back From a Successful Business
- Episode 11: The Mindset of a Productivity Powerhouse
- DM me on Instagram
- The mindset shift you need to help you to overcome procrastination
- The tool that will allow you to get started so that you can continue to keep going
- How creating a morning routine can impact and improve your productivity
- Why breaking down your to-dos will help you achieve more of them
- How to hold yourself accountable
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Procrastination is actually the antithesis of productivity.
When I asked in my Unstoppable Action-Taking Entrepreneurs FB group if these women get more done when they feel like they have plenty of time or when they have a looming deadline.
The majority stated they needed a deadline for pressure.
This idea is pervasive. Last year, we visited my in-laws.
My husband’s step-sister is 16 and she is one of those brilliant students: all-state for choir, color guard or winter guard, all the AP classes, very social.
We were there right about the time school was getting ready to start and she had some reading that she was supposed to do over the summer.
Rather than starting on it in late July, she took the time to plan out how late she could possibly start it in order to get it done before the deadline.
We all do this. Something isn’t due immediately, so we put it off because it’s not urgent.
But what ends up happening for us and what ended up happening for my sister-in-law was she carried that task around whether she was conscious of it or not.
She carried that around in her brain for three or four weeks before she actually got started on it.
It was taking up space in her head.
Plus it also caused some tension between her and her dad.
Her dad was very critical of her procrastination, so that caused some undue stress there as well.
So why do I tell you this story?
We have this idea that if we put things off until they’re due, then the pressure of the deadline is what is going to motivate us to get it done, so we can do the thing most efficiently.
But what actually happens is we use so much cognitive bandwidth and energy, not only reverse engineering the schedule of “when do I actually need to start on this to get it done just in time,” but in the stress and tension of remembering it needed to be done, trying not to forget it, and dealing with others opinions of procrastination.
That is why procrastination is the antithesis of productivity, because what we think is efficiency is really just surface level. What actually happens is it takes more time, energy, cognitive bandwidth, and space than if we had just got it done and off our plate to begin with.
So, what is procrastination really?
Procrastination is pure fear.
You might be saying to yourself, “I don’t know about that. It’s just me wanting to get stuff done efficiently.”
But I already busted that myth with my story above and I will continue to bust it as we move forward.
If you think about it, procrastination is the manifestation of fear, fear of showing up, of taking action, of what the possible outcomes could be, and even of your own power.
Have you ever not done something because you were afraid that you were going to succeed? And how that success would change your life? Check out Episode 005 for more on this fear and how to sidestep it.
We as humans push against change, whether it’s good or bad, because it’s unknown.
Procrastination can be sneaky and show up in ways you may not expect.
Have you ever told yourself that you’re too busy to start on that major project because you’ve got research to do or planning to do or housework to do?
Procrasti-researching, procrasti-planning, procrasti-cleaning, procrasti-organizing— those are all real things.
Sure, there is a time and place for planning and organizing and research.
And there’s a certain time when it becomes a crutch and an excuse to keep you from moving forward.
But you tell yourself “I’m being productive because I’m doing something.” But that is just BS.
The definition of productivity isn’t doing more; it’s doing more of the right things. I go more into the mindset behind productivity in Ep 011 if you want to check out that episode next.
You know what else is a form of procrastination? Perfectionism.
Have you ever said to someone else, “I’m such a perfectionist.” Yea, perfectionism is BS, too. (you’re welcome)
We like to think that we all have really high standards of doing things and that’s why we never put things out in the world.
But perfectionism isn’t about high standards.
In reality, perfectionism is a socially-acceptable excuse that you’re leaning on so you don’t have to move forward and take messy, imperfect action.
Another way that procrastination shows up is analysis paralysis or the inability to make a decision.
You refuse to make a decision because there are too many choices and you don’t want to choose wrong, so you put it off.
Procrastination shows up as comparison, comparing where you are with somebody else or even comparing where you are today with where you were five years ago.
Comparison is a way that we start to look for excuses why we don’t have to do the thing.
Procrastination is pervasive. It’s one of those things that we have made excuses for, that we’ve created these stories about.
But let me set the record straight.
Procrastination is giving you stress.
Procrastination is depleting your brain power.
Are you ready to overcome the trap of procrastination?
How do you avoid it? How do you stop doing it now and in the future?
Here are some ways that you can sidestep procrastination and just do the damn thing.
- The first is your mindset. If you just groaned, I am definitely speaking to you. Mindset matters!
If in your mind you have the idea that procrastination is a tool rather than something to sidestep or a trap that you are potentially going to fall in, then why would you want to change it?
When you are procrastinating, ask yourself what you are resisting.
You have to dig deep. You have to understand what the resistance is and why.
That requires a heck of a lot of self-awareness, but it’s something that you can do asking yourself that question, whenever you feel yourself starting to put things off.
- The second is to just start. I’ll be real, that’s one of the hardest things to do.
An object at rest, stays at rest.
An object in motion, stays in motion.
So once we actually get started, then continuing to keep that ball rolling is easier than if we stop, start, stop, start, stop, start.
Because every single time you get started, it requires more energy.
So how do you just start? Well, there’s a couple of different ways to do this. The first one is the beautiful 5-second Rule from Mel Robbins.
If you don’t know the 5-second rule, I’ll give it to you short and sweet:
Take something you need to do but may not want to do, for example, getting up in the morning. Your alarm goes off. You’re laying there. You start to tell yourself ”I’m so tired.” And think about getting up.
Instead, we just short circuit your logical brain. And you talk directly to your animal brain. You say 5-4-3-2-1 and then do the thing. You don’t give yourself the opportunity to talk yourself out of it. You are taking the option of NOT doing it off the table. It’s not a choice.
Another way to get started is to start early.
You may have heard me talk a lot about morning routines.
I’m not saying you have to get up and do a specific order of things.
What I am saying is that your willpower, your discipline, your ability to make good decisions aligned with your goals is the highest right after you’ve rested.
It starts to decrease as you go through the day.
So if you want to give the best possible chance of doing the thing, start early.
- Another way to sidestep procrastination is to break it down. You need to make it bite-sized.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Don’t try to sit down and write a blog post all at once.
Break it down into easily achievable parts.
Then that will make starting much easier. You can start with a smaller task that only takes 5 minutes and once you’ve done that you are already on a roll, so you tackle the next thing.
- The final thing is to take back control. Maybe you fall into the group that feels they need the pressure of an externally imposed deadline in order to motivate you to do the thing. But you are putting control of your tasks into someone else’s hands.
You are shirking the responsibility of your motivation. I hear many entrepreneurs saying “I have no control over my circumstances, my situation isn’t perfect.” and basically living in this victim mentality.
But I know it’s not serving them. I know it’s not serving you.
You’re in complete control of your life. There is nothing in your life right now that you haven’t allowed to be there.
So if we know we need that accountability of a deadline, how do we take control of that?
Well, you hold yourself accountable. That is how you break out of this idea of, “I need an externally-imposed deadline in order to be productive.”
Because as entrepreneurs, you’re responsible for your own output, you’re responsible for what you produce.
So how do you do this? Well, you start setting self-imposed deadlines.
You don’t break promises to yourself.
You put it on the schedule and you do it.
And if something comes up that knocks you off that schedule, you have a contingency plan and you reschedule it immediately.
You don’t let it go.
You take responsibility for your tasks because in the end, if it’s important and it’s a priority to you, you’ll do it.
If not, you’ll make excuses, like I don’t have control.
If you implement those four things, your productivity will skyrocket.
Procrastination is pervasive. You’re an entrepreneur. You have all this freedom.
It’s up to you to create structure for you, which means taking responsibility for the tasks and to-do’s that you actually have on your list.
And quit putting it off! Take action.
I always like to end each episode with an action step that you can take right now to help you move forward and begin to implement immediately. Here is your action step for this episode: Identify one thing you’ve been procrastinating on. What is it about that task that has caused you to not work on it? Be honest with yourself. And then create your plan for how you’ll stop procrastinating and actually move forward.