When people join Personal Growth Lab, I usually ask them what the number 1 thing is that’s holding them back from achieving their goals – and most answer that question with 1 word: Procrastination.
Procrastination is truly the killer of your goals and dreams. It’s why many ambitious and positive people still aren’t at the levels they thought they would be by now. I suffered a lot from procrastination for many years myself. I had set all these awesome goals for myself and I had a vision of how my life would be. But as the months and years passed, I’d still be stuck in the same old place. All because I was procrastinating so much.
But I knew I wasn’t lazy, that wasn’t the problem. I knew it was something different. One day I found the answer in Brian Tracy’s awesome productivity book ‘Eat That Frog’: I was lacking clarity, and therefore I was procrastinating.
And it was my own mistake that I didn’t create enough clarity for myself in order to perform at the highest levels.
What Happens When You Lack Clarity?
If you’re procrastinating too much, creating clarity might very well be the solution to fix it. Because for most people, it’s not a ‘laziness’ problem (although they might think it is). For most people, it’s an issue of not having enough clarity.
Because when you lack clarity about what you’re trying to achieve, how you’re supposed to achieve it, why you want to achieve it in the first place and what your priorities are, you’ll procrastinate.
As soon as any of these factors are unclear, your mind will start telling you that it’s too difficult, too uncomfortable and it’ll cost too much energy to figure it all out, so it’ll start convincing you to do something easier, like watching Netflix.
But luckily, it’s quite easy to create clarity. In fact, I use 5 High-Performance Strategies (almost on a daily basis) in order to create the exact clarity I need to stop procrastinating and to always get my important tasks done.
Strategy 1: Improve Your Skills
The primary reason why people procrastinate is that they lack clarity about how to complete the task at hand. They don’t know precisely how to successfully do what they’re supposed to be doing – and that creates fear and frustration.
For example, when I first started making courses on Udemy, I procrastinated SO much. Why? Because it was a new experience for me and I didn’t know exactly how to do everything of high quality. I wasn’t familiar with standing in front of a camera, editing the videos and writing the sales copy etc. I lacked the clarity on how to do all of these things of high quality – and that felt uncomfortable. In such cases, it’s much easier (and more fun) to procrastinate by playing another game of Fifa or Battlefield on my Playstation.
But nowadays, after gaining more experience and improving my skills, I feel comfortable around these tasks and I have the clarity on how to complete them successfully. In essence, I’ve created more clarity about the ‘how’ and therefore I don’t find myself procrastinating anymore.
So, resolve to work on improving your skills on a daily basis. Get more experience under your belt so that you know exactly how to perform your tasks of high quality. Practice, read books and follow courses around the specific topics and you’ll become better and better.
Remember, there’s no such thing as failure, only growth. Become a master of your craft and you’ll find it much easier to tackle your tasks without procrastinating.
Strategy 2: Set Goals On A Daily Basis
Another reason why so many people procrastinate is that they don’t know what to do right now, this day. They might know that they want to earn more money, lose weight or build a business, but those are all goals somewhere in the future. And procrastination kicks in, despite these goals, when you don’t know exactly what it is that you’re supposed to be doing today. In other words, when you lack clarity.
Because if you lack clarity about what it is you should be doing today, your mind will start making other plans. Easier plans. Less important plans. Plans that might be pleasurable and rewarding in the short-term, but not in the long-term.
Therefore, always set daily goals. This way, you’ll gain the clarity of knowing what it is that you should be doing today. When you’ve created this type of clarity, it’ll be much more difficult for procrastination to kick in and you’ll find yourself being a lot more motivated to start working.
So, at the beginning of your day (or on the night before), write down a list of 1-5 goals that you want to achieve during this day. Make sure these goals are very specific and that they’re in line with the bigger goals you want to achieve this year.
Bonus Tip: Write Down Your ‘Why’
Why do you want to achieve this goal? How will it make your life better? How will it improve your business/wealth/health? Writing down (and reading) your why creates clarity about why you want to do this and why you don’t want to procrastinate.
Strategy 3: Identify Your Priorities
One of the most sneaky ways to procrastinate is by falling into the trap of ‘productive procrastination’. I, among millions of others, fell in this trap many times. In fact, I think it’s one of the biggest productivity traps people fall into every single day.
Productive procrastination happens when you lack clarity about your priorities. You think you’re being productive, while in reality, you aren’t really that productive at all. This happens when you’ve made a to-do list filled with tasks that aren’t really that important or valuable at all.
Examples could be cleaning your house, making a few phone calls, sending some e-mails, reading articles like this one or making a social media post. Yes, you completed some tasks that might have added some value to your life or business, but was it the most useful way to spend your time? Could you’ve spent your time on higher value activities? Could it be that you procrastinated on your priorities?
These are all valid questions to ask yourself, and the truth can be painful at times (but necessary). I’ve experienced this myself many times, where I felt really productive about a day’s work. But when I stood still and thought about what I actually accomplished that day and what value I actually added to my life or business, I’d be shocked. I fell into the trap of productive procrastination.
Therefore, always rank your daily goals based on their priority & importance and do the same for the tasks on your to-do list. Make sure you ALWAYS tackle your highest priorities first and resolve to never procrastinate on these tasks.
Strategy 4: Schedule Your Day
As you set your daily goals and make your to-do list, immediately schedule each task in your calendar. Make a solid plan for your day. Write down at what time you’ll start working on what task and follow this plan very strictly.
This way, you create a lot of clarity about your workday. You know exactly what it is you need to be working on and when you need to start working on it. Procrastination doesn’t like this clarity 😉
The problems for most people is that they have no solid plan. They don’t know exactly how their workday is going to look like. And when you don’t have a plan, you’ll fall prey to distractions and procrastination.
Therefore, always schedule your workday in advance so that you’ll have a solid plan to execute. Or, as I do, schedule your entire week in advance to gain the ultimate clarity.
Schedule your priorities at the beginning of your day, so you’ll never procrastinate on them again and you’ll make consistent progress on your highest value activities. This is the key to high productivity and achieving your goals.
Strategy 5: Chunk Your Big Goals and Projects
Let’s say you have an intimidating goal or project such as starting a business, launching a new product or losing a lot of weight. In the beginning, this project seems almost like a mountain you can’t climb. There are so many things to do and so many moving parts involved with accomplishing this project that it’s simply too overwhelming.
What happens in such cases? Right, you’ll start to procrastinate. Because it’s much easier, less frustrating and less intimidating to procrastinate. Luckily, I’ve developed an awesome solution to fight this overwhelm and lack of clarity quite easily: Chunking.
Chunking is essentially the process of breaking down a large goal or project into many different, bite-sized, tasks. This way, it’s no longer this intimidating mountain you need to climb, but you’re simply focussed on taking the very next step (again and again).
So, write down all the tasks that you can think of that are necessary to accomplish your goal at this point in time. Remember, you can always add more tasks on the go as you come up with them. But just focus on what you can come up with right now. The list you’ve now created is what I like to call your ‘Masterlist’.
Instead of feeling overwhelmed by your big project or goal, you’re going to take a look at your ‘Masterlist’, where you can find all the bite-sized tasks that you’ve identified so far. Simply pick a few tasks of this last and start tackling them one by one. Each time you complete a task, cross it off your list and pick out the next task.
This way, you create the clarity on what exact tasks to work on and you start to get motivated about your progress. This’ll keep procrastination on the low for a while 😉
Now Do It
I hope that this article will help you stop procrastinating and that you’ll start using some of these strategies on a daily basis. They work great for me – and I truly believe they’ll work great for you too.
So, as an action point for this article: Pick out at least 3 of these strategies and apply them in your very next working day! And let me know about your experiences in the comment section below 🙂
To Your Personal Growth,
– Jari Roomer
Founder Personal Growth Lab
Ps. At the moment I’m almost finished with writing my first e-book covering 15 productivity and motivation strategies to easily overcome procrastination and remove it out of your system once and for all. Interested? Sign up here to be first in line (and receive a big discount) when it releases!