This post is by Australia Counselling member and Geelong counsellor and psychotherapist Colleen Morris.

“Never put off tomorrow, what you can do today'” Thomas Jefferson

Most of us would not deny the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson’s words, but human nature is fickle at times and I for one, have to deliberately go against my natural inclination when making the choice to NOT procrastinate.

Here are 13 ways to stop procrastination and ‘not put off tomorrow, what you can do today’.

Fear of Failure

1. Get into the habit of practicing the following writing exercise each time fear of doing something attacks you:-

Answer these questions:

A. What story is Fear telling you?
(If you attempt to ………….. you will…………)
B. What is Fear’s intention as it tells you this story about you?
(Fear wants me to ……………)
C. If ‘Courage ‘ came to visit, what would it say to you that Fear wants you to forget?
(I am…………………….; I the past I have……………..)
D. If you could rely on ‘Courage’ to be there for you, how would that make a difference?

2. Make a list of all your strengths. If you are struggling, ask others who know you. Put the list in a place where you will read it every day.

3. Reflect, journal or draw a picture about the times that you have accessed courage to achieve a challenging task. Courage is never the absence of fear, but what you choose to act upon in spite of the presence of fear.

4. To move beyond your need to over-plan, give yourself a time-frame to work in and ask a friend to keep you accountable to your goal. Your challenge is to move from a position of over-thinking to the new position of action.

5. You frequently self- sabotage by looking too far ahead. Once you have a time-frame, break down the task into ‘baby steps’ and focus on achieving each smaller step before you attend to the next stage.

Fear of Being Overwhelmed

6. Remember the KISS approach (Keep It Simple Stupid). It is essential that you approach daily life, one day at a time, one task at a time. You are not a multi-tasker so learn to say ‘no’ to additional tasks before you have finished the one you are presently working on.

7. Keep a journal and get into the habit of writing lists. By doing this, you transfer the information causing chaos in your mind, onto paper. Enjoy the satisfaction of being able to tick things off when they are done.

8. Get plenty of physical exercise. Exercise serves to distract you from your thoughts and work off the emotional overload your mind experiences every day. You will experience more mental and physical energy when you exercise on a regular basis.

Fear of the Consequences

9. Write down or speak to a friend about what the consequences of your action might be:

  • What will its impact be for you and how do you react to that?
  • Are you fearful about other people’s reactions?
  • Consider what that fear is about and why the thought creates discomfort.

By becoming more aware of what it is that scares you and why, fear begins to lose its power over you.

10. Talk to a professional about your fears. Having a strong emotional reaction to the things you fear often indicates that there are family of origin issues to deal with. By exploring these fears with a professional counsellor, you can identify past hurts and overcome old fears to empower you in the present.

The Fear of Commitment

11. Write down the skills and resources you need for the task. Do you have all of these or do you need more time to develop some of them?

12. Sometimes fear of commitment is indicative of attachment insecurity from childhood. This is not uncommon, given that none of us had perfect parents who could attend to our every need as a very young child. For some of us, the insecurity we felt as children becomes problematic in our adulthood when it prevents you from being able to feel attached or connected to another person without the need to also disconnect. If you can identify with this need to be both close to, and distant from, the people closest to you to the point that relationships break down and commitments are not followed through, I encourage you to see a professional counsellor who can work with you to understand and heal some of your attachment insecurity.

The Thrill of the Eleventh Hour

13. If you want to change this habit, try setting aside 15 minutes each day to work on your project. A short enough time not to get bored and long enough to purposely work towards your task.

Remember that at the end of the day, the person whose responsibility it is to change is YOU. Procrastination will resist the strategies you put in place, so make yourself accountable by talking to a friend or a professional counsellor. The support a professional counsellor can provide will keep you motivated and focused on overcoming procrastination.

What tips do you have to stop procrastination? Please leave your comments below.

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