The reason you procrastinate is not what you think. You think it's something about you, as if you're broken but it's far easier and simpler to fix than that.
Hi, my name is Eric Partaker and I help entrepreneurs reach their fullest potential in business, in life, and today I'm going to teach you three powerful things that you can use to overcome any procrastination tendencies that you have.
Now, unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for the sake of today's message, I feel super well placed to talk about procrastination and overcoming it, because as I've shared previously, I used to be the world's worst procrastinator. I even bought a set of books on procrastination. I remember I bought them in 2000. I didn't read them. They stood on my shelf and I did not read them for a decade; 10 years. These procrastination books stood on my shelf. I stared at them almost every day for 10 years before I picked up a single one to read them. I mean, that must qualify me for being one of the world's worst procrastinators.
Eventually, I did pick up these books, started reading them, and I really learned so much from all the methodologies and the tips and the tricks and I actively applied this. And while it didn't lead to overnight success, it did allow me to transform myself from a procrastinator, into a producer and I really want to accelerate your learning on this front. I don't want you to go through all the pain that I had to go through to overcome this. So I'm going to simplify things today into a super simple message around three primary things that you can do to overcome your procrastination tendencies.
Out of all the stuff that I did with regard to improving my own procrastination tendencies, these were the three that delivered the biggest bang for the buck and I'm pretty confident they're going to do the same for you. So make sure you listen and stick around for the whole message because otherwise, well, if you don't overcome these tendencies within you, otherwise you might take a decade to do what could be done in a few years, or you might take a year to do what could be done in a few months, and that probably will have a serious, seriously negative impact on your life.
So the number one, most powerful thing that I learned behind the reason why I was procrastinating was simply how I was talking to myself. Now, I want you to just pause for a moment and I want you to think about... Think about a situation where you typically procrastinate. Maybe it was, maybe it happened earlier today. Maybe it happened yesterday, but think about a situation which triggered procrastination, or just visualize in your head, a procrastination moment. I want you to try to think of what are the words that subconsciously you might be saying to yourself at that moment. And I reckon, I bet that the sentence in your mind, if you were to verbalize it, goes something along the lines of, "I have to do this now." You know, "I have to finish this now." Or, "I should be doing this or that right now."
Now the problem with that sort of language is that it's the language of oppression. It's negative self-talk. Right? The moment you say I have to do something, or I should do something. I have to finish something. It just conjures up resistance. It's like you're forcing yourself to do something you don't want to do.
Now, when you are feeling that you're being pushed to do something you don't want to do, what do you think happens? Resistance is the answer and the resistance manifests itself, or it comes in the form of procrastination, and that means that you'll back off on wanting to do or complete whatever it is that you know you should be doing, or you know that you want to be doing, or that you rather would be doing.
But check this out. Here's the powerful thing we can do. We can actually change this language. We could change the negative self-talk and the positive self-talk and you could start looking for those moments of procrastination, as your opportunities to practice this. The next moment that you feel the urge to procrastinate, I want you to take note of that self-talk in your mind. You're not going to be saying this out loud, but you know, the words going on in your head, and swap in new language and the new language is simply a three part sentence, which I'm going to break down for you.
I choose to start for just five minutes. So instead of, I have to finish whatever it is, I choose to start for just five minutes. Why is this sentence so powerful? Well, let me break it down.
So the first part is choice. Language of choice. Rather than I have to, or I should do something, which is going to create resistance, I'm choosing to do something. I don't need to like to do it. I didn't say I'm going to enjoy because there'll be some things that you're doing that you don't like doing but you can still choose to do them. And when you say that you are choosing to do something, you're putting yourself in control, you're taking agency of the situation. And when we're in control, we're less likely to, well, there's nothing to resist. If we're choosing to do something, it's us doing it, right? It's not like I have to or I should, as if somebody else is asking me. So there's no resistance there.
Then by focusing on the start, rather than the finish, instead of I have to finish, I choose to start, starting again has a powerful impact rather than focusing on the finish because the focus on the finish could be overwhelming. Whereas, focusing on the start can happen in just as a nanosecond, right? A starting takes just an instant and for just five minutes, it reduces the overwhelm, right? Cause you're just going to be doing it for five minutes. Now the truth is, once you choose to start for five minutes, I've never, I'd never remember when the five minutes go up.
So in summary, the first thing that you need to do with regard to overcoming this procrastination is watching your self-talk and changing the self-talk from a negative, I have to finish something, to a positive, a more positive, I choose to start for just five minutes.
Now, the second thing that contributed to my procrastination is not scheduling in my week things to look forward to. You know, when will I be exercising? When will I be hanging out with some friends? When will I be taking some time to read a book? When will I just chill out and watch a film? There was nothing to look forward to in my week and by taking the time to schedule in some opportunities to just have some fun and relax and know when those things were coming in the week, but by knowing that I had something to look forward to, I found myself less likely to procrastinate because I knew that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. That on a daily basis, I might have this reward or that reward and so it kind of gave me some energy to get through my day in a more positive way.
The last thing I did to conquer my procrastination, to transform from a procrastinator to a producer, is all around timesheeting your day. So what do I mean by that? I developed a hyper-awareness on where my time was going. I didn't do this forever, but I did it for quite an extended period of time and literally all I did was I would start my day with a sheet of paper, with four columns. I wrote activity, start time, end time, total minutes. And during the course of the day, I just recorded every single task that I did.
By shining a spotlight of awareness on where my time was going, I not only started to become a little bit more responsible with how I was using my time, but I also, in a positive way, started to feel quite guilty when I knew that I was doing things that I shouldn't be doing, like browsing the net or spending time on social media.
And also you end up feeling a little bit silly too, if for the third time in two hours, you need to write on your timesheet, Facebook, 10:17 to 10:30, 13 minutes. So you start to, as the pen is going to the paper, start to say, "Well, actually, do I need to record that? Do I need to be doing that right now? Or should I stop myself?"
So, timesheeting in your day is incredibly powerful, at least for a period of time, because it really highlights where your time is going and makes you question if you should really be making that decision in the moment to go ahead and waste that next batch or segment of time.
So I hope you've enjoyed that trifecta, which I've used to overcome my procrastination. Give it a try. Change your negative self-talk to positive self-talk. Make sure you're scheduling something to look forward to in your weeks, in your days, and make sure you give timesheeting a bit of a try, to see if you can get a better understanding of where your time's going and create some positive guilt around recording those things that you know you shouldn't be spending your time on.
So I hope you've enjoyed that and if you head over to my website at ericpartaker.com, you'll also be able to subscribe to my weekly Insights Newsletter.