We know we all have a lot on our plates in both our business and our personal lives. Some of us can handle it all. But some, even the most organized and disciplined among us, can feel scattered and even lost at times. There are so many distractions! But what’s actually getting in the way of us focusing and being more productive?
Do you procrastinate? Procrastination is one habit that steers us off focus and off course. Besides delaying forward progress, an incidental result of occasional or habitual procrastination can be feeling badly about yourself, which in turn causes its own downside issues, impairing your personal productivity and achievement.
How does procrastination manifest in you? Why are you distracted from achieving what you say you want? Are you responding to emails or posting on Facebook instead of focusing on projects you should be working on? Do you visit the kitchen or make a telephone call to avoid doing or completing the task at hand?
Sometimes, we are not sure where we want to start, whether it’s a given day or a given task. Your internal dialogue can sound something like this:
I don’t know what I should begin with. What’s the most important thing? What can I do right now?
To confront this problem, the first to do is set your Intention.
This means seeing the project that’s in front of you with more clarity; seeing it in its completeness; and seeing exactly what it is that you are going to do in this moment.
If this is a big project, that in itself can be overwhelming and can lead to procrastination or inefficiency in approaching it. Break the project down into smaller action steps. Otherwise, you risk transforming your focus away from the project and toward an obsession such as “Oh my gosh, I have somuch work to do”instead of focusing on the task at hand.
Ask yourself these questions:
What am I looking to accomplish?
Why am I doing this…what’s the purpose?
Then ask What is the “why” to this action?
When you find yourself looking at the whole project, you become clearer on your intention.
Then ask yourself “What’s next?”
For example, one project I am currently working on is writing my book. There is a lot that goes into a book – writing, illustrations, chapter topics and titles, finding a publisher, and so on. It can quickly get overwhelming, so I begin the times when I work on the book by first choosing one task at a time to confront.
I also give myself a time limit for each task. At the beginning I’ll give myself an hour to write down my creative thoughts. Next, maybe another hour to focus on a list of topics for my chapters.
If you cannot focus after setting your intention and answering the questions I’ve suggested above, you may have to get to work to clear out some internal resistance within yourself. Ask yourself, What might be causing me to move away from my effort. Perhaps there are other things pressing you beside the actual task or project itself.
Thus you must balance your focus and consider what the downside would be to getting the task or project done? This is where self-sabotage (getting in our own way) can come in, and if you discover this is what you’re doing, you’ll need to confront the issue.
Whatever the reason for a bout of self-sabotage, realize that it likely lies behind our habitual and sometimes destructive belief—founded or unfounded—in our own limitations.
For example, thinking I never get stuff done is a negative, limiting belief that, like a recorded message, may actually be running in background somewhere inside your head. In that case, put your focus on the positives that will result from accomplishing the task you’re finding troublesome by asking yourself, What will the experience will be like? Then contrast it with what it will be like if you do not accomplish that task. Most often, you’ll quickly find the consequences here are far worse in the short and the long run.
A long-term defense against procrastination and the negative limiting beliefs that often are the causes behind it is simple. Live your life fully. Don’t let limiting beliefs bog you down or stop you from improving your life or your career. Focus on the positive benefits of success. Lose your old negative story and create a new, positive one.
Step out of history and into destiny!