Procrastination: The Silent Killer

Procrastination is an epidemic and we need to start taking seriously.

I’ll never forget last year having a coaching call and explaining to my coach that I hadn’t ticked off much from my ‘to do’ list from the week before. I laughed as I said it, mainly at my uselessness…but she stopped me midday and simply replied “it isn’t funny Anna.”

I have to say, the comment knocked me at first but you know what…she was damn right.

Procrastination is no laughing matter. It’s a dream stealer, a goal killer and a potential annihilator. It’s also incredibly straightforward to overcome…if you’re up for the challenge.

There are lots of procrastination self-help books out there that you can use…the problem is…will you get around to reading them? Ok, enough joking around.

Plus…aren’t we sick of hearing the same old advice time and time again?

After years of coaching, mentoring and teaching…plus my own experience and research into what makes us procrastinate (and more importantly, what can make us stop)…here are my top three tips on how to stop procrastinating…before it does irreparable damage. These are all based on some surprising empirical research on the topic…

1. Make sure you aren’t living a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The research shows that procrastinators often self-identify as procrastinators and thus live a self-fulfilling prophecy. Put simply, this means that they believe they will always procrastinate…so they do. They also tend to believe that people don’t like them because they procrastinate and live up to this bad reputation. It’s like having the friend who teases you for being late to everything and so every time you arrange to meet them you’re late! Being someone who messes around with stuff and procrastinates is a story you’re telling yourself and it’s a story that you can change if you want to.

2. Keep your ego in check.

People who procrastinate often do so to make themselves look good. What’s that you say? My ego is sabotaging me? Never. I know, hard to believe…but yep. Your ego has a role in procrastination too. One study found that people like to make tasks look more difficult than they actually were by indulging in some good old procrastinating. 

For me, this is massively linked to a fear of outshining others. When I completed my PhD I took the longest timeline possible to do so and I procrastinated like a pro when in reality, I could have easily shaved 6-12 months off the time it took me. Yet if we were to stop procrastinating and really go for it, we would soon zoom past others and for many women that is something they just don’t feel comfortable doing.

These days, when working on a new project I always ask myself…”what would this look like if it was easy?” I am more than happy to outshine anyone who would rather procrastinate!

3. Be kinder to yourself.

One of the most surprising ways to stop procrastination is to increase your levels of self-forgiveness. Research shows that people who are kinder to themselves procrastinate less and find it much easier to bounce back from a bout of procrastination. For many of us, if we have an unproductive morning we tend to beat ourselves up and then write off the rest of the day. However, imagine if you were able to forgive yourself in a much quicker time frame and crack on with our day? Next time you find yourself in this situation, try to be mindful and forgive yourself. Just because you have wasted a few hours doesn’t mean you need to waste the rest of the day.

For more tips on things like this and to be part of a like-minded online community make sure you join my free group ‘The Self-Made Woman’ over on Facebook. Click here to join for free.

Cover photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

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