Why do we procrastinate? I say “we” because in case you thought you were the only struggling with procrastination, I have good news: you are not alone!

Every single one of us humans struggle with procrastination. No one is exempt from this insidious habit and unless you proactively put specific “guardrails”  in place to keep you from going down the slippery slope of procrastination, you can be sure to experience major delays in reaching your goals and dreams if you ever reach them. I don’t mean to sound like a scolding mother but the raw truth shall set you free.

So what is procrastination and why do we all do it? The best definition I’ve been able to come up with for procrastination also happens to be the same definition I use to describe Fear which is: The anticipation of pain. Procrastination is therefore a manifestation of fear. Think about it? why else would we delay an activity? We don’t delay getting ready to go party or to do things that we perceive to be pleasurable and fun right? So procrastination is, undoubtedly, our way to put off something we think is going to bring us some kind of perceived pain. Whether we think the task is going to be hard, time consuming, boring or tedious, we just rather put off then  to experience the perceived painful process of getting that thing done. The only problem is that, the longer we put it off, the worst we feel and the more our power is diminished and oh yeah, the task is still undone. We end up prolonging the pain even longer than if we had just completed the dreaded task and gotten it over with. This is where Nike’s “Just Do It” seems to be the obvious answer but for far too many of us, it’s not.

Although I continue to face procrastination in my life and in my work, here are 3 simple steps that have really helped me increase my productivity and my results.

  1. Brain Dump: This is when you “dump” everything you need to do on a piece of paper (or 2 or 3) and I mean EVERYTHING. From your personal chores to action items on projects to things you have to do for work. Everything comes out of your head and goes onto paper. Don’t worry about organizing or prioritizing at this point. Just focus on emptying out your mind of all the todos that have been bouncing around in there. Once everything is on paper, then, you want to group similar tasks into categories (i.e. personal errands, project 1, project 2, work etc..).

  2. Block off time on calendar: Next, you want to grab a calendar and create blocks of time to for each category. For example, you can have Friday 12pm-2pm blocked off for personal errands and Monday 7pm-9pm blocked off for project 1. Whatever you do, make sure the blocks of time you are choosing are realistic for you and make sure that you can stick with them.

  3. Make appointment with self: Finally, you will figure out how much time you need for each task and you will make an appointment with yourself in the appropriate block of time to complete each and every single one of the tasks that were once tormenting you. This exercise will give you so much clarity and clarity=power.

You can expect the following feelings to leave you alone: anxiety, overwhelm, confusion and most importantly PROCRASTINATION.