How To Stop Procrastinating

Do you procrastinate? Do you have goals or ideas of what you’d like to achieve, but sometimes find yourself not able to get started, or not able to complete them. Do you get distracted easily? Do you sometimes find that you’re able to keep yourself really busy but feel that there are more important things that you’re avoiding or should be doing? Do you sometimes feel you don’t know where to start so you just don’t get started at all? Do you feel that you aren’t achieving the things in your life that you would like to achieve? Do you sometimes feel that achievement of your important goals is so far away? Do you feel you are holding yourself back?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then you’re probably acknowledging something about yourself that you probably already knew. But did you realise that you’re probably not alone. Many men experience these challenges. Many many have a sense of what they could achieve in their lives but somehow aren’t able to manifest them or make them happen. It’s not unusual for men to feel that they’re really busy but not actually achieving what’s truly important to them.

Sometimes you may procrastinate about smaller things, such as making a phone call or doing the laundry. At other times the procrastination may involve more significant actions or decisions, such as asking someone out on a date, or ending a relationship that has past it’s due date.

And, when we procrastinate, we usually regard this as something negative, as a reason to be critical towards ourselves. We may give ourselves a hard time for what we’re not achieving.

However, procrastination can also be something positive. It can be a sign that something is not quite right, or a sign of a deeper question that needs to be asked of yourself. To understand what I mean by this, it’s important to understand what may be causing the procrastination.

From my experience procrastination usually has one of three key causes.

The first is a lack of knowledge, skills or information. For example, If I have a task to do and I don’t know how to do it, or I don’t know how to get started, then there’s a good chance I might find ways to avoid doing it, to avoid getting started, to procrastinate. These patterns can be exacerbated when I think that I should know how to perform the task, or I think that others believe I should know how to do it. And, usually with this kind of procrastination, there isn’t a conscious awareness about the lack of knowledge, skills or information. In other words, you haven’t realised consciously that don’t really know how to get started or how to do what you’re supposed to do.

To resolve this kind of procrastination one of the first things to do is to ask yourself: Do I know how to complete the task or goal? Do I have the skills, knowledge and/or information I require? If the answer is ‘no’, then the next action is to identify what skills, knowledge or information is missing and create a plan to obtain them. And the third action is to take the first step. Once you’ve identified what needs to happen it’s important to take take the first step – even a really small one – towards what you’re trying to achieve.

This brings me to the second reason people usually procrastinate – that is because they are overwhelmed. They are overwhelmed because the task or goal is so big that they don’t know where to start. Given how big it seems, they may feel that it’s impossible or totally unachievable.

If you’re feeling a sense of overwhelm with a task that is causing you to procrastinate, then the first thing to do is to break it down into smaller steps – even tiny steps if necessary. When mountaineers conquer high and difficult mountains they may have a broad goal in mind, but their plan is to achieve smaller steps towards the goal. They usually break down the journey into stages, and then their focus is on achieving the next stage. They know that if they can focus on each stage at a time and complete each stage, by default they will also achieve the overall goal. In fact, the focus/goal can be broken down even further. They may well be focusing just on the next step, and the next, and the next.

Usually the first step towards achieving any goal is the hardest, so if you can break it down in this way and find a way to take just the first step, you’ll start to create momentum.

The third reason why people may procrastinate is due to an internal conflict that exists within them. An internal conflict is when a part of you wants something, but a different part of you wants something else … which may be in conflict with the first part. At any point in your life where you’ve needed to make a decision you may have been undecided because both, or all, of the options were attractive in their own way.

For example there may be a part of you that seeks adventure – wanting to try new things. Another part of you may be focused on keeping you safe. So, if for example you are considering going bungee jumping you may struggle to decide what to do because both parts of you may have strong views about what you should do. Until you can resolve or reconcile these differences it’s going to be hard to make a decision.

One way to force the issue is to override one of your parts – though in doing so you may be overriding an important part of you. This has the potential then to create some ongoing doubts or self-criticism about the decision – “what if?”

Sometimes when you are procrastinating and you have an internal conflict, you may not even realise it. This may be because you are not consciously aware of one of your parts.

Some of our parts have been with us for many years. Some have been with us since we were kids. Sometimes our parts may behave in certain ways, or with established patterns, because that is what they have always done. For example, if you were bullied at school you may have a protector part that is very strong and that prevents you from doing anything that has any risk associated with it. And, while that part played an important role for you while you were at school (and helped to keep you as safe as possible) it may still be playing it’s role even though you are an adult and are no longer in danger. In this case it could be holding you back from opportunities.

The important thing about all of our parts is that that are “OUR” parts. They are part of who we are. And usually our parts are there for some reason – they are, or have at some time, served us in a very important way.

When we procrastinate because of internal conflicts, the most effective way forward is to explore these conflicts and try to resolve them. However, as much as we might try to figure them out on our own, it is often necessary to find a suitable professional to help us to explore our parts and the roles that they play in our internal conflict, and therefore our procrastination.

So, if procrastination is impacting your life in a negative way, it’s important to realise that you can do something about it by taking these three important steps:

  1. Ask yourself if you have the skill, knowledge and/or information needed to move forward
  2. Break your task/goal down into smaller and more management chunks – and then take a small step (any step) forward
  3. Consider how internal conflict may be helping to create the procrastination and if necessary pick up the phone and call someone today who can help you to resolve these and more forward in your life

And, if after taking these 3 steps you feel the procrastination is still unresolved, it may be well be that there is an ongoing internal conflict of which you are not aware – or the procrastination may be continuing for different underlying reason. Either way, if you’re serious about making some changes in your life, I recommend that you seek some professional support.

Procrastination can be overcome – but you need to take the first step.


Harley Conyer




Category : Blog & Featured & Manhood & Procrastination & Relationships

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