February 24, 2021

Gently overcoming procrastination

About this episode...

Gently overcoming procrastination

If you're procrastinating more than normal at the moment, you're not alone.

Sometimes procrastination is what your brain needs. The tricky thing is if you've identified that you are procrastinating and it's not making you feel good, or you feel guilty that you should be doing other things.

It's important to be gentle with yourself. Don't force yourself to do a butt-load of stuff just because you feel you have to.

If you do want to gently start and change things, in this episode I share my favourite tips to help you understand where your procrastination is coming from and feel more focused.

Read the full episode in the transcript tab.

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Transcript of the Marketing Morsels podcast with Lauren Taylor

Lauren Taylor:

(00:05):

Hello, this is Lauren Taylor, and welcome to episode 11 of marketing morsels. This week, we're going to be talking about procrastination. If you find that you're doing it more than normal at the moment, you're not alone. I've seen loads of people asking this question. There's a lot going on in the world at the moment. And you've likely got a lot of stuff whirling around your brain. Now we're absolutely not about toxic productivity here. You'll see some people posting about their hustle and how much stuff they've got done. And that sort of stuff can really make you feel bad about yourself and feel like you should be doing more. When really you should be doing exactly what your brain and your body needs you to do right now. But if you have identified that you are procrastinating and you want to gently start to change things, I'm going to share a few things that might help you feel a little less overwhelmed.

(00:55):

The first thing is to accept it. It might be exactly what you need right now. That little hit of dopamine every time you complete a task. If you're completing little tasks and it's making you feel good, that's great. Keep doing it. Because you might feel like you're wasting time or not spending your energy in the right places, but you're still doing things. You're still ticking things off your to do list and getting stuff done and heading in the right direction. The tricky thing is if you've identified that you are procrastinating and it's not making you feel good, or you're feeling guilty that you should be doing other things or you've been putting big tasks off. So it's important for you to determine which side of the fence you're on. And it's not always going to be the same. Have a think where it sits with you right now.

(01:38):

Yes, you might be procrastinating, but does it actually sit okay with you? Because that's just what you need to be doing right now. Or is it making you feel bad and guilty. If so, that's fine too. You're not alone. The important thing is to be gentle with yourself. Don't force yourself to get a buttload of stuff done just because you feel you have to. That's not really healthy. The next point is understand it, don't fight it. Most procrastination comes from a fear of something. If it's over a specific task, maybe it's because that means you're afraid of being judged about that task. Or you know that once you've done that task, the next step is to do something scary, like be a bit more public on social media or do a presentation. Or it could be a fear of thinking that you don't know enough. So it's maybe a lack of confidence over a particular task.

(02:27):

Take some time to understand why you're procrastinating and tackle the underlying reason behind it. And once you've identified it, that can help you kickstart the next steps because you know exactly what it is you're avoiding and why. Okay. Now we'll get into the nuggets of the few things you can try that might help you just gently start to chip away and overcome your procrastination. But again, remember, it's not about brute force. Stop doing this, do that. It's about just really slowly understanding what's going on underneath and identifying the specific tasks that you're avoiding and why. And then you can start working towards getting each one done. So I'll share some of my favorite processes. The first one is just put one thing on your to-do list. Now, chances are, if you're procrastinating, you've either got a big list of lots of little things you want to do. And a few big things on the same list.

(03:19):

Or if you haven't got a physical list, it'll be in your head, all those tasks spinning around and you're choosing to do the smallest quickest things, because you're avoiding the big things. So if you take off, unless they're important, obviously if you take off everything else and just keep one thing on your list, it gets rid of all those other distracting tasks. And it also removes the guilt of not completing them because they weren't on your to-do list in the first place. So all you've got to do is that one task that's got your full attention and your full focus. So if you could be quite firm with yourself on this and put those other little tasks aside for another day, just having one thing on your list gets rid of the guilt of having to do everything. You cannot physically procrastinate.

(04:05):

So the key thing here is how do you decide which one thing you're going to put on your list? There's a couple of ways of doing this. My favourite is to choose the one thing that's giving you the most anxiety. What's the one thing that you've been putting off and avoiding that you really want to get started with. That's usually the source of all the guilt, all the procrastination. It's coming from one or two tasks that you really don't want to do. So putting that task on your list means you can start it without all the distractions. Just think how amazing you're going to feel after you've completed that task, or even just started it if it's a big task. The way you feel about it now, it's like doing a big presentation. The buildup is far worse than actually doing it. And afterwards you're going to feel amazing.

(04:49):

But if there isn't a task that's causing anxiety or you're not quite ready to commit to that one thing yet, think about the task on your list that's going to have the biggest impact either for you, your clients, your potential clients, just helping other people. What one thing could you choose right now that's going to have the biggest impact and hold the most value. And by impact and value I mean, what is going to make a real difference to you or your clients or potential clients with their day-to-day lives, with a project they're working on. What's going to bring them closer to their goals. What's really important to you or your customers right now. And what would you feel great about completing or just starting? Okay. Next one, set a timer. I know a lot of people have really good success with something called the Pomodoro technique. Which means giving yourself 25 minutes to work on a task and then having a five minute break.

(05:42):

But some people switch it up a bit and do 50 minutes working on a task and then have a 10 minute break. What I like to do is 30 minutes and then have a five minute break. For some reason, my brain thinks 25 minutes is not long enough. It's happier with 30 minutes. Try a few different durations and see what works best for you. The important thing is you focus solely on that one task during that time. That allows you to do deep work. Work tends to expand to fill whatever time you give it. So if you give yourself a whole day or a week to do a task, there's a good chance you'll take that long to do it, even if you're not working on it the whole time. But if you give yourself a set block of time to work on a task, either complete it in that time or just work on it in little chunks until it's finished, then you've immediately shrunk down the time you're spending on it. Because you've been really strict about how long you want to spend on that task.

(06:38):

And by doing that, you get stuff done so much quicker because you're not mucking around overthinking things, over-editing things, over-analysing things, over-planning. You just sit down, do your half an hour. And that's it. If you need a bit longer, you can either come back to it after your break or come back to it another day. And during this time, make sure you close all other distractions. Close down your email, put your phone somewhere else, close down your browser. Or just keep whatever tabs open that you need if you need them. Close down everything else. You can even get apps that can block out certain programs when you want to. But a good alternative is to just make things full screen. It just helps get rid of that temptation because you can't see the fun little icons trying to grab your attention. You can get Pomodoro apps as well that you can use as a timer, but you'll probably have either an app on your phone or, or a timer on your computer that's built in.

(07:32):

Set your timer and have it right in front of your face so you can see it counting down. And because you can see the timer, it almost panics you into focusing. Because you're looking at your time, you're thinking 'right, I've got 21 minutes left, keep writing, keep writing'. And by doing it that way, whereas if you had hours and hours, it stops your brain from constantly thinking and rethinking and self-editing, because you're just letting everything come out and letting everything happen. Okay. The next point, break down big tasks. If you've got a really large task or a really large part of a project or a big piece of work, break them down into manageable little pieces. So rather than trying to put pressure on yourself to do loads and loads and loads, chop it down into small little steps that you can take towards completing that task. And then when you're working on that task, you don't have to feel guilty that if at the end of the day you haven't finished it.

(08:22):

And just take it at your own pace. Don't put too much pressure on yourself to try and do too much too quickly. And then instead of avoiding the task for ages, you can do a little bit towards that each day. By the end of the week, you've done maybe half your project. So break down your big tasks in small manageable little pieces. The next one, I really like doing this, plan your week ahead. So either Monday morning, Friday night, Sunday night, whenever is the end or start of your week, sit down and choose the tasks that you want to achieve that week. Now again, don't try and do too much, just four or five things that you want to complete. And again, go back to what are the things that are going to have the biggest impact. What the most important things, what are the things you've been putting off for ages, make those your tasks for the coming week.

(09:08):

And you can even schedule time for them in your calendar. So you're blocking out the time when you're going to be working on them. And there's a good chance you've got a big list of things you want to do, but just choose four or five and forget about everything else for that week. Focus on your most important tasks. And then the following week, you can pick a new set of four or five tasks from your list. And that way you'll start plowing through your tasks in no time. One little trick is if you get to the end of the week and you haven't completed all of your tasks that you wanted to, something unforeseen could have happened, or you could've had a new project come in. That's okay, these things will happen. But anything you didn't get done in the current week, put it on your list for the next week as a non-negotiable. That's your first task for that week and make that your priority and your main focus.

(09:51):

And then when you do it like that, no one task will take you longer than two weeks, because if you don't get it done in the first week, you can be strict with yourself and say 'right, well, I didn't get chance to do it last week. I'm going to do it this week'. And then unless something really big happens that means you can't do it, you know that it's never going to roll over into a third week. And if it means in your second week you only put one or two tasks on your list, so be it. It still means you've finished what you set out to do without the distraction and guilt of not doing everything else on your list. And the last thing, treat yourself. If you're using a version of the Pomodoro technique and giving yourself blocks of time to work on a task in your break, go get yourself a nice cup of tea, have a biscuit.

(10:33):

When you complete big projects do something nice for yourself. Buy yourself a little treat. Having something to look forward to as a little reward, I know it sounds like a really small thing, but it does help. It helps you stay motivated and feel good and celebrate your successn when you've finished a task. Especially if it's one you've been really scared of doing for ages. So give yourself a little pat on the back and celebrate the little things that you've achieved. And celebrate the fact that you focus properly on them. Okay. So that's everything I wanted to talk to you about this week. So I'm going to give you a little bit of homework this week. Try a few of these out over the next few weeks and see if any of them help you shift your mindset a little bit, even just a tiny bit. Again, it's about being gentle with yourself and doing what's right for you. But if you're going to try a few, I'd recommend starting with the Pomodoro technique and putting just one thing on your list. Those are the things you can try straight away. And those two combined could make a big difference to focusing your time. Which means you'll have loads of free time to spend eating snacks and watching Netflix.

(11:37):

Righteo, off you go then. Have a lovely week and I'll see you next time.

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