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The 3 Reasons Why You Procrastinate

And how to overcome them.

Source: Pedro da Silva/Unsplash
Stop procrastinating.
Source: Pedro da Silva/Unsplash

When entrepreneurial clients come to work with me, procrastination is often the first problem that they want to tackle. So many of us feel that we’re unable to work as effectively as we’d like, sometimes failing to complete even the most important tasks and facing big consequences as a result.

Often, the problem with procrastination is that if you’re overwhelmed or overworked, you don’t have the energy to do the important stuff, and so instead, you prioritize low-value tasks, make to-do lists, or ignore the issue and hope it goes away. Unfortunately, these strategies often don’t work. Why? Because they don’t confront the underlying reasons for your procrastination.

You see, in order to be productive, three important things must come together in your brain:

1. You must know exactly what task you plan to do and why you plan to do it. For example, you want to reach clients by writing a blog post.

2. You must know how to do it. For example, you need to know how to write a blog post, what your subject is going to be, how to structure it, etc.

3. You must want to do it, and if you don’t want to do it, why? Is there something else you could do instead?

If one of these things is missing when you approach a task, then it is highly likely that you will procrastinate.

So, if you find yourself procrastinating, don’t criticize yourself (that rarely works)! Instead, you’re better served by asking yourself, "Why am I doing this?" Get your brain to understand that it’s not because you’re lazy, incapable, or unproductive, but rather that there are underlying reasons sabotaging your productivity.

The next step is to focus on each of these elements and ensure that they are all complete. For example, if you’re writing a blog post, make sure you understand what you need to do and why you need to do it. Make sure you’re clear on exactly how this activity is going to get you more clients because if you’re unclear, your brain will think it’s not that important.

Next, make sure you’re clear on how to undertake your task: In this case, make sure you know how to write a blog post. For instance, you may need to invest some time in researching your topic and finding tips on how to reach your target audience.

If you complete all this, and you still find yourself resisting the work, ask yourself this question: “Do I really want to do this?”

If the honest answer is no, then consider if there is another medium that you could use to the same effect. For instance, could you host a weekly live stream instead of writing? Or perhaps record a podcast?

It's more important for you to find the most natural way for you to complete a task so that this minimizes the risk of you procrastinating on crucial tasks that could move your goals forward.

To summarise, in order for you to stop procrastinating, you need to understand the reason why you’re procrastinating. It isn’t because there is anything fundamentally wrong with you, and you aren’t necessarily disorganized or incapable; you’re just not set up for success. Examine which of the three success criteria is missing (knowing what to do, how to do it, and having the desire to see it through) and address it. If you do, then putting off those less than desirable tasks will become a thing of the past.