In this solo episode I’m sharing about a topic very close to my heart, procrastination.
- Why we procrastinate (hint: it’s not because you’re lazy)
- My own procrastination struggle
- My most powerful tips for getting stuff done
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Hello and welcome to the Calmer You podcast. This is your host, Chloe Brotheridge. I’m a coach, a hypnotherapist, and I’m the author of The Anxiety Solution and Brave New Girl. This podcast is all about helping you to become your calmest happiest and most confident self.
Hello and welcome fellow procrastinator. Well done you have chosen to listen to this episode. You’ve not put it off. It’s a great start. Procrastination is an area that is very close to my heart. Something that I have struggled with a lot of, you know, in the past. On occasions I still do. It’s just the most frustrating thing. We can really get ourselves into cycles of beating ourselves up because we’re procrastinating. Then basically that means that you procrastinate more. Beating yourself up really saps your motivation.
There is a way out of this
If you’re struggling with this, which obviously you are, because you wouldn’t be listening to this, my heart’s really going out to you. I want to say that there is a way out of this.
In this episode, I’m going to be talking about why we procrastinate. Also, I’m going to be sharing my own experiences. And, some of the things that we can do to get ourselves out of this cycle and make a change.
If you would like to get some free resources to help you to be calmer and happier, you can head over to calmer-you.com/free, and download my free resources there. And please do make sure you are a subscriber to this podcast. To listen on your iPhone, please subscribe in the apple podcast app and do send this along to a fellow procrastinator who might just need to hear this message today.
Procrastination and anxiety
Anxiety and procrastination are linked. I hear it very often from people that I’m working one on one with that this is an issue for them. I think part of it is due to the fact that if you’re anxious or stressed or worried, it is hard to focus. It can be hard to sit still even sometimes. As well as focusing, concentrating, doing something that might be challenging. Mentally taxing it is going to be so much harder when you are feeling anxious. It can also be linked to self-esteem.
If we’re not feeling good about ourselves, if we’re beating ourselves up, if we’re lacking in self-belief, then it’s going to be a lot harder to do the things that we want to do. Especially things that are outside of our comfort zone. For example, there’s also something about fear of failure and procrastination.
The root of procrastination
At the root of our procrastination is a fear of failure because we’re putting off this task because we’re scared. Whether that is starting an essay, preparing for a presentation that you’ve got or starting a business or taking some steps, they’re outside of your comfort zone, in your work or in your personal life.
If we’re fearing failure, then we are much less likely to take action because it seems safer to do nothing. It seems safer to delay it for another day. And yet, we all know that not doing something equals instant failure. So we’re kind of sabotaging ourselves in that way.
A cycle of anxiety
We are actually creating the result that we’re trying to avoid. Let’s also not forget that procrastination creates more anxiety. It creates this cycle when we feel bad about ourselves when we put something off. If the deadline gets closer, it creates more anxiety, which makes it harder to focus and concentrate and do the hard thing that we might need to do. It really is a vicious cycle.
I know the feeling of procrastination all too well. That sweet relief, we get when we decide to do it tomorrow. It’s kind of a momentary sense of relief that probably doesn’t last that long because guilt and anxiety can set in. It’s the temporary freedom from having to do something that’s different. Or boring or scary.
Setting myself up for failure
In the past, I would start the day with big plans. I’d have goals a to-do list and all the actions I wanted to take. For example, by the end of the day, I would have a sparkling clean house. And then the to-do list would be decidedly undone. When the evening would arrive, I’d just have this horrible feeling of worthlessness and guilt and frustration. Beating myself up about the fact that I hadn’t gotten on with all the things that I ‘should have been doing’.
I don’t know if anyone can relate getting caught up in busywork. When the thing that we really need to be doing gets kind of pushed aside. We preoccupy ourselves with doing unimportant admin when there’s this really important thing that we need to be getting on with.
Remember several years ago when I was launching my online course. It was a big deal for me to create something and put it into the world. I was constantly putting it off and letting a fear of failure hold me back. I was thinking, what if I get it wrong? What if no one joins the course? What if people laugh at the fact that I’ve created this. All these kind of fears and doubts in my mind.
Fear of success
Looking back, I realised that there was not only a fear of failure, but also a fear of success. That almost sounds like that can’t be a real thing. Fear of success is 100% a real thing. It’s that fear that if we are successful if we do the presentation, or if we do launch the business, or if we do get the promotion at work, then there’s going to be more expectation on us and more pressure. We’re going to fall from a greater height.
If we do fail at some point what are the people going to think if we’re successful? Are they gonna think we’re getting too big for our boots or are they going to want us to help them with things? Will it be too much? Or will they start asking us to borrow money or something like that? So all these fears of success can also come into it.
Name the fear
When we are procrastinating, I think it’s really important to recognise these fears first, and name them. So is this a fear of failure? Is it a fear of success? Is it that actually the task is just something that you don’t really want to do? You know, this can come into it as well.
Maybe you are in a career that really doesn’t fulfil you. You may have agreed to do something and actually realise that you regret agreeing to it. That’s why you’re putting it off because it’s just that you don’t want to do it.
Should we do it?
I’m not saying that, we should always give up on the things that we do. Of course, sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do. Do you indeed need to continue down that path whether a different career is the right thing for you. You need to be really mindful of the things that you agree to do, and check-in with yourself.
Your Calmest Self starting soon
First, spend more time asking yourself, is this something I really want to do before agreeing to it. Thankfully, I did create and launch the online course. I’m actually running it live again. At the moment, this week it closes on the eighth of June 2020. It’s called Your Calmest Self.
I first launched it about five years ago and I’ve updated it since then. It gives you the tools to manage your anxiety in 12 weeks or less. And if you want to check that out, you can head to calmer-you.com/programme.
Eat That Frog
I have found when it comes to procrastination, what we need to be doing if we want to start the day procrastination free is we have to Eat That Frog. There is a book called Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy. What he means by this is that we need to do the most difficult or annoying task first.
When we’ve done the most challenging, annoying or important task first thing in the morning, the rest of the day has this infusion of momentum We feel better about ourselves and give ourselves a boost in terms of our self-esteem. This increases our motivation.
Tip 1 – do the hardest task first thing in the morning
It means that doing other things that we might need to do during the day are just so much easier because we’ve done that difficult, challenging, annoying task first. That’s my first tip for procrastination.
Tip 2 – Make your bed
Tim Ferriss suggests that we do the simple task of making our bed in the morning. It’s a small achievement that can lead to bigger achievements throughout the day. Make your bed and then eat that from and you’re going to set yourself up for a better day.
Social media and emails
Social media and emails are something that we need to be looking at if we want to procrastinate less. These are the ultimate distractors. They can also provoke anxiety as well. So if we want ourselves to be in a calm state so that we can get things done, then avoiding social media and emails first thing can massively help.
I do my best to not check emails and social media for at least an hour after I wake up. I very often quite like to get up and do some tasks really early in the morning. When I was writing my books, I would get up at 6am to meditate and by 7am, I’d be writing my book. I’m not suggesting everyone needs to do that. I prefer to work early on in the morning and then finish early in the afternoon. I don’t work for 12 hours a day.
This really worked for me to actually get up really early and just start working and not checking emails and not checking social media first thing. Now we all know that Instagram is addictive for our brains. Checking social media is kind of like a drug. Daniel Goleman discusses this in his book Focus. Take some steps to minimise the impact of email and social media.
For example, I delete Instagram every single day and I install it again. I do my stories, spend about half an hour to my answer and bits and bobs and then I delete it again. That sounds extreme but it works a charm because now we only spend half an hour a day.
I also use an app called Productive, you know. It honestly has paid for itself 70 times over because it blocks certain news websites for me and certain social media sites. It means that I’m much less likely to absent-mindedly click on the Guardian or whatever it is
How can you start to prepare for the day ahead is by using some positive visualisation. I like to do this when I have a day that I really need to get in my flow. Maybe be creative. I imagine how I want the day to go, I see myself looking relaxed at my desk and focused. I have this sense of imagining myself being in flow, positive and focused. When we imagine something vividly, the same parts of our brain are being used as if it’s happening for real.
We really can create a blueprint for how we want our day to go by visualising how we want things to go.
Tip: Start before you are ready
The next suggestion I have for you is to start before you’re ready. I think this is a Richard Branson. He says say yes to an opportunity, and then figure out how you’re going to do it afterwards. So often we make excuses about not being ready or not being good enough.
I know that I’ve done this in the past. So maybe you’re telling yourself you’re not ready to give that talk. You’re not good enough to start going on dates or to begin yoga, for example. Remember that everyone has to start somewhere. Everyone was a beginner once.
You have to start somewhere
It is totally possible for us to say yes to things and trust that we’re going to learn as we go along. When I first trained as a hypnotherapist nine years ago, it wasn’t until I had worked with hundreds of clients that I felt like a hypnotherapist. You’re not going to know everything. Well, I didn’t know at all, I certainly didn’t feel ready. I had to just start and learn on the job and learn as I went along. Getting started is the most important thing, allowing yourself to be a beginner, allowing yourself to be a bit crap.
When you begin, I think we have this we need to be perfect before we can do something. Unless you’re a brain surgeon, then it probably doesn’t matter too much if you make a few mistakes along the way. Start before you’re ready.
Take tiny steps
The next thing I’m going to suggest to you is to take tiny little steps. This comes from the author of Getting Things Done, David Allen. He suggests that one of the reasons that we procrastinate is because we try and take on too much at once. Maybe you’ve got this plan of starting your own blog, for example. That may actually be a big intimidating task. We might not know where to begin. It’s just too big and unmanageable.
Instead, how can you break that into tiny little steps. Maybe that’s just spending half an hour researching possible blog titles, or making a list of 10 blog posts that you could start with. Just taking that little step, even if it’s just research, even if it’s just for half an hour, it’s going to create the momentum and the forward propulsion to get you started. You’re going to feel better about yourself once you make a little start, and it’ll help you to overcome that procrastination.
And so for my final tip on procrastination, I want to share about the Pomodoro Technique. Do you remember those egg timers that look like tomatoes? You might remember if your same age as me, basically, the Pomodoro technique involves setting a timer. It doesn’t need to be an egg timer, it could be just a timer on your phone and setting it for 25 minutes. For the duration of those 25 minutes you say to yourself, right, I’m gonna do some solid, uninterrupted work. Do not open emails, do not open Instagram, just really focusing during that time.
When the timer goes off, spending five minutes or 10 minutes, having a break, getting up and having a stretch, look at the Daily Mail if you want. Then the set the timer and get back to work for another 25 minutes.
This is something I did when I was writing my books. It massively helped me to stay on track and stay focused. It also gave me that structure for having breaks which are so important as well.
What works for you?
Which of these are you going to be trying? Let me know. Send me a message on Instagram. You’ll find me at Chloe Brotheridge and if you have any tips for me on procrastination that you want to share, come on over and let me know those as well.
Your Calmest Self
If you’re interested in my 12 week programme for anxiety that gives you the tools to become your Calmest Self. You can head to calmer-you.com/programme
You have been listening to the Calmer You podcast with me Chloe Brotheridge. Don’t forget you can download loads of freebies for anxiety and confidence at my website Calmer-you.com . You can also find out about my app and my one on one sessions there too.
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Come on over and find me on Instagram. Let me know what you thought of this episode. And please do share it with anyone who might need to hear this today. So I’m sending you loads of love and I hope you have a brilliant week ahead