How to Stop Being a Procrastinator

Today I’m going to share with you a way to stop being a procrastinator

 

  • On major projects
  • On simple action items that you know are very, very important.
  • Major goals
  • Critical pieces of your life you have developed procrastination habits around

“Help me stop procrastinating!”

You asked,  and here it is. The thing is though, it is a model and you’re going to need to spend some time on this article.  The reason we all procrastinate is that we try to tackle it with external action items, but it takes a commitment to some deeper work to stop procrastinating.

Instead of a tactical tool, like, do this and you’ll stop procrastinating!  It is a strategic tool that you will take away and employ each time you are tempted to put things off.

I’ve found this tool to be the most effective one to get true results with thousands of students and entrepreneurs – but it takes a few sessions to implement and follow up on.

What we’ve done so far to stop procrastinating:

Most of the people I work with have multiple roles in their lives and are multi-passionates (also known as multi-potentiates.) To further complicate things, in this day and age, most people have a career and a passion project or side hustle and technology that has accelerated time and what we can achieve in a day.

These are some examples from my own coaching clients:

Olympic athlete <> Student <> Research assistant <> entrepreneur

Working professional <> parent of 3 <> Rapidly scaling ‘side project’ <>in-demand speaker

Local philanthropic personality <> Social entrepreneur <> self published author

What does the procrastination literature tell us? 

If you do X, then you will get Y result.

Yet, we still feel overwhelmed and ineffective. We have the exact actions we need to take, laid out in front of us, and we don’t do it!

 

The Gap between Idea and Action.

Welcome to the part that coaches love.  The gap between idea and action on important tasks.

My clients often roll their eyes and say “I’m not motivated, I’m confused, I’m too tired/stressed/busy/forgot.” “Totally slipped my mind.”

They decide to just try again, and once again, the same inaction comes about.

Ultimately they realize that there is more that needs to be done.

No more “hacks” or “information” or “tools.” No more googling! We’re going to open the curtains and go behind the scenes.  It’s not glamorous but it is effective.

I really want to acknowledge anyone who is willing to do this deeper, inner-world work, because it takes courage. It takes the willingness to enter your deepest inner thoughts.  It’s so much easier to stay on the surface where we ask things like “what shall I eat for lunch?  What do I need to get done today?”

So often, clients have never dug deeper into their procrastination and goal setting. Most often it is simply because they haven’t a trusted person in their lives who can partner with them in this work.  And here I am!

THE MODEL

I’ll introduce you to the spin cycle model that I use.

When we have a goal, and our action steps laid out in front of us, there’s something else we do before we even start.

We return to our own mind and enter a spin cycle.  There’s three things that happen.

1.) We realize we are in the spin cycle and get out, fast, moving toward our future goal

2.) We get into the spin cycle and keep spinning around, and don’t make forward movement

3.) . We get into the spin cycle and keep spinning around, enough so that we begin to sabotage our own goals.

 

The spin cycle is a beautiful mechanism that the brain has to keep us safe and secure.  Change sets up an alert system and you can feel the alert system in the form of procrastination, fear and discomfort. When we have an idea, the brain takes us away from it, plugs us into the spin cycle and wants us to analyze it using ALL of our past experiences, stories and knowledge, as well as fears.  The brain knows if you spin cycle, you won’t take risks.  It wants you to do what you’ve always done and be who you’ve always been.  It knows the exact thinking patterns you have that keep you where you are.

To get through the spin cycle you have become very aware of what the spin cycle entails and when you are in the early stages of it.

What are the messages, beliefs and background experiences that are making you hesitate?

We explore this through conversation in a coaching session, but clients often journal or think about it as they go about their days. They begin to have insights and notice things that they were previously unaware of.

Here’s an example of a client’s spin cycle – this client wanted to get their podcast going:

  • “What if people don’t like my voice?”
  • “It’s hard getting new podcast guests”
  • A very subtle, underlying fear of sharing their opinions, shaped by their family & culture
  • The belief that it would take $500 worth of equipment (an all or nothing approach I see all the time.)

The next piece is moving through the spin cycle and out the other side, where effective action lies.

How?

You have to decide that this is a spin cycle your brain is using.  It is pulling up old beliefs, messages and background experiences are outdated, and the vast majority are NOT true.

You have to realize that the procrastination you are feeling is exactly what the brain intended you to feel by engaging with your inner dialogue in the spin cycle.

It is time to discredit old beliefs and put some NEW ones in that spin cycle. I guess we could call it a rinse cycle.  Wash away the old stuff.

It is time to shift energy and mood so that you’re in a place where you get shit done, and do things differently than you did before.  If you want to do things differently in your life, you need to think differently.  

Study successful people in your field.

You’ll see they have the same mindset struggles but then you’ll see exactly what they tell themselves to get that rinse cycle going.

Want to run an ultra, study some ultra runners who share the way they think and see life.  When I was training for a half marathon trail run in the wilderness, I read a few books by runners to understand the mindsets that serve runners. The personal struggles of Scott Jurek in his journey to Ultramarathons in his book, Eat and Run, The humble beginnings of people like Rich Roll

For example, your spin cycle will tell you “I totally don’t have the energy to run today.” Ultrarunners have that spin cycle too but they don’t engage because they’ve developed a stronger belief “If I get out and run that’s exactly what I need to do to get rid of the fatigue.” See how they’ve put a rinse cycle in there?

You can also implement some mind/body/energy ‘hacks’ (I know you wanted a few quick, effective tools by the way.)

Using Tony Robbins’ Daily Priming Techniques

Tony Robbins often talks about this when he teaches his “Daily Priming” technique. You can reprogram your mood, your emotions, and your energy because it is ever-changing. Music, fresh air, laughter and movement are all great ways to shift into the energy of action. Morning routines are also part of this strategy. It is hands down, the best time to prime yourself to take action.

If you are sitting on the couch, chilling, your thinking will reflect that physical state.  If you’re out in the fresh air, your thinking will reflect that physical state.  Think about which of these two you tend to be more inspired in.

The beauty of this day and age is that we can learn what people do to prime their state. Tim Ferris journals, meditates, drinks tea and makes his bed – all practices that put him in a physical and emotional state that prime him for his goals that day. He starts his day with discipline, small wins, self-care and introspection to cultivate an energy state that will serve him in his mission.

When we are taking a new action, we need look to other people for success stories and examples and how-to-do-it inspiration – on face book, instagram, linked in, or in our own communities.  We need to steep ourselves in the tea of action.

It Takes Constant Work, Which is Why You Need to Return to this Tool Over and Over.

People seem to think once you fix procrastination it goes away, not the case. It will always arrive.  Even when you’ve got something excellent going, it will come back, for example,

Getting all motivated reading a book is great – it shows us that what we want to do is possible  and we’re all motivated because we’ve spent some time in the authors’ mindset.  BUT remember, the brain to keep you safe, secure and not moving forward will find something else to tell you.  Here’s one:  “what is the point? Everyone else is already doing it and they’re so much better!”

Then, this locks into your spin cycle.  Repeat.

See how insidious it is?

I constantly have to work against this particular spin cycle, especially with making a Podcast. There are so many amazing ones that have changed my own life. I’m taking the excellent course “Power Up Podcasting” with Pat Flynn and this is exactly one of the things he addresses.

How did I stop being a procrastinator on my podcast? I decided that yes, everyone else is doing it, but nobody is doing my version of it or my particular approach.  A totally random comment I read on the Power up Podcasting Facebook Group in the comments that was an unexpectedly powerful thing I needed – this one mindset shift pulled me out of the spin cycle.

I have something unique to offer, and my style is different from others’. Someone out there will like my style, someone else won’t. That’s okay. BUT someone out there is looking for a podcast with my style to it.

And everybody who started a successful podcast worked through this spin cycle, as well.

I also decided to stop looking at, and following what others are doing, until I work through a stage of the course which is quite technical.  Remember, the brain will jump right to a spin cycle if it senses those three things:  Change, Fear, Discomfort.

I caught myself procrastinating on the work I needed to do by reading through everybody else’s progress. I realized that what works for me, is to depart for a time from and focus on getting through this tougher part of the course and this action which has more spin cycles than other stages. Simultaneously, I am constantly working at breaking down and working through the spin cycle components, putting myself through a rinse cycle.

Podcasting may not be a relevant example though, so let’s jump over to higher education and students, with whom I have worked with for 10 years:

Particular courses (especially challenging ones) are going to activate spin cycles. The only way to move through them, is to be aware of their thoughts, choose to think of them as external to themselves and not engage in them, but also have a few anchors to help them get through and out of the spin.

How to Change Your Life:

I hope you found this tool helpful. This is what advanced time management and goal setting is.  I always tell people that changing their life is a three step process and we’ve just covered step 3 in detail:

  1. Getting clarity on your most deeply held priorities, your “hell yes” goals in your life.

2. Identifying action items

3. Acknowledging that you have a spin cycle that is activated by that action item, and working to understand it.

4. Deciding not to stay in it. Moving through it, and out of it, by developing alternative beliefs, practices, and gathering evidence that refutes it.

 

You’ve made it!  You invested the time and energy to read through this model.  If you’d like to receive a free worksheet that you can print off to work through one of your spin cycles,

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