Updated: Sep 13, 2022
Do you often find your Self delaying of putting things off until tomorrow?
We’re all guilty of this. We have an endless list of things to do and we end up telling ourselves that we’ll do it later or we’ll do it tomorrow. I’m a big believer in tackling urgent and important tasks. Although in order to do that you have to have an understanding of your values and principles, so that you can navigate what’s urgent and important to you.
Your task list may be overwhelming and it’s easy to put everything off, which results in an unproductive day, which in turn can be demotivating and demoralising because as humans - we thrive on achieving.
How it works
The body releases serotonin and dopamine (the feel-good hormones) when we achieve. It’s easy to see how putting things off can lead to depressive states and cycles, ultimately sabotaging our own wellbeing and balance.
It’s important to have a regular release of these hormones throughout the day. It’s why some of us opt to exercise in the mornings or have that afternoon treat as a pick-me-up (coffee and cake anyone?), or even emotionally eat to feel better. We subconsciously turn to these habits and behaviours because we’re unclear on what’s important to us, so it’s easy to drown in what appears to be an overwhelming list of things to do and end up not actually doing any of the tasks.
The good news is that you can start to overcome your procrastination and self-sabotaging behaviours by implementing these three steps now:
Identify what’s important to you
Start by identifying what’s important to you. This can be career, life or personal goals, or a combination of all. Be laser-focused in establishing these goals and jot them down or memorise them. These can also be values and principles that you aspire to live by. Take your time with these – they’re important and will shape each day for you moving forward.
For example, I now know that my work/life balance and wellbeing are a high priority for me, along with my family, friendships with like-minded people and financial security. However, I spent years focusing on my career for financial security, instead of my overall wellbeing. I had to learn to put healthy boundaries in place (subscribe for my top 11 tips for setting healthy boundaries, including my three-step ARC system for free) so that my wellbeing and work/life balance became my focus.
Learn to prioritise
Once you establish what’s important to you, your task list will be easier to navigate, as you’ll be focused on how to prioritise in alignment with what’s important to you. You’ll start to prioritise your list based on your career, life and personal goals, so that the non-important and non-urgent tasks will fall off your lists. Or, even if they’re still on it the important and urgent items will be at the top. As you start to tackle and tick the high priority items off your list, you’ll activate your hormone release and subconsciously, you’ll want to experience that sense of achievement again and again.
It’s also worth listing the important and urgent tasks that you’re putting off or that may require your focus and attention at the top, so the tasks that require minimal effort or thought can be done later in the day. My brain is more focused in the mornings, so I do the heavy lifting tasks early and the not so consuming tasks in late afternoon.
Take action now
It’s also easy to procrastinate by writing lists, prioritising the list and creating lists for lists (I’m not judging you… I’m just saying), however, it’s all about taking action now. You can keep your Self in the planning stage and then you’re unable to experience that release of hormones that allows you to move away from procrastination, self-sabotage and overwhelm into the doing and achieving.
You have about 10 subconscious seconds in the decision-making process before your brain consciously realises the decision. Set your Self up to manage self-sabotage by writing your prioritised to-do list the night before. This gives you the ability to make that decision to dive in as soon as you see the list the next morning, because you’ve already set your Self up for success. If you write your list on the day, whilst writing your list you give your Self the time to talk your Self out of the first task, or re-prioritise the list and push the important and urgent tasks to the bottom. Sound familiar?
Go on… try it today by writing your prioritised to-do list for tomorrow or getting out of bed earlier in the tomorrow morning. Just make the decision and do it immediately.
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