The 9-Step Procrastination Cure

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Today I’m going to give you the cure for procrastination.

What you’re going to learn:

  • Why you’re procrastinating
  • The 9 steps you can take, today, to overcome procrastination

Key Quotes:

“Plan to settle for good enough.”

“Take small actions and they will build upon each other.”

“I am worse off when I put it off.”

Read Full Transcript

Welcome back you high-achiever you. I'm Kevin Kruse and I'm sharing the truth bombs from my 200 plus interviews with ultra-productive people like Grant Cardone, John Lee Dumas, Neil Patel, James Altucher even Mark Cuban and so many others. Last week I shared why we must stamp out the evils of procrastination. I shared the 4 procrastination personalities. Which one are you by the way? The postponer, the perfectionist, the punisher, or the politician?

Today I'm going to give you the cure for procrastination. Listen up, take some notes, share out the wisdom on social media maybe, I'd appreciate that. First I want to send you a quick start action plan that includes and inforgraphic on procrastination and how to cure your procrastination. It's instant download just send a text message. Text the word "Achieve" to the number 44222 or go to the website productivity-podcast.com.

I don't want to procrastinate, I want to dive right into it. We need to cure our procrastination for so many reasons. Certainly to help us with just life maintenance like getting our car's oil changed on time. Getting our teeth cleaned every 6 months, and dental hygiene is important. I get most excited about sharing procrastination around our big hairy audacious goals.

I want you to finally write that book you've been thinking about. I want you to run that marathon you've been dreaming of. I want you to, whatever jump on Match.com and find the love of your life. Whatever big things that you've been putting off I want you to overcome your procrastination and take action.

Here's the 9 steps. First step is just to recognize it. What have you been procrastinating on lately? Are there certain things, tasks, activities that you always procrastinate? What are you weak spots? When do you fall prey to this problem?

The second step is to reflect. Why am I procrastinating? What is it about this thing? It is just because it's boring and you'd rather be doing something more fun or is it that you're afraid you are actually going to achieve it and that's going to change your life in some way. This is a challenge to your self-identity or a challenge to your relationship structure. Think about that a little bit.

Third, reflect am I over-estimating the unpleasantness involved. Most of procrastination is behavioral, they say about 60%. We think it's going to be more fun to put something off. My own research and others show we are happier when we procrastinate less. A lot of this is in our mind. Things tend to not be as painful or boring as we think they're going to be.

Going right along with that is step 4, which is just, know that when you take action on it your mood will automatically change for the better. A lot research on this and I've seen it myself. Sometimes I'm feeling the pressure to turn in a book manuscript and maybe I've got to do a rewrite and all the fun of the first draft is gone now I've just got to cut stuff out and look for grammar and typo problems. It sounds kind of boring I'd rather be off writing the next book. I start to do that negative self-talk.

Then once I dive in whether that's doing a second draft of the book or creating slides for a speech all of a sudden I start to have some fun with it. I'd come up with some new material or some new research. I just feel good about improving my work and it isn't ever as bad as I thought it was going to be.

Now step 5 this is a powerful one but it's kind of hard to explain. It's kind of tricky. It has to do with rebalancing or reframing your thoughts around pain and pleasure on the activity. Let me do my best here. We tend to, when we think about an activity whether it's going to the dentist, or going to the gym, or whatever it is. We tend to kind of have this mental scale. How much pleasure will we get out of it? How much pain are we going to get from it?

When the pain side lowers that scale, weighs more than the pleasure then it's like, I'd rather jump on Facebook than do that thing because it feels painful, or boring, or whatever. A powerful technique is to reframe your pleasure and pain equation not around doing the task, but on not doing the task.

Let's do the silly example about going to the dentist. Normally I would think about going to the dentist and I would say, well look, I mean, the good thing about going to the dentist is it's good not to have cavities, and my smiles going to be a little brighter. I know I should, but on the pain side it's mildly uncomfortable to get your teeth cleaned and it's taking time out of my busy week. It's going to cost me some money, maybe some co-pay or whatever. I think, those negatives are slightly outweighing the positives I'll do it next week or next month or what are the odds I'm going to get any cavities. I'll just put it off and procrastinate it.

Now imagine I reframe it and I say, what's the pleasure, the benefit, or the pain, the cons of not going to the dentist. Well, I can try to self-talk my way into this new frame, what's that equation look like. Well, if I don't go it's true it will more fun doing something else than going to the dentist. I'll be a little more productive and it's going to save me some money if I don't go. Those are all good things.

If I don't go to the dentist and I get a cavity then that visit to fix the cavity's going to hurt so much worse down the road. It's going to cost me so much more to fix the cavity than just the co-pay for the cleaning. If I don't go for a while and my teeth start to get a little nasty, or yellow, or and my smile isn't so good. All of a sudden that's my ego and my self-image I'm attaching.

Now I realize, yeah the benefit of not going to the dentist it's true I save a little time, money, productivity. The down side is a painful cavity in that chair with more money. I'm not going to risk that, let me just call the frickin dentist and make an appointment for next week and get it done. It's about reframing around not doing an item.

Step 6, this is for the perfectionist out there. Plan to settle for good enough. I know it's easier to say it than to do it. This is something the software industry knows. Engineer, software engineers have this saying, "That shift is better than perfect." The software's never perfect and that's why whether it's Windows on your computer there was Windows 1.0, 2.0 all the way up to 10.0 whatever in incremental improvements along the way. Whether it's an app your Facebook app or your Snapchat app. I mean there's constantly new releases it's never perfect, it's never done.

Take that mindset and when I have to do that with my books, my books are never done. I mean, every time they're published I think, oh my gosh I now think something different than what I wrote on page 55, or I've got better material for chapter 10, or I found 7 more resources for the appendix. I'm always improving things, but now I realize listen getting a good but not perfect out there is better than never getting a perfect book out there at all. I think about it like software, okay once a year I'm going to go through all my published books and update them again. What's an equivalent around I don't know health.

I'm not going to wait until I have the perfect plan and the perfect meal plan. I'm not going to wait until I know I've got an hour a day for 5 straight days to go to the gym. I'm just going to start imperfectly. I'm going to go the gym and I'm only going to do 1 or 2 stations in the 6 station circuit workout because that's all I got time for. That's all I can handle right now. I'm going to start now I'm not going to wait for perfect.

Step 7 this is just fundamental. You need to learn how to take your big hairy audacious goals and break them down into bite size chunks. Nobody knows how to write an entire book. How do you do that? You just do it by writing a page at a time. You just start where you can. Take small actions and they will build upon each other.

As we've already reviewed in this podcast if you really want something to happen you have to schedule it. Schedule time for those items that you procrastinate on. Put them as early in the day as possible so the rest of life doesn't knock them out of that slot.

Finally step 9 it's kind of, it sounds like very Zen but the people who consistently ... All the people I've met and I've interviewed who consistently go to the gym every day and hit their workouts. Who write a 1,000 words a day on their next book. Who whatever is important to them they're hitting it every single day. It becomes a habit so they don't think about it. You don't think, you do.

Peter Brackman is an author, who business author, who kind of instills a lot of his writing with wisdom and advice more from Eastern practices and philosophies. He talks about rituals and habits. You don't think about brushing your teeth in the morning or brushing your teeth before you go to bed at night it's just part of your routine. There's no thought about it, like what's the pro or con about brushing my teeth. I think I'm going to check Facebook for a while and not brush my teeth. You just do it.

That's the other thing once you commit to something don't think about it. You just roll out of bed, your stepping on your shorts, and your shirt, and your sneakers. You slip them on and before you even wake up you're out the door and fast walking around the block which turns into a jog. You're not thinking you just do.

Practically speaking what does this mean to you. How do you cure procrastination? Listen, whether it's the small stuff or the big stuff just say, what am I procrastinating on and why? Am I over estimating how bad, boring, or tough it's going to be? Once I start it's probably going to feel a lot better. I might actually like it a little bit. I'm going to reframe, I'm going to realize all the negatives of not doing the task. That's what I'm going to do is reframe it. I won't be a perfectionist, I'm going to make sure I just take small steps even if they're imperfect I'm going to settle for good enough. Take my big projects break them down. Put it on my calendar and I'm just going to do it and not think about it.

Some people swear by self-talk and giving themselves an anti-procrastination mantra. I know a lot people that take that Nike slogan "Just Do It." The author of "Miracle Morning" Hal Elrod once wrote that he tells himself, "If I do it, it will be done." If I do it, it will be done and that's going to feel fantastic. Just get it over with. I like to say, I like to remind myself, "I am worse off when I put it off." I am worse off when I put it off. That's what the research shows we think we're going to be happier sitting on the couch surfing channels instead of working on that report or whatever it is we don't want to do. The reality is we are happier when we just do it and get it done.

Okay, thanks for joining me on this episode of the Extreme Productivity Podcast remember download the procrastination share infographic, you're going to handy cheat sheet from the last 2 episodes. Just to get it text the word "Achieve" to 44222 or go to the website extreme-productivity.com.

By the way did you know that President George Bush used to read 95 books a year while he was President? How'd he find the time to do that? How can his time management secret help you to make it home for dinner? We'll cover that in the next episode, until then remember master your minutes to master your life.