End Procrastination: How to follow through

This week I completed a new card deck called "My Daily Affirmations" that will be available at the end of the summer. It's a deck that inspires you to work with affirmations every day that support meaningful relationships, prosperity, vibrant health, creating a soulful environment, and much more. To finish the deck, I used a tried-and-true process that works. (It's great for overcoming procrastination). Whether you need to complete your taxes, a college application, or writing a book, here are six steps that will help you to succeed:

1. Set a deadline. Deadlines are your ticket to freedom. Contrary to what most people think, a deadline can decrease stress by motivating you to act. Our anxiety about completing a project is usually related to inaction and this anxiety uses an enormous amount of energy. Once you have a deadline in place, it releases this energy and allows you to put it to good use. Set a deadline and let it inspire you to get started now.

2. Use "positive pressure." Left to our own devices many of us will push back a deadline, especially when it relates to those projects that cause us discomfort. Just look at how many people procrastinate about getting their taxes done :). By asking someone to hold you accountable in a supportive way you put "positive pressure" on yourself to make your project a priority. Be sure to choose someone who has your best interest at heart and ask him or her to gently check in with you to be sure you're on track. Also, make plans to celebrate together once you reach the finish line.

3. Set a start date. Once you have a project, a deadline, and someone to hold you accountable, you're ready to set a formal start date. Setting a time to begin a project gives you a chance to prepare. For example, if you have a deadline to complete your taxes by April 1st, choose a start date of March 1st. Then you'll have a chance to clear your schedule, get forms and resources in place, and line up the help you might need before you get into trouble. Too often we plunge into a project without a plan and end up getting stuck or frustrated. Give yourself time to prepare so you can start with confidence.

4. Set boundaries. Think of this step as casting a wide net around you and your project so you're protected while you work. For example, if you need to complete a report for your job, you'll want to schedule uninterrupted time in your office. This might require a "do not disturb" sign on the door, a conversation with co-workers about needing space, and a willingness to shut the ringer off on the phone or avoid email until you're done. Ask yourself: "What boundaries do I need to put in place in order to have the emotional and physical space I need to get this project finished?"

5. Take frequent breaks. In the past when I've coached clients to complete a tough project, they often start with a "push through to the end" mentality. For example, they're willing to work ridiculous hours at the expense of their lives. While this might get the current project finished, it forms a negative relationship to project completion which only fuels procrastination in the future. You'll want to create a positive relationship by taking frequent breaks. For example, when I'm writing, I stop every hour to do something unrelated to the book. This gives my body (and mind) a chance to rest and it allows me to return with a fresh set of eyes. Give yourself a break and enjoy the process.

6. Know your payoff. When the project is done how will your life be improved? What's the benefit of completion? For example, I know from my experience as a tax consultant that people feel a tremendous sense of relief when their taxes are finished. There are many benefits to completing a project - the satisfaction of a job well done, the peace of mind that comes from no longer beating ourselves up for not acting, or the actual benefits like a tax refund, an organized room to enjoy, or reduced debt. Identify three benefits you'll receive from completing your project, put them in writing, and keep them in view.

Life is full of projects, so why not learn to make peace with the process? This week, choose a project and follow the recap in our "Take Action Challenge" below.

Take Action Challenge

Print out the following winning formula. Then, choose a project that needs to be completed and apply these steps:

1. Set a deadline

2. Use positive pressure

3. Set a start date

4. Put boundaries in place

5. Plan for frequent breaks

6. Identify the benefits and keep them in view

This week's video is called "rain choir" and comes from my friend, Nancy. It's a minute and a half of creativity and fun. Thanks Nancy!


(Join Cheryl at the "Movers & Shakers" workshop and earn a chance to either host a weekly radio show on Hay House Radio for one month or host a live online event!)



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Cheryl Richardson

Cheryl Richardson is the author of The New York Times bestselling books, Take Time for Your Life, Life Makeovers, Stand Up for Your Life, The Unmistakable Touch of Grace and her new book The Art of Extreme Self Care. She was the first president of the International Coach Federation and holds one of their first Master Certified Coach credentials.

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