5 Steps to (Finally) Stop Procrastinating

UPDATED: February 27, 2020
PUBLISHED: July 5, 2017
5 Steps to (Finally) Stop Procrastinating

Procrastinating is the most common reason people never reach their goals. Are you guilty of procrastination? My definition of a procrastinator is a “busy person who does everything yet never identifies and follows through on the most important things he or she should be doing now.” When it comes to those tasks you know you need to do, have you ever found yourself delaying due to one of the following excuses?

  • I don’t feel like doing it right now.
  • I don’t feel like doing it ever.
  • I’m not sure what to do first.
  • I just don’t have time.
  • It’s not that urgent.

Procrastination kills dreams. It’s time to come to terms with this bad habit and take action now.

Destination Procrastination

We all procrastinate from time to time. In fact, there’s this little thing I like to call “Destination Procrastination.” It’s a place you go to or the tasks you resort to in order to distract yourself from what you really need to be doing.

In the beginning stages of my business, my Destination Procrastination was laundry. As a mom working to build my business from home, I could never get anything done unless the house was clean and the laundry was finished. If I had a big task to tackle, my excuse for delaying its start was the house being unorganized. I simply couldn’t focus with piles of unfinished laundry sitting around.

To overcome my Destination Procrastination, (aside from hiring someone to do the laundry) I identified my triggers and put safeguards in place to keep me on task. You can do the same. Take a moment to consider the following points, write down your answers, and create your own safeguards to keep you on track to reaching your goals when procrastination sets in.

1. Know where you are going.

If I tell you not to think about a cat eating a banana while wearing a green sweatshirt, what do you immediately picture? We must tell our brains where to go and what to look for. What is your goal? Where do you want to go? What one thing do you need to do today? Think small and be very specific with these tasks. Then, write it down as a constant reminder of where you need to focus your attention.

2. Tell people you’re on your way.

When you tell someone you’re going to give them a ride, you always pick them up, right? If you tell someone you’re coming, you don’t let them down. Keep yourself accountable by telling others to keep you accountable and letting them know where you want to go. Share your goals with the important people in your life to ensure that you follow through.

3. Identify detours.

Again, this is the concept of Destination Procrastination. I gave you my personal example with the laundry. I know that when I’m avoiding something, I immediately begin to clean and organize other things. What is your Destination Procrastination? What tasks or shiny objects distract you from the bigger picture and take you on a detour from reaching your goals?

4. Know that there’s more than one way.

Did you know there’s not just one way to reach your goal? It doesn’t matter how you get there; it just matters that you get there. There’s more than one way. Don’t worry too much about the minor details. Fight only for the things you know will affect you reaching your destination. Aside from that, just enjoy the journey and be confident that you will arrive.

5. Focus on your finish.

Do you remember your experience learning to ride a bike? It seemed as if the object you were most focused on not running in to was the only thing you couldn’t avoid. I call this Destination Fixation. Our lives go where our focus is. Our brains struggle to process the negative, so focus instead on the positive. Where do you want to go? What goal do you want to achieve? From now on, rather than thinking of all the things that could go wrong or the reasons why you should put something off, focus on your finish and focus on the positives.

Bonus tip: Continually fill up your tank. To stay focused and keep moving toward your goals, you must protect your energy and mojo. Start by surrounding yourself with people who motivate and push you forward, and steer clear of the people who bring you down. Who or what gives you energy and fills your tank? Write down activities, people and things that make you feel good. Then, make time to have more of these things in your life.

Related: 9 Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get Things Done

Chalene Johnson

Chalene Johnson is a New York Times best-selling author, motivational speaker and founder of the SmartLife movement. As the host and creator of many fitness informercials and a regular guest on QVC, Johnson has sold more than 10 million DVDs and currently holds “The Guinness Book of World Records” for the most fitness videos. The Huffington Post recognized Johnson as one of the Top 50 Female Entrepreneurs to watch in 2017. Johnson and her husband and business partner Bret have been married for more than 20 years.