How much better would your life be if you scored a pay rise, finished that fitness programme or sorted out that problem with your other half? Amazing, right? The problem is, you just have to do something about it.

Description: There may be an easier entry point to your task if you think creatively

“You don’t have to start at the beginning. There may be an easier entry point to your task if you think creatively”

We’ve all been there: it’s a perfectly natural reaction to want to avoid doing something that makes you fearful or embarrassed or that you feel you might fail at. But, if procrastination becomes a habit rather than just an occasional wobble, it can hold you back. You’ll keep treading water while the girl next to you scores the promotion you’re longing for and starts living your dream.

The answer, of course, is to ditch the indecisiveness and start making things happen. Here’s how to get assertive and kick the stalling habit for good.

Where does your motivation lie?

Towards – Think about what it is that you want to achieve

Away – list all the things you want to leave behind you

Description: Stop Avoiding… Start Doing

Keep a note of all that bad stuff and put it where you can see it to motivate you

Find your motivation

Simply saying “I want a better job” or “I want to get fit” isn’t enough. You need to find where your true motivation lies. Most of us are motivated in two directions: “away”, which is where we don’t want to be, and “toward”, which is the ideal outcome. So which are you?

Not sure where you’re leaning? Try this. On a piece of paper, draw four columns. In the first, write your goal, such as getting fitter. In the second column, write where you are bow with your fitness. In column three, list all the bad stuff about not being at the level you want to be – maybe you can’t fit into your clothes or you feel out of breath when you jog. In the last column, put what being fitter would mean to you – such as being able to wear your favorite outfit or beating your 5K PB.

Look at your lists and work out what will motivate you most – the bad stuff about where you are or the good stuff about where you could be? With decisions such as committing to exercise, ending a relationship or leaving a job, the “away” motivation is often most effective. Keep a note of all that bad stuff and put it where you can see it to motivate you.

Go bite-sized

Often we procrastinate because we feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the task at hand. Breaking down whatever you have to do into smaller, more manageable chunks can really help and you’ll feel a sense of achievement as you start ticking off items on your to-do list. If you have a project at work you’re putting off, set aside just 10 minutes to make a couple of phone calls or send an email to get the ball rolling. Likewise, if you want to run a marathon, set yourself a goal of running just one or two miles first.

Choose the easy life

As an author, I know that the most difficult chapter to write in any book is the first. But, no matter what the project is, you don’t always have to start at the beginning. There may be an easier entry point to your task further along the road if you think about it creatively.

If you’ve been procrastinating about asking for a pay rise, perhaps you could start by noting down all the ways you could add value over the coming year to your employer. Armed with this, you’ll feel more prepared to approach your boss with a request.

Description: Choose the easy life

Choose the easy life

Reward yourself

Procrastination is a habit and to beat it, you’ll need discipline and an incentive. Make your strategy realistic – there’s no point saying you’re going to run a marathon next week, but you can write down your goal and be firm about sticking to it. Then, plan to reward yourself when you’re achieved your goal.

If the action you’re putting off is finding a new place to live, for example, you might set yourself the deadline of four weeks to answer ads and visit possible houses or flat shares, and six weeks to move in. When you do move in, it’s the perfect excuse to reward yourself with the new bed linen you’ve been eyeing up.

Streamline your workspace

If your goal is related to your job, you’re more likely to get started if your workspace is pleasure to use. Tidy up your desk or create one with a minimum of clutter, and invest in a comfy chair. If you’re putting off eating a healthier diet, clear out your kitchen, removing all the bad food, and organize your cupboards and fridge to make it a more inviting space in which to cook.

Get going

Sadly, the only way to break the habit of procrastination is to stop procrastinating! Do something (anything!), no matter how small, towards achieving whatever it is you’ve been putting off. It doesn’t have to be huge, in fact it can be really tiny: one phone call, one press-up, one line typed on a computer. However small it is, taking action builds confidence and self-esteem and snowballs until the job is done. Too easy!

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