The brain trick for beating repeated procrastination

by Joanna Pieters | Follow her on Facebook here

You’re determined to reach the next level. Launch that new programme to transform your business. Land the contract to take your team to a new level. Write the book you know is waiting. Get fit enough to double your energy.

But here’s the thing. That project has been on your list for months. And it’s not happening.

Procrastination is real, even when you’re busy

What are you telling yourself?

  • You just need to get something else out of the way.
  • You’ll have more time next month.
  • You’ll have the headspace in a few weeks.

Those things might be true. But they’re probably not.

Your optimism is killing action

We repeatedly believe that we will have more time in the future.

Consumer behaviour research shows that we believe it so strongly, that we’ll actively deny all evidence to the contrary.

Researchers asked people to predict their future time and commitment to using exercise equipment. Their predictions were generally optimistic, so the researchers specifically briefed them,’Please do not provide an idealistic prediction, but rather the most realistic prediction of your behavior that you can’. Rather than revising their projections downwards, participants increased their estimates how much time they expected to spend on exercise.

Unsurprisingly, those predictions turned out to be wildly optimistic.

Two weeks later, participants were shown how their actual exercise contrasted with their predictions, and asked to forecast their time in the next fortnight. Humbled? Downhearted? Not at all. Far from learning from what had happened, their predictions of time they would spend were even more optimistic.

It seems we’re very poor at remembering how life gets in the way, and very good at imagining a future without distraction.

You won’t have more time. So you need an alternative

If you’re waiting for more time to move your project forwards, it’s unlikely to happen. (Although according to the research, you may well be be tempted to disagree).

You need a strategy.

You need to disrupt your thoughts

Determination alone won’t cut it. After all, if you’ve been delaying starting something, you’ve probably been telling yourself for months that you should. You need something more.

You need a conscious way of disrupting your automatic thoughts and habits to turn your good intentions into powerful, effective actions.

How disruption kick-starts your brain

A good disruption strategy does two things.

  • It bypasses resistance by tapping into your most natural way of getting focus and motivation
  • It disrupts your normal way of doing things, so you get new insights and energy

There are six factors in your personal psychology of success. Your personal strategy needs to tap into the ones that are most powerful and effective for you.

If you don’t know yours yet, take a few minutes for the free Vitally Productive assessment, then come right back here.

How your brain shapes the disruption you need

When you tap into the parts of the brain that are most powerful and motivating for you, you’ll find yourself energised and motivated to get things started now. And when you create a new way of approaching it, you’ll create new insights and ideas to break through the blocks that are stopping you starting.

Take that project now. Here’s what you need to do to get it off the ‘future’ list and make sure that in six months, it’s made significant impact on your life.

Disruption, Type by Type

(Not sure what you are? Here’s how to find out)

Vitally Productive works by you tapping straight into the ones that will be most powerful for you. That means you can bypass all the solutions that might be right for your partner, your colleague or that you were taught on your last training course. Here’s what you need to turn your optimism into action.

The Arrow

Disrupt your normal habits by stepping back. Make an hour to clarify exactly what you want to achieve and the impact it will have. Then identify one habit you need to create to make it happen – from regular time on it to improving a particular skill – and commit to when and how you’ll do it.

The Whirlwind

Focus, focus, focus. Schedule a block of time to think through and articulate why this project is so much more important than all the other possibilities you have. If it doesn’t set off that energy in your brain, consciously bin it or delegate it.

The Hero

Find encouragement. Identify three ways you can involve other people in your project, whether as active participants or keeping you accountable, and set up a first meeting, call or conversation with at least one of them. Aim to get early and frequent support.

The Fixer

Collaborate with an expert. Talk through your project aims with someone you respect – a colleague, coach or peer – to help you pin down how you can use expertise to add value. Together create an early plan of action and arrange to check in regularly to keep you on track.

The Sustainer

Embrace your power to do good. Write down 10 ways using your skills in this project will transform things for you and those around you. Then use the energy you’ve created to define your first action, and make a commitment to someone you trust to complete it.

The Visionary

Focus on transformation. Allocate time to write down at least five ways your project will transform your life, business, or opportunities for others – and if you can’t find them, it’s time to let it go. Then arrange a focused conversation with a coach, supportive colleague or peer to kick-start your vision through clearly defined actions.

The Explorer

Get the big picture clear in your head. Map out clearly how your project fits into your wider goals, and what opportunities it will lead to. Then use that focus to commit to key action milestones in your calendar, especially to start things moving.

The Idealist

Revisit your purpose. Articulate your personal values for your project and how it fits with your fundamental purpose in your life or work. Look for areas of conflict with your own values that are causing you resistance, and opportunities to strengthen the areas that are most important to you.

Make it happen. Now.

No matter what your type is, there’s little that’s more powerful than an accountability and a second perspective to help you get clarity and focus. A one-hour Vitally Productive private Discovery session will kick-start your action in a way that’s totally suited to your natural strengths and give you the best possible chance of success. I’m offering a strictly limited number of these at a crazy discount (normally £197). Book your session here, and be prepared for huge progress.

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