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8 Ways to Beat Procrastination & Eliminate Excuses

In her 2004 radio single, Excuses, Alanis Morissette penned words that read like the transcript of a counseling session with Dr. Phil: “These excuses how they served me so well. They’ve kept me safe, they’ve kept me stuck, they’ve kept me locked in my own cell. These excuses how they’re so familiar. They’ve kept me blocked, they’ve kept me small, they’ve kept me safe in my own shell.”

Safe. Small. Stuck. Blocked. Locked-Up.

Sound good? I didn’t think so. Yet at some point in life, I’m sure most of us have taken a big bite of procrastination and washed it down with a tall glass of excuses.

Procrastination is a thief that makes a bed of shortsighted comfort and promises an instant emotional payoff, but delivers aches, pains, and regrets the morning after. And because procrastination is a thief, excuses are its weapon. If you have been trapped by procrastination and have wrapped yourself in a thick blanket of excuses, I am going to empower you with eight proven-effective ways to experience freedom in your own life. But first…

Why Do We Procrastinate & Make Excuses?

“I’ll do it later.” We all have said it before. I’m not talking about managing your time and efforts to accommodate a healthy, balanced life. I’m talking about deliberately putting-off the task at-hand because your emotions are putting-up a fight against productivity. Though the statement, “I’ll do it later” is simple, it is loaded with potentially devastating consequences. Understand this: waiting for the most convenient time and the most perfect conditions before acting upon a decision is futile because the perfect time may never arrive. Wisdom is found in the awareness that time is of the essence and that the positive decisions you make today compound into the future.

For example, a young adult who has vision for his or her financial longevity doesn’t spend every penny of each paycheck in order to satisfy an immediate craving. Instead, he or she creates a plan for savings that will pay dividends years after the initial investment is made. Point being, long-term gain outweighs short-term satisfaction. Additionally, people trapped by procrastination tend to postpone important decisions and actions that are of little personal interest, even if they are necessary. Encapsulating this principle, Dwight Thompson said, “You can spend your life anyway you want, but you can only spend it once.”

Procrastination & Excuses on the Inside

Whether you realize it or not, procrastination and making excuses on a regular basis wreaks havoc upon your emotional health. Low self-esteem, guilt, and anxiety are common side effects of living life in neutral. Why? You were designed to be a contributor to this world! Moreover, procrastination is self-deceiving and self-defeating. When you procrastinate, you cheat yourself out of the opportunity to build momentum today by making promises for tomorrow—promises that might never be fulfilled.

A commonly overlooked contributor to procrastination is perfectionism. Though highly motivated, perfectionists may struggle with making a decision for fear of making the wrong decision. The unfortunate result is inactivity and indecision. How do I know this? I used to be one.

Regularly making excuses in life creates as much internal stress as lying because it requires consistency in delivering your story each and every time you talk about it. Instead, Ephesians 5:15 (AMP) offers this advice: “Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people).” Instead of being consistent with excuses, be consistently truthful in your words, thoughts, and actions.

Procrastination & Excuses on the Outside

Simply stated, procrastination and a habit of making excuses damages your reputation, rendering you undependable to those in your life.

8 Ways to Beat Procrastination & Eliminate Excuses

I use these eight strategies on a regular basis in my own life and have seen incredible growth as a result.

1.) Write down your intentions, keep them in a visible place, and break the goal/decision down into small, actionable, time-sensitive tasks.

2.) Communicate your plans to a trusted friend who will hold you accountable for progress.

3.) What you have the opportunity to do today, do; don’t embezzle time and resources from your own organization: You, Inc. Deliberately starve procrastination. Conquer your emotions and form habits that promote productivity.

4.) Carve out specific time to dedicate to the fulfillment of your goal/desire. If you don’t, it will get ignored and put on the back burner. I use this tactic specifically for writing and for practicing my instruments.

5.) Shutdown distractions when focused on the task (phone, email, social media).

6.) Visualize the reward/payoff of completing the task. Additionally, visualize the cost of laziness and procrastination: regression, regret, retreat.

7.) ACT. Do something! Planning to perfection keeps you from making any progress. It’s actually procrastination. Ready, aim, aim, aim is a cop-out. At some point…fire! In like manner, starting something has little value until you finish. Commit to completing the task at-hand.

8.) Be productive, not busy. Having many things to do doesn’t equate to gainful progress.

In conclusion, leadership expert, Dr. John C. Maxwell, says, “Good decisions plus daily discipline equals a masterpiece of potential.”

You, my friend, are a masterpiece of potential.

Question: In which areas of life do you struggle with procrastination? How do you overcome that hurdle?

Photo Credit: ▲brian james via Compfight cc