May butterflyMay has always been one of my favourite months of the year.

I love how the warmer sunshine allows us to appear from our indoor hibernation. How the barbeques become more common, yet there’s still a lovely novelty attached to them.

And a personal bonus for me is the fact that my daughter arrived in this beautiful month 4 years ago. That’s pretty much cemented the feeling that it’s a great month!

Amidst the fun and play of this final spring month there is also a need to stay focused and productive. Let’s face it, month number 5 is upon us already, and the year is racing along.

The question is, are you comfortably at the front of the crowd or do you feel like you’re lagging behind at the back? Not getting on with things, the to-do list growing and your feelings of frustration increasing?

The summer holidays are coming up and we know it will feel great to enter them with a feeling of accomplishment. With the knowledge and self-assurance that we’ve been productive and efficient enough to deserve a good break!

The most common saboteur of our personal effectiveness is the old chestnut procrastination. Procrastination is a tiresome habit that can ruin great plans and ideas and one that can cause hours of frustrations.

For many, it seems impossible to shake off.

If this rings a bell, read on to allow yourself to break the inertia and fully enjoy the longer evenings whilst looking forward to summer.

The 12 quick procrastination fixes

1. Balance Your Challenge

To get going with a task or goal it needs to be challenging enough to feel motivating, whilst not so challenging that it overwhelms you. This is an important balance, as when it’s not stricken well, we either feel ‘underwhelmed’ and can’t be bothered to start, or we feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to. So strike the right balance to avoid paralysis!

2. Reward v Penalty

Two things make us take action – we either run away from pain or we’re running towards pleasure. For some, the idea of losing something is more compelling and for others the idea of gaining something is more powerful. So add a reward or penalty to your goal – a night out, facial or day off to reward an achievement of a goal or pay money to a charity, offer to baby sit or do another early morning shift at work if you don’t achieve it. If you chose to attach a penalty, make sure you tell someone about it beforehand. So there’s no way out!

4. Start Now!

Procrastinators tend to be time optimists! The potential traffic jam, last minute phone call or getting lost is never accounted for. So we keep putting off getting starting! Double the time you think something will take and get going. What’s the problem with finishing early anyway?

5. Dive In

Procrastinators often distract themselves with the easy or fun stuff on the list. Stop avoiding the tough or boring stuff and get that ticked off the list first. After that, it will be plain sailing and you can fully enjoy the good bits as you haven’t got a bad conscience!

6. Change Your State

When you feel stuck, change something physically to snap out of it. Stand up, look out the window, change position, go outside. Do something to change your mood and your perspective.

7. Pick Your Company

We tend to copy the people around us to fit in. If we mix with achievers and doers, we are much more likely to get cracking ourselves.

8. Make it Achievable

Perhaps as a child you heard the riddle: ‘How do you eat an elephant? One mouthful at the time.’ It’s wise advice and one that is helpful to remember. So break your task or goal into small chunks. Concentrate only on one chunk at a time and pat yourself on the back each time you finish one.

9. Time Dedication

Do you feel you need to have an uninterrupted time slot of minimum an hour to focus on a task? Try using 15-minute slots instead. You’ll find many more and they soon add up to an hour and more!

10. Five Minutes Only Promise

Do it for only five minutes. When the time is up, decide whether you want to continue. If you do, continue for another five minutes. Review and then, if you want, add another five minutes. And another. Soon the momentum is up and running and you’ve completed the whole task!

11. Don’t Wait for the Perfect Time

Procrastinators often think the timing and conditions have to be just so before they get started. The truth is, there’s no such thing as a perfect time so accept that and get cracking!

12. Make a Decision

Similarly, some worry about committing to one course of action or one decision, because they fear they’ll miss out. What if there’s something better around the corner? Whilst you’re stalling, you’re achieving nothing. A potentially less good option is a lot better than non at all!

There’s no such thing as one size fits all, so try out some or all of the above, and find which ones work for you.

Remember that you’re in control. Don’t underestimate yourself! Then you’ll be free to enjoy the downtimes with a clear conscience that you deserve them. Because you do!

Marvelous May!