Procrastination is a trap that many of us fall into. In fact, according to researcher and speaker Piers Steel, 95 percent of us procrastinate to some degree. While it may be comforting to know that you’re not alone, it can be sobering to realize just how much it can hold you back – especially in relation to our health and fitness goals.
Procrastination is often confused with laziness, but they are very different.
Procrastination is an active process – you choose to do something else instead of the task that you know you should be doing. In contrast, laziness suggests apathy, inactivity and an unwillingness to act. An example of procrastination might be going home after work to clean your kitchen instead of getting to the gym like you had planned.
Procrastination usually involves ignoring an unpleasant, but likely more important task, in favor of one that is more enjoyable or easier.
But giving in to this impulse can have serious consequences. For example, even minor episodes of procrastination can make us feel guilty or ashamed. It can lead to reduced productivity and cause us to miss out on achieving our goals.
I see three main forms of procrastination as I work with clients in the gym.
1) The “getting started” phase. This can be a longer-term bout of procrastination where a person knows they want to make a change, but they delay taking the first step to get started. There are many reasons why a person might procrastinate on getting started.. fear, intimidation, time, waiting to be in the “right” mood, want to get in shape first, etc.
2) Getting to a Class. This is short-term procrastination, but can become longer-term if a person hasn’t been to class in awhile. The reasons why a person procrastinates getting to class include time, waiting to be in the “right” mood, fatigue, and fear of it being hard.
3) Preparing healthy meals. Again, this is short-term procrastination, but can be a long-term thing if a person has put off building this habit for several weeks. Usually, the procrastination happens because there are so many variables.. don’t know what to make, don’t know how to cook, didn’t plan ahead with grocery shopping, don’t have containers, didn’t schedule time to do it..
Find Out Why You Procrastinate
You need to understand the reasons why you are procrastinating before you can begin to tackle it.
For instance, are you avoiding doing meal prep for the week because you find it boring or unpleasant? If so, take steps to get it out of the way quickly, so that you can focus on the aspects of your day that you find more enjoyable.
Poor organization can lead to procrastination. Organized people successfully overcome it because they use prioritized To-Do Lists and create effective schedules. I have found it helpful to create a daily to-do list and a weekly schedule. Scheduling my workouts and meal prep in my phone keep them at top of mind and ensure I have the time to make it happen.
Even if you’re organized, you can still feel overwhelmed by a task like getting to the gym. Perhaps you have doubts about your performance in a particular WOD and are worried about failing, so you put it off and seek comfort in doing something else that you know that you’re capable of completing.
Some people fear success in the gym as much as failure. They think that success will lead to them to harder workouts, which can be perceived as unpleasant.
Surprisingly, perfectionists are often procrastinators. Sometimes they avoid doing something they don’t feel they have the skills to do, rather than do it imperfectly.
Procrastination is a habit – a deeply ingrained pattern of behavior. This means that you probably can’t break it overnight. Habits only stop being habits when you avoid practicing them, so try as many of the strategies, below, as possible to give yourself the best possible chance of succeeding.
Forgive yourself for procrastinating in the past. Studies show that self-forgiveness can help you to feel more positive about yourself and reduce the likelihood of procrastination in the future.
Commit to the task. Focus on doing, not avoiding. Write down the tasks that you need to complete, and schedule a time for doing them. This will help you to proactively tackle things like meal prep, going for a run, and stretching.
Promise yourself a reward. If you complete a difficult task on time, reward yourself with a healthy treat, such as a tasty protein shake or a coffee from your favorite coffee shop. And make sure you notice how good it feels to finish things!
Designate accountability buddies. Peer pressure works! This is one of the principles behind why CrossFit Fargo works. Having comraderie with your fellow athletes makes it a lot easier to get to the gym when you just aren’t feeling it that day.
Act as you go. Tackle tasks as soon as they arise, rather than letting them build up over another day.
Rephrase your internal dialog. The phrases “need to” and “have to,” for example, imply that you have no choice in what you do. This can make you feel disempowered and might even result in self-sabotage . However, saying, “I choose to,” implies that you own a task. For example, if you know you need to get started with a healthier diet, say to yourself, “I choose to change my diet and am healthier for it,” instead of “I need to change my diet because I am overweight.”
Minimize distractions. When it’s time to do a task like getting to the gym or preparing meals for the week, turn off notifications on your phone. This is something I have learned I need to do. If I am looking at messages and emails on my phone before I head to the gym, something will inevitably pop up that “needs” my attention. If it doesn’t cause me to skip the gym altogether, I oftentimes will be distracted or in a poor mood during my workout.
Get the ball rolling ahead of time. Planning ahead might be the most effective way to battle a habit of procrastination by removing as many obstacles as possible. Do you intend to work out in the morning? Pack your gym back and lay out your gym clothes the night before. Some people even wear their gym clothes to bed so they can just get up and go!
Today, think of one thing you have been procrastinating on. Break it down into the smallest steps possible, and get started by focusing on just the very first step. Once you get the ball rolling, you will gain the momentum you need to see it all the way through to the finish!
Are you ready to take the first baby step towards greater health and fitness? Schedule a free No Sweat Intro to meet with a coach that can help you create a plan that works for you.