Maira Salazar

Your no-bullshit guide to beat procrastination

Oh yeah, today is THE day! I’m going to make every second count, and I’ll build my perfect life. Starting with this podcast episode on How to boost your creativity, reading this article on How to lose fat in 90 days and creating my 2-years goal planning.

Sounds familiar? Please tell me if it doesn’t, cause then I’ll know I’m just weird.

I hope that at least some of you have been though days like this, though. Really. Not that I want you all to be over-planners like me, but I don’t want to feel alone either.

Now that we have clarified this, let’s move on!

Ok, so the first paragraph is a pretty accurate example of one of my biggest challenges. Too much planning, too little action.

But why is it bad – read: dangerous?

Because, my dear fellows, procrastination is a bitch. And it’s procrastination, and not simply planning, that is holding your action back.

Say what?

When we are stuck in a cycle of planning, reading, gathering information… We are just postponing the moment of action. And, when we eventually get to acting, it’s normally short-lived. So we go back to the planning stage, adjusting deadlines, reading other materials, listening to other podcasts. And, once again, the actual doing is delayed.

Take this website as an example. Do you know since when I had the idea of having a blog? Since 2010. 2010!!!! 8 years ago, I was already thinking about it. That’s also when I started planning, reading other blogs on How to start your own blog and watching a YouTube video called Become a blogger today. I knew that having an online presence was something aligned with all of my future goals. I planned. I learned. But did I actually started writing? Unless we are counting the ridiculous, half-page posts I never finished, which we are not… you know the answer.

This procrastination, hidden under the disguise of planning, is tricky, though. It’s easy to see it as only preparing oneself, getting ready to act with more accuracy, more focus and less distraction. We feel pretty proud of ourselves because we are doing something in the directions of our goals.

But are we really, now?

Yes, planning is important. It’s the basis for our advances. But it is not actually an action: we’re not doing something when we are planning. I have several docs in my computer – dated all the way back 2010 up to this year – with article ideas. Just lists full of ideas. But no articles. I can even picture myself, at the moment I was writing down one of those ideas, feeling so inspired and so ready to conquer the internet. I would lie to myself and be all proud that I was doing something towards my goals. Of course, I never actually acted upon it, and the lists just sat there, waiting.

Don’t lie to yourself, as I did.

Even if you don’t follow my advice and lie to yourself… well, the time will come when you won’t believe the lie anymore. Because that sense of accomplishment we get when we plan and replan will start to fade away. And it will be replaced by a dreadful sense of being stuck. More and more often we get the feeling of wasting our time in something as thin as air, something that we can’t see, something that doesn’t add value.

Ideas are amazing, that’s true. Intentions are too. But guess what: plans don’t get us anywhere. They don’t magically transform in results.

Ideas, and intentions and plans, without action, really are valueless.

Are you feeling down yet?

Sorry, not my intention! Ok, maybe a little. But worry not, I’m here to help you to turn this thing around. The same way I’m doing it.

And yes, I’m doing. I don’t proclaim to be an expert, a life coach, or anything similar. But everything in this article is taken from my own life. I’ve experienced it all, and I’m still working, slowly, to improve.

So hold on to your hats, because I have some bombastic tips!

1. Be honest with yourself. Be BRUTALLY honest.

Procrastination is a sweet-talking son of a gun. To counteract that, be all bad cop on yourself. It’s not easy, I know. It sucks big time to tell you the things you’d hate to tell someone else. But you will thank me later.

Start by identifying how your over-planning is killing your advances. Remember how many times you propose to do something, only to fail and go back to planning.

Finally, open up your eyes to the implacable truth: if you keep doing this, you’re never, EVER, accomplishing anything that matters to you.


2. Start today.

It doesn’t matter what your goal is, you know there is something you can do today to go in its direction. And no, I don’t mean reading another article on How to…, nor watching a YouTube tutorial. What is the action you can do today?

It may be purchasing the domain for your website. It may be writing your first entire article. It may be going for a 20-minutes run. It may be calling or sending an email that person who can mentor you.

Every single item on this list is important. However, if you are going to conquer this over-planning issue, #2 is definitely something to have in mind every day.

Oh, and don’t stop on today! Start now, but keep doing at least one actionable thing every day. It’s scary; a voice in your head keeps telling you that you’d better plan a little, write everything down before starting, read some more resources… But, trust me, you’ll learn much more by doing it, rather than reading about it.

3. Plan. Just a little bit.

What?? But wasn’t planning the whole problem, you might ask. Yes and no.

You see, once you get in motion, the urge to procrastinate diminishes a little. And as you act, a little every day, the procrastination gets weaker and weaker.

After approximately a week of that, you’ll feel more confident about what you’re doing. After a week of writing for this blog, every single day, I sat down to plan everything for the first time. Well, at least the real first time. By then, I was already feeling so fulfilled by seeing results, seeing words that I had myself written, that I knew I wouldn’t postpone it again.

So, what does Plan just a little mean? It means creating an overview of your projects. Where do I want to get? What are some intermediate steps to get there? That’s all. You don’t need a week-by-week breakdown, with a perfectly detailed timeline. Just a bit of guideline to where you’re heading.

4. Be selective with your resources

One of my preferred ways of procrastinating – and that fell into the over-planning category – was reading and bookmarking resources to prepare me for what I wanted to do.

I had this huuuuge bookmark folder with all the texts, videos and podcasts episodes on how to become a content writer, SEO, social media marketing and whatnot. Not only that, but I would spend hours adding more links to it and then… This is the worst part, then I would waste precious time organizing them by days of study. The idea was, every day I would read the link in each subfolder, and BAM – I would be ready to write the best articles in the world. After I was done with all 26 subfolders, that is.

Needless to say, I never actually read any of it. The problem is that the quantity of information I had there was so overwhelming! And still, I spent my days adding more content to it. I would think, there is more information out there for learning to write good articles. I needed to find them. And of course, I HAD to read everything BEFORE I started my blog. So, you see… if I kept in that path, I would never be here writing this.

Figure 1: evidence that, yes, I had a problem. A big problem.

What I want to say is, there are great resources out there, and they can help you so much. But don’t hoard them. Rather, choose 1, only 1 source for now. After you start doing one actionable thing a day, every day, you are allowed to read and study. But only after, ok?

5. Reevaluate

Wait at least a month before getting to this stage.

Do you have it clear that your over-planning is suffocating your dreams?

Are you doing something towards your goal, every single day?

Did you plan, rather loosely, the guidelines for your project?

Are you learning something useful for your path towards your goals, after you act?

If you answered yes to all of the questions above and you have been doing it for, at the minimum, 30 days…

Than you revaluate. You can sit down and properly plan. Look at where you were when you started. Where you are now. Where you want to get. Have you been increasing the impact of everyday action? How can you increase it?

You can set stricter deadlines, select some more resources you’d like to use (still, don’t go overboard), define the next steps. Really give it some time, because you won’t be doing it again so soon. My advice: don’t revaluate in less than 15 days. Revaluating and replanning once every month works best for me.

Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

I’m so proud of you for reading up to here! I know it’s not the easiest read, especially when you know this is something that affects your life.

I hope this was a slap in your face. If it wasn’t, then I didn’t achieve my purpose. But I also hope it was a helping hand, with effective and real steps I took to be here, actually publishing my articles in this site.

Just doing this is a dream come true. The fact that I finally got out of the static state of constant procrastination, fills my heart with joy. My objective is that you can feel the same way, sooner rather than later. That you feel empowered by your capacity of action. That you know that you too can be the catalyst of your dreams. And that’s enough getting sensible for today.

OH! BIG, BIG, BIG NOTE: don’t you dare read this as another resource for procrastinating less. As part of your planning. No, no and no. You have to read this and act. Today. Now. Then you can come back here in a month and tell me how it went. Do we have a deal?

If this was helpful to you in anyway, please let me know!

Big hugs <3

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