Moving from Procrastination to Taking Action

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Information about Moving from Procrastination to Taking Action

Published on February 25, 2014

Author: agirishchandra



Most people have multiple reasons for taking rightful action. They have excuses and explanations to justify. This slide is based on a thought provoking article by HEIDI GRANT HALVORSON on Harvard Business Review (

How to Make Yourself Work When You Just Don’t Want To Heidi Grant Halvorson | Harvard Business Review Feb14, 2014 GIRISH CHANDRA ANANTHANARAYANA CDPRESOURCES.COM | 25TH FEB 2014

Plans. Plans. Plans!  Many of us have many ideas and multiple plans, but no actions to implement those plans  Procrastination is a disease that infects the majority  Most postpone their plans to their deathbed and repent after their have missed the train!

Frustration of Failed Planning  There is a gap between planning and taking action, so most people fail to achieve what they aspire fore  Guilt, stress, and frustration - just a few of the emotions people experience as a result of failed planning  They beat themselves up or engage in self-pity  “I wish I had done it”; “I had the same great idea”; “I wish to go to gym but somehow cannot push myself to it” etc etc

There is Good News  You can make yourself do the things you don’t want to, not just because you are actually supposed to!  You could be much happier and more effective  Right strategy can help you stop putting off

Why Do You Procrastinate?  This is MY opinion on the matter ….  Mind is one’s best friend and worst enemy  Procrastination depends on how one perceives TOSS  Self – EI, beliefs, values, strengths, weaknesses, qualifications  Situations – past experiences, current situations, market conditions  Others – perceptions of others, social status, fear of being judged  Task – perceived difficulty of the task; this involves 3 factors:  TASK TYPE, OUTCOMES, PROCESS

Why Do You Procrastinate?  Heidi Grant Halvorson proposes the following  Figuring out which strategy to use depends on why you are procrastinating in the first place:  Reason #1 - You are putting something off because you are afraid you will screw it up  Reason #2 - You are putting something off because you don’t “feel” like doing it  Reason #3 - You are putting something off because it’s hard, boring, or otherwise unpleasant

Reason #1: Afraid of “screwing it up”  Solution: Adopt a “prevention focus”  Research shows that by adopting a promotion focus one is motivated by the thought of making gains, and works best by feeling eager and optimistic  Anxiety and doubt undermine promotion motivation, making one less likely to take any action at all  Instead of being bogged down by doubt, thrive on it

Reason #1: Afraid of “screwing it up”  Prevention focus - instead of thinking about how you can end up better off, you see the task as a way to hang on to what you’ve already got – to avoid loss  prevention motivation is actually enhanced by anxiety about what might go wrong  When focused on avoiding loss, it becomes clear that the only way to get out of danger is to take immediate action  More worried you are faster you are out of the gate

Reason #1: Afraid of “screwing it up” “There is probably no better way to get over your anxiety about screwing up than to give some serious thought to all the dire consequences of doing nothing at all” “Go on, scare the pants off yourself. It feels awful, but it works”

Reason #2 - you don’t “feel” like doing it  Solution: Make like Spock and ignore your feelings. They’re getting in your way  “Who says you need to wait until you ‘feel like’ doing something in order to start doing it?” - Oliver Burkeman  You don’t need to feel like doing it – throw that idea to the garbage and take necessary action  Most great people pursued what they did even when they did not feel like doing it, or were uninspired

Reason #2 - you don’t “feel” like doing it  “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” - Chuck Close  Take right action whether you got the feeling for it or not “So if you are sitting there, putting something off because you don’t feel like it, remember that you don’t actually need to feel like it. There is nothing stopping you”

Reason #3 - it’s hard, boring, or otherwise unpleasant.  Solution: Use if-then planning  Studies show that people routinely overestimate their capacity for self-control, and rely on it too often to keep them out of hot water.  If-then plan - more than just deciding what specific steps are needed to complete a project. It’s also deciding where and when you will take them.

Reason #3 - it’s hard, boring, or otherwise unpleasant.  If it is 2pm, then I will stop what I’m doing and start work on the report I need to work on  If Karen does not bring up the issue of salary, then I will bring it up again before the meeting ends  By deciding in advance exactly what you’re going to do, and when and where you’re going to do it, there’s no deliberating when the time comes.  If-then plans dramatically reduce the demands placed on your willpower by ensuring that you’ve made the right decision way ahead of the critical moment

Going beyond…  Realize your TOSS and the consequence to it if action is not taken  Task – Assess the task and its importance  Task Type – how important and urgent is the task – prioritize  Outcome –not taking action will anyway result in negative outcome. Taking action may even have a positive possibility  Process –HOW TO DO IT, is often the challenge. We can know the HOW by doing it; without venturing we would never know

Concluding  Heidi’s suggestions are extremely interesting, and different. I took some time to comprehend – particularly the Solution #1, but they are valuable and unique  Most of us have STOPPERS and need to identify and overcome those stoppers – I recommend that you read my blog   - what is stopping you? Create the Momentum you want, because we are Momentum Beings – we are what we set out …. 

Thank You!

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