How to Stop Procrastinating

(with Eric Twiggs)

How to Stop Procrastinating

Eric Twiggs is a certified life and business coach, award-winning speaker, and author. He is the founding partner and president of The What Now Movement, where his mission is to build high-performing entrepreneurs, authors, and career professionals. 

 He is also the author of The Discipline of Now: 12 Practical Principles to Overcome Procrastination, a book which has been recognized as a Global Top Ten Finalist for the 2020 Author Elite Awards in the category of Best Self Help Book. Eric is also the host of a weekly inspirational podcast, The 30 Minute Hour.

In today’s episode, we’re going to discuss Eric’s journey and many principles to help us overcome procrastination.

Eric’s Journey

When Eric was in his senior year at Hampton University, he was talking to his good friend who wanted him to be more serious about his life. “He was all about his purpose and I was all about the party,” Eric said. He told his friend that there was plenty of time to be serious later.

A few weeks went by and Eric didn’t see his friend. Eric got a call from his friend’s mother, telling him that he’d died in a car accident. “It changed everything for me. It really sent me the message that maybe we don’t have the time that we think to do the things that we want to do,” Eric said.

Eric’s life changed, and it put him on the path to what he does now. 

When Eric worked as a district manager in the automotive industry, he learned some valuable leadership lessons. Now Eric focuses on time management, being productive, and overcoming procrastination. The biggest home run Eric has had in his career is publishing his book. It has opened so many doors for him. Because of it, he’s been able to build relationships with people from all around the world. 

Eric loves to help people win. He recently had a client who had the best month she’s ever had in business and she was on vacation in Guatemala for three of the four weeks in that month. Eric gets excited when he sees people progress. One of the main ways he helps his clients progress is by overcoming procrastination.

Principles to Overcome Procrastination

Eric’s book, The Discipline of Now: 12 Practical Principles to Overcome Procrastination, is organized into three sections: costs, causes, and cures. Below we’ll discuss three of the principles and the five cures in Eric’s Procrastination Pyramid.

  • Overcoming Fear

Fear is a leading cause of procrastination. We can be afraid of success, failure, the unknown, etc. The first step to overcoming fear is awareness. Some people think, “I always procrastinate,” but that isn’t true—no one procrastinates everything. Most people always procrastinate certain types of things related to what they’re afraid of or what they find tedious.

When someone is afraid of success, Eric has a formula: be, do, have. “If I can become more, I can do more. Then if I can do more, I can ultimately have more,” he said. “If you’re always focusing on becoming more, you don’t really have to fear what’s next, because you know you’ll be prepared.”

If someone has a fear of failure, it helps to focus more on the process than the outcome. For example, Eric has worked with students who are worried about tests, GPAs, essays, etc. He tells them to focus on the process. How many hours are they going to study a day? How many study groups are they going to attend?

“If you focus on the process, the outcome will take care of itself,” Eric said.

  • Finding Clarity

“Clarity is the starting point of success. A lot of times we procrastinate because we’re not really clear on where we’re trying to go,” Eric explained. When we don’t know what our goals are, we end up saying yes to things we shouldn’t. “If you don’t know where you’re going, everything sounds like a good idea.”

If we get a clear vision of where we want to go, it makes it easier. Eric tells his clients to picture themselves five years from now. If they were to turn to their business partner or their spouse and say, “I did it,” what would “it” be? What is the big thing they want to accomplish in the next five years? What are three to five specific results we want to achieve in the next five years?

Once we know those, we can ask, what can we do in the next 12 weeks to work towards those? “It’s easy to stay on track when you set 12 week goals,” Eric said. “Then you break it down: ‘What do I need to be doing every day to get to the 12 weeks?’ So, that’s really how you gain clarity. When you’re clear on what you want, what you really want, it makes it easier for you to say no to those things that don’t line up.”

  • Making Appointments with Yourself

Eric had a client who was a notorious procrastinator. One of the things Eric had him do was make appointments with himself. Instead of saying, “Sometime this week I need to look at applications,” and Friday came and he hadn’t done it, he would say, “Tuesday from 1-2 p.m. is when I’m going to look at applications.”

During that time on Tuesday, he would treat it as if it were a meeting with an important client that he couldn’t break. Eric cautioned his client not to take calls during that time or do anything that would distract him from his appointment.

Eric’s client got in the consistent habit of making appointments with himself, and now he’s making more money than he’s ever made. Eric said, “People always say, ‘Oh, I didn’t have time.’ Yes, you did; it just wasn’t important enough for you to really do it. So, if you put it on your calendar now it becomes important.”

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When someone says they didn’t have time, it’s usually not that they didn’t have time. They allowed things that were less important to fill that time. If we take the most important things in our week or month that we’re trying to accomplish and block them in, we won’t procrastinate  because they’re on our calendar, and we won’t schedule anything else in that spot. As long as we keep those commitments with ourselves, then the most important things become a priority.

The Procrastination Pyramid

Eric’s Procrastination Pyramid has five things that can help us combat procrastination. The pyramid is based on the trends Eric has seen in over 28,000 coaching sessions with entrepreneurs and leaders. The five levels are attitude, awareness, animation, automation, and activity.

Attitude

At the base of the pyramid is our attitude. Eric said, “Your attitude is at the foundation of your success.” Studies show that for the average person, 80% of mental chatter is negative. This can turn us into pessimists. Studies also show that pessimists are more likely to procrastinate. 

We have to replace this habit of negativity with a positive habit of gratitude. “You really have to cultivate this,” Eric said. “You really have to be intentional about focusing on the things you have to be grateful for and focusing on your wins.”

The first thing Eric gets his clients to talk about in a coaching session is their wins. At first it’s awkward, and his clients often can’t think of any because they’re so focused on their problems. Eric tells them to make a “win log” where they can write down their wins. These wins can be anything from being on time to work to finding a dollar on the ground to getting a five star review. It doesn’t matter how simple they are.

“The more wins you write down, the more wins you have to write down,” Eric said. “It shifts your focus, and you’ll find that when you’re in more of a positive mindset, you’re going to procrastinate a whole lot less.”

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Awareness

The next level is awareness. We need to be aware of what’s causing us to procrastinate. We should also recognize and be aware of our power times. We should be aware of the people that we’re around; they say if we hang around with three procrastinators, soon enough we’ll end up being the fourth. 

When we are aware of everything around us that might cause us to procrastinate, we’ll be able to eliminate those things from our lives and procrastinate less.

Animation

The next level is animation. This level is all about our energy. “For me,” Eric said, “it’s not so much time management, it’s really more about energy management.”

We need to be aware of when we need to rest and recover. Often we’re told we need to grind, grind, grind, but this isn’t healthy. We must have time to rest. When we rest, our energy is in a good place and we’ll be less likely to procrastinate. 

“If you think about the times you procrastinate, you’re usually in a low energy place—either [you have] little sleep, you’re working at the end of a long day, maybe not exercising, all of those things,” Eric said. We need to take care of ourselves to be able to accomplish the things we want to.

Automation

The fourth level on the pyramid is automation. Eric wishes someone had told him this when he was starting out: Just because something has to be done, doesn’t mean that you have to do it. Everyone has certain tasks that they would rather not do. For Eric, he doesn’t like to manage the details of scheduling things, so he has an assistant do it for him. 

Automation is all about setting up systems so that certain things can get done without us having to touch them. It can be as simple as hiring an assistant to take care of the things we would naturally procrastinate or setting up our email so everything we’re cc’d on automatically goes into a certain folder.

Automation keeps us operating more in our zone of genius or those things that we’re passionate about and good at. It keeps moving things forward and allows us to get things done without us having to do them ourselves.

Activity

The last level on the pyramid is activity. Activity is at the top because we can’t get to the top without taking action. However, we need to be sure that we are taking the right actions and recognizing that only 20% of the things we do are getting us 80% of the results.

Key Takeaways

Thank you so much Eric for sharing your stories and insights with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:

  1. If we focus on becoming more, we don’t have to fear what’s next, because we’ll be prepared.
  2. If we focus on the process, the outcome will probably take care of itself.
  3. When we’re clear on what we want, it makes it easier for us to say no to those things that don’t line up.
  4. If we take the most important things in our week or month and block them in, we will be less likely to procrastinate.
  5. When we’re in more of a positive mindset, we’re less likely to procrastinate.
  6. When we are aware of the distractions around us that might cause us to procrastinate, we’ll be more likely to eliminate those things from our lives and procrastinate less.
  7. Just because something has to be done, doesn’t mean that we have to do it ourselves.
  8. We can’t get to the top without taking action.

Connect with Eric

To learn more about or connect with Eric:

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    About the author

    Nathan Gwilliam

    Nathan Gwilliam

    I help organizations navigate tectonic shifts that are transforming the business landscape, so they can optimize marketing, accelerate profits, and make a greater difference for good.

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