How to Stop Procrastinating, Get Off Your Butt and Do the Things You Need to Do

“Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion … you have to set yourself on fire!”
- Reggie Leach, ice hockey legend

My dog, Alfie, was a master procrastinator. When he didn’t want to do something, he would find a way to avoid it. At the very least, he would figure out how to delay the undesired activity.

Alfie loved being in the woods, sniffing around, doing whatever dogs do. He was smart and obedient, so he’d come when called. However, that didn’t mean immediately or directly. He’d zig, and he’d zag through the field, stop and sniff the air, then zig and zag some more. He’d postpone going in the house for as long as possible.

Look, we all procrastinate to one degree or another. It’s human nature. We avoid the stuff we dislike or that makes us uncomfortable. Usually we find something else to do to give us the illusion of being productive. Then, at the end of the day, or the week, or the month, we can say, “I’ve been too busy to accomplish what I really needed to do.” And, guess what? It’s BS!

I’ve been as guilty of avoidance as anyone else, maybe more than a lot of people. But I’ve gotten better. It’s taken some focus, some work, and a whole lot of just “doing it!”

The following is a list of some of the things I’ve learned, some of the tips that have helped me get off my butt. I didn’t create them … smarter people than I figured them out years ago. These are in no particular order of importance. Some things you’re probably already doing, some of the others you may want to consider doing:

  • Set compelling personal goals. This is not optional. Unless you know what you want, you’ll never know when you get it. Somewhere around 3% of us have written personal goals and a plan to reach them. Small wonder we aren’t more motivated!
  • Build a plan to achieve those goals. The more detail, the better will be your chance of success. Put your plan in writing.
  • Have a deadline to accomplish your goals. In fact, have several deadlines … immediate, mid-range and long-range.
  • Prioritize your tasks … everything can’t be a priority.
  • Break your tasks into bite-size pieces … stuff you can manage without getting overwhelmed. That way you’ll build momentum.
  • Get rid of your “head trash” … the stuff that’s getting in your way and replace it with positive self-talk.
  • Identify your excuses or distractions. What’s holding you back? Control those distractions or replace them with activities that will move you towards your goals.
  • Put your task on your calendar the night before. Then you don’t have to think about it in the morning. This really works for me. Electronic is fine. I like paper because I can’t avoid it. It’s in my face when I get to my desk. Either I do it or I have to make a conscious decision not to.
  • Do the stuff you’re avoiding first thing in the morning. Just get it out of the way.
  • Don’t try to be perfect. If you do, you’ll never get anything done.
  • Use an old-fashioned To-Do list. There’s something empowering about checking off an item you’ve completed.
  • Do not multi-task. Most of us can’t do it. If something is important it deserves your entire attention.
  • Don’t overthink your actions. Just do it.
  • Get someone to hold you accountable … a coach, a friend, a mastermind group. This is incredibly effective.
  • Don’t wait for the right time … there isn’t one. Act now.

OK, none of the above are easy, but neither are they particularly difficult. Why do we procrastinate? Why do we lack motivation? What do we need to set ourselves on fire? According to James Frankton in his article, The 4 Main Causes of Procrastination Revealed, they are as follows:

  • A Fear of Failure
  • Excessive Perfectionism
  • Low Energy Levels
  • A Lack of Focus

Check out the entire blog here  You’ll be glad you did.

When we really want something, we don’t hesitate, we just go for it. Back to my dog Alfie. He loved the water, he loved to swim. River, ocean, lake or stream, he was in it. When the temperature was right, I would throw sticks for him. He’d swim out and bring them back. Over and over again until I was exhausted. 

Then, one January day we were walking by the ocean. It was just south of Boston and bitterly cold. I could tell he wanted to go in the water and I told him, “no way!” Within seconds, Alfie grabbed a stick and plunged in. As I was drying him off, I could see the delight in his eyes. He didn’t care about the cold. He didn’t care about being scolded. Getting in the water was worth the price for him.

That’s the kind of mind-set we need to beat the procrastination demon. 

Much of my life was spent on auto-pilot. Sure, I was lucky. Maybe I got a lot of breaks. I was in the right place at the right time. I met people who helped me advance. Yeah, I also worked hard. My point is, if I can do it, so can you. Here’s a few resources and articles on avoiding procrastination. Hopefully they’ll help you do the things you need to do:

The following two links are quick and easy reads and have lots of great tips. 

This next resource is a link to an awesome FREE eBook by a Robert Middleton. I’m proud to call Robert a mentor. 

“The Unstuck Process is a powerful 12-step process that explores your stuckness and limiting beliefs in such a way that they let go of you. It takes some focus but not a lot of effort.”
- Robert Middleton

Get it here 

I’m Oliver Connolly, founder of Street Smart Sales Management. If you’re in sales or sales management, check out my website at and grab a bunch of FREE Stuff to help you grow sales.

Oliver Connolly