procrastIt’s normal to procrastinate at our jobs. Usually it’s because we’re avoiding a task that’s daunting or unpleasant. Procrastinating isn’t a serious problem–that is, until it starts to interfere with your performance at work. Are you worried, fearful, and stressed-out by projects that are piling up and deadlines that are looming? Is your behavior causing others to feel upset because you’re holding up progress? If you answered yes , it’s time to take action!

The good news is that anyone can crawl out of the quicksand of procrastination and enjoy increased productivity, enhanced mood, less stress, better coworker relationships, a sense of accomplishment, and restored reputation at work as a “doer.” Here’s how.

1. Identify your challenge and goal.
Writing down the specific task you’ve been putting off helps you get focused. For example, “I have to contact all of our top clients and tell them about our new business reorganization.” Now, elaborate on that task. What’s your goal? For example, “I want them to feel secure with the big changes and stick with us through these next few challenging months.” Having a precise goal will get you motivated.

2. Pinpoint your emotions.
This step helps you understand the act of procrastinating for what it truly is: an emotional reaction. What’s really preventing you from diving in to this task? To use the above example, maybe you’re intimidated by the new language you need to use (fear). Or maybe you’re cranky about having to do this when the old system wasn’t broken and worked perfectly well (anger). Or perhaps you’re bummed that you’re just not a great people person, even though you’ve the account executive (sadness). The emotions behind procrastination usually fall into these three categories.

3. Let those emotions go.
Okay, here’s the fun part. Many people don’t realize that emotion is merely a type of energy. Pent-up emotions or energy need to get released, like letting steam out of a pressure cooker. If you’re sad, go watch a sentimental movie and cry. If you’re angry, try stomping around the room and shaking your fists. If fear is the driving emotion, then do exaggerated shivering. Believe it or not, giving yourself permission to let these emotions out will release that trapped energy and you’ll instantly feel “unstuck.”

4. Counter defeating chatter with “truths.”
When tackling a dreaded task, it’s common to have self-sabotaging thoughts like “I’ll never be able to get this all done by deadline.” When chatter threatens to drown out your motivation, try this simple technique. Find a statement that is simple and true. For example, “If others can do this, so can I.” To neutralize your frustration at having to do this task, you might say, “I’m doing this because I want to be a team player and support our company.” Say these truths over and over until they are louder than your negative internal chatter.

5. Break it into a small, achieveable steps.
You’ve envisioned the task, dealt with what’s been holding you back, and fixed your destructive thinking. Completing the task requires deciding when you’ll get started and figuring out a doable step-by-step game plan. Write it down, schedule it, and commit to it. Then go on a mental journey, plotting out each part of the task, including details such as where and when you’ll be working, whom you will talk with and what about, and how long you expect each part to take.

6. Anticipate roadblocks and plan tactics.
Imagine challenges and obstacles that are likely to pop up along the way. For example, other projects with shorter deadlines might land on your desk. How will you tackle such challenges in order to keep moving forward with the big task at hand? For every such scenario, have a tactic ready for sticking to your original plan. You may also want to find someone to support your efforts or to mentor you on a regular basis.

7. Resist and be resilient.
As you move through the task, you’re likely to meet with resistance in the form of excuses, bad moods, and discouragement. Battle resistance with tenacity and stubbornness, and continue to deal with any emotions that surface. Remind yourself that you can do this, and you’ll feel better once it’s handled. Accomplishing what you’re avoiding will simplify your work life. You’ll feel more energetic. You’ll even sleep better at night!