Beat Procrastination and Complete Your To Do List

by Gail Daugherty, LAc, MAcOM, MBA, Diplomate of Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) ®

Gail Daugherty graduated from AOMA in 2009. After graduation she worked on cruise ships for three years honing her acupuncture and business skills. She has a successful healing practice in McKinney, Texas (, helps other healers fill their schedule and has a bi-monthly newsletter with resources to help you grow your practice. You can sign up for her email at

How do you get started when you don’t feel like doing anything? Do you beat yourself up? Nag yourself? Avoid the list? Being hard on yourself will not help you check anything off the list. In fact, beating yourself up is a great way to feel terrible about yourself and keep you from completing the list.

There are times when we are burned out, overwhelmed or don’t know the next step to take. These can all lead to increased frustration with yourself. I have had so many conversations with myself about completing the list and how easy it is and why don’t I just do it. I get so mad at myself and beat myself up.

I’ll tell you that overcoming procrastination is simple, but not easy. It’s simple to set your alarm to 4am. It’s not easy getting out of bed at 4am. It takes one sentence to yourself and you’re hitting the snooze button.

All the benefits of getting up in the morning are in your mind when you go to bed, but they dissolve as soon as the alarm goes off. You want to go to that place down the street and introduce yourself because you know there are potential patients there. You may even put it on your To Do List and when the time comes you snooze that item like you snooze the alarm.

Once you get up you start the day by beating yourself up for sleeping in. All of that is not productive or helpful. There is science behind why hitting the snooze button makes you more tired and destroys productivity.

Why do we do hit the snooze over and over again? First thing realize that it’s completely human and normal to want to hit the snooze. Procrastination is the avoidance of what you fear for momentary relief. Looking at your To Do List is overwhelming. Scanning FaceBook or Instagram relieves the pressure of that To Do List for a moment.

The problem is that relief doesn’t last and the anxiety of the To Do List increases. You have rent to pay, loans that need money and your car needs gas. Spending time online doesn’t bring in patients, but you’re doing it because you are stressed and need a release.

There is a game I play that gives me that relief from my stress. It started to become a crutch to avoid anything that would stress me out. I would play it before bed to calm down and then end up having dreams about the game. How did I stop using the game to avoid getting things accomplished?

First, forgive yourself. I forgave myself for playing the game instead of doing the things I said I really wanted to get done. It’s normal and it’s okay to want to avoid stress. Give yourself a minute to forgive yourself right now for procrastinating. You are just afraid or don’t know what to do next. It really is normal.

Second, talk to someone that can help you if you don’t know what you should do next. You are a healers and learning to be a business owner. You spent years learning how to heal and almost no time learning how to build your practice. This is another good time to forgive yourself for not knowing how to build a business. Ask someone who has done what you want to do for help.

I know that’s something you have to add to your To Do List. Make it number one. Write a note or call someone that has done what you are trying to do with your practice. In fact, write down the name of one person you want to contact and ask questions to help you get unstuck. Do it now. You may not find the best person to talk to right off the bat. Ask one person. Text them now.

Third, when writing your to do list also write the reason why you want to complete it or at a minimum think about your compelling reason why. I’ve read several Tony Robbins books and he spends a lot of time focused on why what you want is important. I’ll take that a step further and ask why is that thing on your To Do List so important?

Knowing why you want to accomplish something helps you visualize your future. Jen Sincero (You Are A Badass at Making Money) discusses the phenomenon that anything you can think of has already been created. There is nothing you can think of that doesn’t exist or can be created. She goes into the whole science as to why that is true.

Creating a vision board will help you reach your goals. Write down your goals. Create a compelling reason why you want it. Put your vision board or image of your future someplace you can look at every day.

Fourth, do something courageous every week no matter how small. Maybe you say hi to someone as they are walking by, maybe you start a conversation with someone you would normally pass by or maybe you walk into that place you’ve been wanting to check out.

My courageous things were to ask AOMA to publish my blogs and to record motivational and informative videos. My videos are available on my website. I have written hundreds of blogs for my Acupuncture website and for other news outlets. I had never gone on camera and talked directly to it. It’s scary every time I record one and post it. My goal is to have 100 videos by August next year. At the time of this writing I have four.

Fifth, create a starting ritual to get yourself moving. Having a ritual is essential to consistent success. For example, when it is time to meditate a gong is rung signaling to your brain it is time to wind down and meditate. The first dozen times you meditate your brain won’t know that sound means meditation. You have to train it just like you’ll have to train yourself to have a starting ritual.

My starting rituals are often dictated by something I do every day that I can add a task I want to complete. I stretch when my patient is in the room getting changed to receive Acupuncture and I do squats or lunges when they are changing back into their clothes. I don’t particularly enjoy doing squats and lunges, but it is a good trigger to get me to do something I want to do.

Getting myself to record my first video took more finesse. Thinking about recording and actually recording are two very different things. I have tons of ideas and things I’ve learned that I want to share. It took me saying “Tomorrow I am recording my first video. No matter what I am going to record it. I don’t have to post it, but I do need to record it.”

I recorded it and I posted it. You can see the first one here. In fact, this blog was inspired by that video. You really just need to do it. It won’t be perfect and you may find a lot of mistakes. You will learn what to do the next time. Allowing yourself to make the mistakes and learn from them is how you become successful. I had a mentor tell me to just get version one out there before you try and make the perfect final version.

  1. Forgive yourself for procrastinating. Forgive yourself for not knowing what to do next. Allow your self space to be normal. Understand the fear is why you are procrastinating.

  2. Talk to someone that has accomplished what you are trying to accomplish. Ask them what they learned, how they would do it over again and what are the steps that got them where they are.

  3. Write your compelling reason why you want to to complete each item on your To Do List.

  4. Practice courage, no matter how small. Challenge yourself.

  5. Create a starting ritual and get version one done and all the mistakes that are part of the process. If you don’t look back and cringe a little at what you did then you haven’t learned. Make those mistakes. You got this!

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