• Emma Nuttall

The power of ritual

Updated: 4 days ago

An antidote to procrastination

Do you struggle to get out of bed some mornings, too tired to face a sink full of last night’s dirty dishes, unmanageable work deadlines and mountains of household chores?


You can’t count the times you’ve joined an online program, gone out and purchased all the necessary equipment and headed to bed early, pumped to wake up the next morning and smash your goals. However, when the alarm goes off, the workout gear stays in the cupboard or the laptop remains unopened, while you stay in bed.


You want to get motivated and find a way to enjoy your day but it’s challenging when all that stretches before you is a long list of difficult or monotonous tasks.

Using ritual can be a powerful way of bringing meaning to the mundane or pushing through overwhelm and creative blocks. Ritual can be used to reinforce healthy behaviours, savour important moments and find solid ground in times of stress.

What is ritual?

Ritual is a series of actions performed in a prescribed order. It involves bringing intent to a task or activity so you can be fully engaged and present from beginning to end. Ritual often involves symbolic objects and repetitive actions. It can incorporate faith or tradition or be a portal for greater focus or creativity.


Ritual can offer a sense of structure or predictability that counteracts stress and anxiety, or it can simply provide a mindful moment in your day.


How is ritual different from routine?

Routine involves repetitive actions that are generally performed on autopilot whereas ritual grounds you in the moment by turning your attention away from your thoughts and to the task at hand. Turning routine tasks into rituals brings about a change of energy that allows you to connect more deeply.


Ritual can provide unexpected moments of meaning in simple everyday activities.

Reframing mundane chores as an opportunity to practice mindfulness or creating a bedtime ritual that improves the quality of your sleep, can have flow on effects for your wellbeing.


How does ritual help with procrastination?

Fear and overwhelm often hold you back from completing a project. You associate a certain task with being stressful and therefore avoid the task in order to avoid the stress. The problem is that by continuing to procrastinate, your stress builds and amplifies as the deadline looms closer. When you find yourself in the throes of procrastination, ritual can help you fight your way out.


If your mind is hijacked by stress or fogged up with fear, it can be extremely difficult to focus. A ritual sets up a trigger that engages your mind.


I follow a ritual every time I sit down to write. Before I begin, I can be bombarded by a plethora of fears attempting to lure me down a rabbit hole of procrastination. I may not have a concrete idea of what I am going to write about or am concerned my words won’t hit the mark. Instead of letting negative thought patterns take me on a long ride to procrastination town, I use my tried and trusty ritual.


I do a short meditation then focus for a few minutes on my ideal reader. I think about their challenges and how my words could help them. Then I light a candle, state my intention and start writing.


Some of what I type is nonsensical but in a short amount of time, the words start taking form and something emerges out of the copy. It’s rough and needs work but there is always a spark of an idea that can be edited into something worthwhile. How to perform ritual


Keep it simple

Ritual doesn’t have to be an hour-long ceremony with multiple steps. It can be as simple as preparing your space, setting out your equipment the night before or saying three simple mantras before commencing a task.


Engage your senses

Using your senses gets you out of your mind and into your body. Ground yourself by taking in the aroma of a fragrant candle, savouring the warmth and bitter taste of a freshly brewed coffee or feeling the smooth coolness of a crystal placed in the palm of your hand.


Use symbolic objects

Incorporating objects or touchstones that have special meaning to you, can bring a sense of calm or invoke a desired emotion prior to attempting a task. I like to light a candle. You may choose to wear a lucky piece of clothing, place a symbolic object in your workspace or look at an inspirational image or photograph prior to starting.


Visualise the end goal

Visualisation helps to see yourself at the end. Visualise what it will look like and what it will feel like when you have completed the task. You may also like to visualise another person who will be positively impacted by your project.


Ritual triggers behaviour change. It enables a deeper level of focus, providing you with more opportunities to complete tasks and achieve your goals. Ritual can help you find space to be more creative, appreciate the simple things and find moments of mindfulness in an otherwise busy day.


If you are ready to master your mindset, stop procrastinating and step into your potential, check out my online course 'Make It Happen!'


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