Advice on How to Overcome Procrastination
Why do you procrastinate?
You know what needs to be done. You have a “to do” list. You know how to do the things on it. So why aren’t they getting done? Why are bills getting paid at the last minute? Why is the laundry piling up? Is that your yard or a jungle? I swear I saw a tiger hiding in those untrimmed hedges, though it was a bit tough to see through the waste high grass.
I think you get my point. Things aren’t getting done. Why? You are procrastinating. Why? Because you don’t want to do them, so you don’t. Because you would rather do something else, and you do. So you end up with five loads of laundry to fold instead of one. You end up rushing to meet a deadline instead of taking your time and putting in your best work.
Now that you have identified the problem, what are you going to do about it? There are a few strategies that I have picked up that, when I put them into practice, really work for me. Now I am going to share them with you.
Just Do It!
The folks at Nike really got this one right. Just do it. Simple as that. Things aren’t going to do themselves. Of course, if it were that easy everything would be done.
This is a tip I got from my therapist and there are many cases when it does the trick. If there is something you don’t want to do, just commit to doing it for ten minutes. After ten minutes if it is really still that horrible, you can stop and do something else. You would be surprised how much your attitude changes about a task after you have been doing it for ten minutes. Sometimes all you need is to get over that hump. If your writer's block is real, or you are actually too tired, at least you tried. Now move on to something else. Just for ten minutes!
Shift Your Focus
If you are still having trouble finding motivation to start that ten minute task, try this. Stop thinking about how much you don’t want to whatever it is that needs doing. Maybe it’s difficult. Maybe it’s boring. Well that’s life. Not everything is going to be a blast or a walk in the park. That doesn’t change the fact that it still needs to get done. Shifting your focus can help you find the motivation to start that task that you are dreading.
Make the task less unpleasant by focusing on something you like. Listen to music while you clean the house or mow the lawn. Watch a TV program while you fold clothes. Enjoy a cup of tea while you pay the bills. Anything you can do to enjoy the experience will help you complete it. Think about how much you will enjoy that tea, not how much you will hate paying those bills.
Worry less about starting and more about finishing. Shift your focus away from the dread of starting the task, or the unpleasantness of doing it. Instead think about how good it will feel to finish it and finally cross it off your list. Think of the sense of pride and accomplishment you will feel, no matter how small. In a practical sense, think of how much better you will feel walking into a clean room, or knowing the bills are paid on time. Think about how much easier life is when you don’t have to rummage through piles of laundry to find a matching pair of socks! If you have decided to reward yourself when you finish the task, think about the reward.
Think about the simple sense of relief. About one less thing to worry about. Odds are you are spending a lot more energy worrying about doing the things you are putting off than you spend actually doing it. So just do it already. You will feel better. That is a reward in itself. Once you have shifted your focus away from the negative thoughts of starting and doing the task, and onto finishing and rewarding, it will be a lot easier to do what needs to be done.
Expect to Fail
Don’t consider the possibility of failure, accept it as truth. You are not going to always finish everything you start in the time frame you want to. It is okay. Do not use the possibility that you aren’t going to finish as a reason to not start. Doing some of it and finishing later is a lot better than just pushing the whole thing off. You might never get that block of four hours that you want. That is no reason to not do it at all. Find a way to break the project up into smaller parts. Ten minutes perhaps?
There are certainly things that must be done according to a specific deadline. Make sure you start them soon enough to give you enough time. You know deep down when this is. Use the tools above to make sure you do them.
Keep it up!
Once you succeed in doing something without putting it off for goodness knows how long, pay attention to that feeling. It’s good, right? Every time you complete something, take a minute to really look at what you did. Hold on to that feeling. Use it to your advantage. The next time you have to do something you don’t want to, bring up that feeling. Don’t you want to feel that way again? To keep feeling that way all the time? Okay then. Take that thing you need to do and just do it!
Still Need a Boost? Try reading these.
- Lifestyle Choices: Saying Goodbye To Excuses
Some people have an excuse for everything while others refuse to make excuses. For self-improvement it is necessary to scale a few personal mountains.
- Use a Timer to Clean Up a Room Quick in 15 Minutes
Here's a technique to motivate the messy procrastinator to clean up a room in only 15 minutes. What's the secret? It's as simple as an egg timer.