Procrastination sucks. Really. It does. We can joke about it and take the mickey out of those who do it but it is a real problem.
It’s mentally exhausting putting tasks off again and again each time knowing that you’re likely only delaying the inevitable. Avoidance becomes an art form but it doesn’t get any easier to live with it.
Here are some ideas on how to overcome procrastination.
Be Aware When You Procrastinate
Start to notice when you’re in procrastination mode. It could be your to do list is full of important tasks but you pick the easier ones to start with every time. Maybe you go through your emails but never actually respond or file some of them – later can get too late. When you do brave up to tackle a tough task, you find ways to distract yourself – need to do a bit of research, get a cup of tea, make a phone call, “I’ll just do this first”. Keeping yourself busy on things that need to get done but are neither important right now nor urgent. Putting things off until you’re in the right mindset or mental space.
Ask yourself why you procrastinate. What is it about that piece of work or that task that is making you want to delay doing it? Why do you not want to reply to that person or go see them? It may be that you are bored and need pressure to perform. Perhaps you are not confident about doing the task but aren’t comfortable admitting it. Could be you’re afraid of saying the wrong thing. Get a handle on why you procrastinate. Being able to understand your motivation is important so you can put in place the right strategies to overcome procrastination.
Strategies you can implement. The strategy you choose to put in play will depend on the reasons you procrastinate. Get some accountability – have someone touch base with your progress or ride your tail to get stuff done. Focus on the negative outcomes from NOT doing what you need to do – write them next to the task. Do nothing on your daily list until you get the most important task done first – eat that frog! Reward yourself when you do the right thing – have a minibreak, a cup of coffee, put $5 in a tin to spend on yourself. Notice and record the feelings you feel when you get things done without procrastinating and aim to have more of those feelings.
Procrastination is not a disease – it’s a habit and habits can be changed. No-one said it will be easy. The longer you’ve practiced procrastinating the longer you’ll need to persevere in modifying your own behaviour. Stick at it!