“I'll do it later.” Four seemingly harmless words that can potentially steal hours, days, weeks, and months from your most important work. If procrastination is like the cold-sores of productivity, being outright lazy is equivalent to full-blown herpes. That’s why keeping procrastination in check is important. It’s just too easy to form a habit out of procrastination, and sooner or later, you’ll find yourself spazzing out, making it seem almost impossible to accomplish anything.
Why do most people procrastinate in the first place? Here are five possible reasons:
Lack of structure - You simply have no idea how to get started
Time perception/timing - It might take too long, or it’s not the right time to do it
Anxiety - The thought of doing the task makes you nervous
Doubt/Fear - You fear failure or success - stemming from a doubt that you can complete the task well or even keep up with everything that comes with success
Just plain don’t want to do it!
In contrast, there are plenty of things we don’t want to do but do anyway - start smoking, impulse buy expensive things we don’t need, or let Netflix stream an entire season of a show that's just "meh" because the remote is a scant inch out of reach.
So how do we get out of this procrastination trap? We work on changing our habits; Get rid of bad habits and create good ones. Here are 3 tips for how to make procrastination work FOR you instead of AGAINST you. Let’s call it Procrastination by Design.
Be aware of how you may tend to blow things out of proportion. Watch out for that golem voice in your head that says “It takes too long,” or “This is just too hard/complicated!” Then, make a list of other things you don’t want to do and use your procrastination to propel you to complete your other, less intimidating to-do’s.
For example, back in college, I would rather clean a toilet than read a boring text book. The result? My dorm room was IMMACULATE during finals week.
Examine WHY you are avoiding the task. Figure out the underlying reason, put on your big boy/girl pants, and address it head on. Soon you won’t have to worry about avoidance anymore. If it’s directly related to fear of failure, tackle THAT with introspection. Remind yourself that you can’t fail if you don’t even start and you’ll soon be MILES ahead in other areas of your life.
Realize that not all procrastination is created equally. When working on creative projects, procrastination can be a GOOD thing because it allows you enough time to process your ideas. You might also find that you need stress and pressure to perform well. This means working on a project as close to the deadline as possible might produce a much better result than when working on it in dribs and drabs for days/weeks/months in advance. Once I started incorporating this into my process (and stopped feeling guilty about the time I wasted not working on a project) things SIGNIFICANTLY improved and I became more productive.
Try these tactics TODAY and let us know how it goes!
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What strategies/tips do you use to beat procrastination?