Of my many talents, not one has come close to my masterful skill of procrastinating. I find myself doing any and all other activity but the things I need to get done. Many of us have what is termed, “lifestyle procrastination”. This kind of procrastination is a habitual behavior of putting of things that are beneficial to us. Why do intelligent, logical humans put off activities that are will ultimately place us in a better place?What is the common procrastinator’s phrase? “I’ll get to it later”. The problems arises when ‘later’ never arrives and before we know it we have missed the deadline, or time has passed and we are still continuing with the same bad habit we vowed to work to overcome.
There are ways in which we can work to decrease our procrastinating behavior.
1. Recognize the fear factor in your procrastination
Often, perfectionists tend to procrastinate and think they never have the right tools to start or complete the task needed. These people may be guided by fear. Fear of not being able to be ‘good enough’ or fear of success. Being mindful of the fear factor in your decision to procrastinate is a good first step in learning to over come this habit.
2. Organize your tasks
Disorganization is the mother of procrastination (fear is the father). Today ‘To Do Lists’ apps are on almost every smart phone. I suggest investing in an inexpensive app which includes a priority section.
3. Breakdown tasks
The best way to complete tasks is to break them down into manageable parts. There are apps for that! Breaking the task into smaller parts helps to increase the likelihood accomplishment. It helps to make the task less overwhelming.
4. Reward yourself!
We all respond well to positive reinforcement. Promise yourself a reward for each step of the broken down task you have completed. Were you able to clean a small area of your house? Reward yourself with a relaxing night at the movies!
Peer pressure works. My friend Susan knows how I procrastinate typing up my blog and so she checks in with me every morning to see if I have finally done it. Sure, it can be annoying, but it does work. Having a friend or family member know you are working on completing a task can oblige use to get it done.
6. Cost and benefit analysis
This life bring both positive and negative consequences for every behavior we do or not do. List the cost and benefit of putting off what you can do today. Trying to stop smoking? How many more years will you say, “I’ll start tomorrow” until you find yourself with health problems?
7. Just do it.
Last but not least, the ‘just do it’ phrase works. If you have to do a project, try not to think too much about it. Just get into it. Start it. Once you start, you may notice that the task at hand was not as awful as you anticipated.
Procrastination is a deep seeded habit. The good news is that habits can be changed. Procrastinating takes more work and won’t be resolved overnight. Regardless of the reason (anxiety, fear, or bordom), utilizing the above strategies can help us to change this habit and better the quality of our life.
For help on dealing with anxiety, contact Oaks Counseling Center for a consultation.