23 Aug Stop Procrastination
Is procrastination a problem for you in some areas of your life but not others? Telling yourself you need to be in the “right frame of mind” to get something done, or that you “work better under pressure”, means you are procrastinating about something. Another sign of procrastination is choosing things that are enjoyable, comfortable, or easier for you, rather than the task at hand.
Starting and persisting
Procrastinating may take two forms: difficulty getting started, and getting distracted before the task is done. It does not mean you’re lazy.
People who don’t procrastinate tend to focus on tasks, have a strong sense of personal identity, and are conscientious as demonstrated by self-discipline, persistence, and personal responsibility.
If you live with ADD or ADHD, it may help if you call on others to help you get started and stay on track.
Self-awareness is the first step
Knowing what contributes to your own procrastinating can help you know how to overcome it. Maybe the task is unpleasant, or there are too many distractions in your surroundings or your life. Perhaps you are disorganized, or feel overwhelmed by the task. You might have a fear of making mistakes or failing, or yes, even a fear of succeeding.
“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
It may help you to focus on your goal or what it is that motivates you. Think about what will be different once you’ve done what you have to do.
Reminding yourself of “work before play” and promising yourself a reward after the task is done may be just the motivation you need to overcome procrastination.
Ahead of time, telling a friend or family member what you plan to do may help motivate you.
In your busy life, setting a time or making a date with yourself may help you focus on what you need to do. The first hour of your day might work best for you.
Maybe you need to clear a workspace and get rid of clutter to reduce physical distractions. Perhaps you need total quiet, or a background of music. Do, however, avoid music with words, which can be distracting.
On days when I’d rather do anything but write, I open a word doc on my computer and stare at the blank page until I can’t stand it any longer and start to write. It’s how I reduce distractions!
To help you persevere in the job at hand, use some positive self-talk to stay actively engaged in, and focused on, the work. It might be “I can do this” or “I am getting this done” or “This is important”.
Make sure you have all the materials and tools you need readily available. I stared for several days at some mending I needed to do, but it wasn’t until I put the scissors, needle and thread with the mending that I could easily pick it up one evening and do it.
Organizing your time is essential. Consider all the steps that you need to do, estimate the time, then double that time (most people underestimate how much time they will need). From there, work backwards to when you need to start. It also helps to include some extra time at the end if you have a deadline to meet, so that you have some breathing space if you need it.
Turning overwhelmed into success
It’s no wonder people feel overwhelmed when they think of a project that feels too big or too difficult. You could start by breaking it into smaller chunks to make it more manageable. If that still seems difficult, break the smaller chunks into simple tasks you can readily do.
It might also help if you focus on one immediate next step and accomplish that one thing. Success breeds success. For example, if you are moving house and you need to sort through what to keep or not keep, consider the house room by room. If that still feels like too much, start with, for example, one closet or one shelf.
If you tend to be a perfectionist, or if you worry about making mistakes or failing, it may help to tell yourself that you’ll start with a rough draft – and no, you won’t go over and over the first step, which will only keep you from moving forward. Try to let go of perfection, and aim instead for a high standard for the end product.
Fearing success is more difficult to understand. You may fear your life will change if you succeed, or maybe you feel you don’t deserve to succeed. Notice your patterns of thinking, and turn them into positive self-talk.
I’d love to hear what you do to overcome procrastination. We all procrastinate sometimes. The trick is to not make procrastination a life habit, but rather tackle it by knowing what you yourself need to get started and persevere.