When I procrastinate, I’m not happy. There’s always that little nagging thought that I need to get something done, but I did nothing to move towards it. Just thinking about working through the task becomes mentally painful. In the end, all that energy that I used to think about my procrastination could have been used to actually accomplish the task.
So, what’s a girl to do? To help us on our journey of happiness, here are a few tips to overcome procrastination.
1. Understand the real reason why you’re putting it off.
Why do people procrastinate? Sometimes we feel like it’s just too big a task to get done. (Like cleaning the garage?) Sometimes other activities seem more pleasurable to do at the moment. (Can we say, “Facebook?”) Or, sometimes we just want to avoid the pain of it all. There are countless amounts of reasons for why people procrastinate.
Whatever the case, we need to come to terms with ourselves and understand the true reason why we’re procrastinating. It’s difficult to fight a battle if we don’t know what we’re up against. With procrastination, we are up against the reason for our procrastination. Once you understand your reason, you may:
2. Visualize the consequences of your procrastination.
What would actually happen if the procrastinated task is not done? Will you be letting someone down? Will you miss out on future opportunities? Will the world come to an end? Focusing on the pain of the consequence may be enough to get us going.
For instance…I don’t like to weed the garden. (No offense to anyone who does.) Sometimes I have a very difficult time accomplishing that task. I might stare at it, I might clean around it, I might even spend some time thinking about it, but I often end up trying to avoid it. All of these time-eating stalling tactics prolong the time it takes for me to get the task done and it results in procrastination.
Now, if I visualized my poor little pot of parsley getting choked out by those nasty weeds because of my hatred of weeding, then the pain of losing my parsley plant is usually enough to get me going. Needless to say, my pot of parsley is weed-free at the moment. Aside from visualizing consequences, another tip to overcoming procrastination is:
3. Avoid Distractions.
Surfing the web, watching television, talking on the phone and texting are a few of the common distractions that bombard us. (Not that I know for myself. Naturally, we gravitate towards the things that give us pleasure as opposed to pain.
For example: Doing my taxes=pain while watching my favorite television show=pleasure. Now, if I decided to do my taxes while my favorite TV show is on, I would become very distracted. Oh, I might give my tax papers a few glances here and there. I might make some little marks to feel like I’m actually getting it done. However, my mind would not be on my taxes.
By the time the show is over, it would be obvious that the distraction prolonged my procrastination. I would still be left with the strain of not finishing my taxes. However, if I just avoided the TV-temptation in the first place, I would more likely focus on my taxes. In addition to avoiding distractions, we need to:
4. Break it down into small pieces.
Sometimes our minds can’t fathom the enormity of the task. Hiking up a mountain seems like a big task to me. Some may not even attempt it because it looks so daunting. However, when I break it down into one step at a time, at my own pace, I can do it. It certainly doesn’t seem so hard.
The same is true for every task that looks overwhelming. If I need to write a report, I break it down. Perhaps I’d brainstorm my thoughts in one sitting. Then I’d outline the report on another. Then I’d write a rough draft on another. Then I’d do the finishing touches on another. Adding up all the small steps equals a great big task done. In addition to breaking down the tasks into bite-sized pieces you can:
5. Reward yourself.
Hmmm. I really like this part. The reward doesn’t have to be big. It just needs to be worth the task you accomplished. It needs to be enough to motivate you. What reward would get you to go through the pain of getting the task done? Is it…going to a movie? A nice soak in the tub? A brand new car? (Alright, got a little carried away with that one.) Think about it. What reasonable reward would be enough to motivate you? (Just to let you know, I intend to reward myself with some sleep when I’m done with this post.)
So there you have it. Five tips for overcoming procrastination. I’m sure you have some great ideas, yourself.
What do you do to overcome procrastination?
Until the next post, my Sweet Friend, good night
The Happy Balance Girl
Copyright 2012 by Stacey Shimabukuro-Lui. All rights reserved.