Procrastination. It can be the death of us. It’s the irresistible practice that can somehow find its way into our habits time and time again, no matter how many times consequences have called for a change. The worst thing about it is that it can hold us back from things we genuinely want in life.
What’s even scarier to consider is that procrastination not only hurts you in the short term, it can have rollover effect. When procrastinating, it becomes harder to do better at the next task, while all the old things are taking up valuable space in your mind.
“Procrastination takes up real estate in the mind,” author and entrepreneur Christine Hassler told Forbes. “Even if you’re not working on a project, you’re still energetically thinking about it. Your mind becomes cluttered and there is no room for the things that make you successful in business—like innovation, creativity, and intuition.”
For those who fall into the 30-more-minutes trap from time to time, to those who feel that it can be a truly unwanted and restraining force on their lives, there are specific steps that can be taken to help your motivation surpass your urge to procrastinate.
The first option you should scratch off your list, though, is the prospect of enumerating all of your issues.
“Making a huge list of ‘things to do’ or scheduling every minute of your day may INCREASE your stress and thus procrastination”, says the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning at Princeton University. “Instead, set reasonable goals (e.g. a manageable list of things to do), break big tasks down, and give yourself flexibility and allot time to things you enjoy as rewards for work completed.”
If you usually put dealing with your tasks in one shot on your agenda, you’re probably wondering what you should do now.
Hassler says, in the article contributed to Forbes by the Daily Muse, that one of the things we can try is forcing our most avoided tasks into becoming habits. Once that is accomplished, addressing troublesome tasks becomes routine.
“Set aside an hour a day for tasks you’ve been putting off,” she said. “A productive time is between 10 and 11 AM—you’re awake, your breakfast has kicked in, and you’re not hungry for lunch. If you can commit to this for 40 days in a row—hopefully it will become [routine], like brushing your teeth.”
What Hassler, who is also a life coach, proposes is somewhat of a lengthy solution. It can take time to execute and impatience may tempt you to not even try. Coincidentally, that is the exact type of mindset that she advises people to avoid if they’re trying to trash their bad habits. You simply won’t get out of procrastination with more procrastination.
Another mindset that must be avoided is the one that has us thinking we “work better” under pressure.
“Virtually everyone who offers this explanation habitually procrastinates and has not completed an important academic task in which they made a plan, implemented it, and had time to review, etc. before their deadline,” the McGraw Center said. So, in reality, they can’t make a comparison about the circumstances under which they work best. If you pretty much always procrastinate, and never really approach your tasks systematically, then you can’t accurately say that you know you “do better” under pressure.”
Most experts advise that you make calculated, pressure limiting plans to tackle everything you’ve put off. But in response to the way some people resort to procrastination after freezing up from fear, others offer unorthodox solutions.
“When you take a dog to the veterinarian, the animal often shakes and shivers,” psychotherapist Jude Bijou told USA Today. “That’s a much more natural response than a human being who tries to contain fear and become very still. Don’t tighten up. Makes sounds and wiggle around and let the energy out of your body. Shake hard for about 1 minute, and then you’ll feel calmer and think more clearly.”
Whatever path you choose to go about your procrastination killing ways, though, it’s important to do it for your own benefit.
“Remember to focus on your own reasons and your goals,” the McGraw Center. Other people’s goals for you are not goals at all, but obligations.”