There are many causes of procrastination. Our motivation strategy to get on and do it is not as effective as our demotivation strategy to not do it.
We may have built up the negatives of not performing so we are scared of starting. Maybe we have thought about it so much that the task now seems massive. Or maybe there are simply many other things to do that appear easier, quicker or more important.
Putting off doing the task works in the short term obviously leaves you with the longer term consequence. In order to tackle procrastination it is therefore important to look at both practical and psychological aspects.
Practical Steps to tackle procrastination
- Break tasks down into bite sized chunks with short deadlines for completion.
- Create a consequence for not completing to give some motivation.
- Make a public commitment to your plan of action.
- Go through your planned actions with someone else and agree to review how you got on.
- Remember to ‘celebrate’ when you have completed a task, even if it’s just by making yourself a nice cup of tea and patting yourself on the back. (This will line your brains reward systems to want to get on with more tasks.
Adjusting your attitude
It is as important to recognise how you create the feelings that lead to procrastination in the first place. You subconsciously chose to give certain meanings to events and actions. For example thinking:
“I am probably no good at this task, so I am not cut out for this.” Result = you don’t apply effort in order to give yourself a get out clause.
“ I have to make this job perfect” Result = you never compete it.
Challenge the meanings you give to the events and actions and see if there could be a more useful belief.
e.g. If you think “ I have to make this perfect” Ask yourself “What is perfect? Is that realistic? Could it be better to do something 80% well and in good time rather than getting it in too late?”
If you find yourself in the situation where you have been putting things off, make sure you take either the practical steps or adjust you attitude by challenging you’re thinking.
Good luck getting on with it.
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