There’s probably something in the back of your mind right now, something you know needs to get done, something you’ve been putting off. There’s a little voice in your head saying, “Yeah, I need to get on that…”. This is Procrastination.
We all procrastinate at some point, pushing aside tasks we should be focusing on in favour of things that are more enjoyable. People generally prefer to choose immediate rewards and delay immediate costs, even when we know the consequences.
At best, it can be a bit of a hassle playing catch-up on things we’ve put off; at its worst, procrastination can be a huge roadblock to achieving success, disrupting our careers and relationships. It can become chronic, constantly worrying about unfinished business with impending deadlines, and that stress can cause serious health issues. So how do we turn procrastination into productivity, and choose long-term rewards over short-term? Begin with these tips.
Be Honest with Yourself
We know in our hearts when we’re avoiding a task that needs attention.
Hold yourself accountable – don’t make excuses, just own up to it.
Don’t let yourself off the hook, but avoid negative self-talk and don’t get frustrated. We all sometimes procrastinate, you’re only human!
Identify the ‘Why Procrastination?’
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Ask yourself why you’re avoiding taking action. Is the task mentally or physically tough to do? Are you afraid of failing at it? Are you not interested or passionate about it? Until you figure out the real roadblock, you’ll have a hard time returning to the task without disliking it even more. Ultimately, it needs to get done no matter what your reason for avoiding it, but confronting the real issue will help you figure out the best way to tackle it.
Visualize the Completed Task
How good will it feel to get all the work done, and what will be the rewards? What other things will you be able to fully focus on without the stress of that unfinished task hanging over your head? Vividly picturing the benefits of that unfinished task being done can be a huge motivator to take action.
Procrastination : Break it Down
Looking at a big task from a big-picture point of view can sometimes be overwhelming, so we try to put it off. Work your way backwards from the completed task, outline all the steps necessary to complete it, then tackle them one at a time. Check your deadline to complete the task, and outline a schedule to work on it one not-overwhelming step at a time.
We know the difference between prioritizing things and just plain avoiding them. We all seem to have more work to do than there are hours in a day, and sometimes the better plan is to put a task aside for a better time, to take care of more immediate concerns. Ultimately, if you’re making progress, and you come back to the task you temporarily put aside, you’re on the right track.
Avoiding the black cloud of procrastination requires good time management, and time management is a skill like any other – the more you practice it, the easier it becomes. So think about that task in the back of your mind that really needs attention, and start practising your concrastination!