You can easily sabotage any efforts to be productive and effective when you continually put off things you can do today for tomorrow. Oftentimes, we procrastinate without even realizing it because we instantly create reasons in our heads to avoid certain tasks. If we can learn to recognize these moments in our lives and do something about it, we can win the battle against procrastination forever!
Here are some common ways and reasons we put things off for tomorrow:
1. We figure we can get the job done when it counts under pressure. Got that deadline at work? “No problem,” you think. Last time you had the same challenge with the same client, you came through so you have no doubt you can do it again. Halfway through its completion the following week, you find out this job was harder than the last one and you realize you will not meet the deadline! How are you going to explain this one to your boss and client?
2. We second-guess ourselves. You ask yourself, “Is this how it’s done. Oh well, I can call so and so tomorrow or the following day for advice and then I’ll start it.” You may also question your ability to finish something which prevents you from moving forward and accomplishing a task.
3. We lack the ability to prioritize our tasks. How in the world is meeting a deadline for a client more important than getting your routine checkup when you know you already have heart problems?
Here’s some sound advice on how to not procrastinate and get it done:
1. Make a “to-do” list and emphasize prioritizing your tasks. Then, set a deadline for every task you need to finish. You can use a daily planner or a weekly sheet of paper you can keep next to or on your nightstand.
2. Don’t be afraid to break down each task into smaller steps. For example, if you need to clean your house because your parents are coming over for dinner on a Saturday, don’t wait till Friday to start cleaning your pigsty! Instead, start by cleaning one room a day for 15 minutes or so from Monday through Friday and your house or apartment will be sparkling without any stress or worries.
3. Focus on the satisfaction and joy of completing something. Do you remember how good it felt to get the job done early last time and how much time you had left over to do other things? Didn’t it feel great to do the job right with plenty of time to spare last time? Focus on the fruits of your labor, knowing how wonderful it feels to accomplish something on your task list.
4. Reward yourself. You can give yourself a treat for accomplishing your weekly goals on time. Think of something like a night out at the movies or a dinner for two at Red Lobster, Outback Steakhouse. How about a night on the won with your friends? If you have some icing on the cake to look forward to, your enthusiasm will be that much greater to get it done right now!
5. Get rid of the temptation to put things off and establish good habits. If you can convince yourself that today you will do this and tomorrow you will do the other task, you can start a “follow-through habit” that will carry you through if you begin to complete your tasks consistently.
Procrastination has less to do with laziness and more to do with your thought process being a little out of order! Get your mind on track and control procrastination.