Procrastination has the power to keep you from enjoying and succeeding in your life and career.
It robs you of positive self-esteem. Left unchecked, it can derail your intentions and aspirations.
Here are 5 easy hacks to overcome excessive procrastination in your life that you can start using today.
1. It’s OK to be OK.
Many folks who endulge in procrastination (myself included) get hung up on “I can’t do it unless I can do it perfectly.” Liken this to taking a test in school – the student may think to herself, “I can’t get an A on this test, so I refuse to do it.” This choice results in an F on the test. On the other hand, she might more rationally think to herself, “I know I’m not going to do well on this test but I’ll give it my best shot.” This decision usually results in being average. Would you rather have a C or an F on that test? Sometimes we just need to give ourselves permission to give a C performance.
Megan Bruneau, writing for Forbes Magazine says, “Because we have unrealistically, inflexibly high expectations for ourselves, we feel overwhelmed and paralyzed. We don’t want to make a mistake or screw up. One of the easiest ways to prevent perfectionism-related procrastination is to aim for “good enough”–75% or 80%. You know that saying “Perfect is the enemy of good?” Truth: If every time I sat down to write an article, I tried to write THE BEST article I’ve ever written, I’d never produce a thing. Aiming for “good enough” empowers me to actually press the Publish button. “
“Done is better than perfect.” — Sheryl Sandberg
2. Schedule deadline reminders.
If you know something is due on Friday, plug several reminders during the week into your smart phone or planner. This will remind you to get started, or to schedule time to work on it.
If necessary, schedule several reminders for each day leading up to the deadline. Tell yourself in advance you’re only allowed to ignore one of those reminders. Then hold yourself accountable to act on the rest. You may surprise yourself and actually finish ahead of schedule.
Wouldn’t finishing early feel great?
3. Get some fresh air.
Often the culprits at the heart of procrastination are that we’re mentally fatigued, bored or unmotivated to continue working — or even to start a difficult task. Research shows us that taking a walk outdoors, looking at plants and trees, breathing deeply, listening to birds, or even children playing in the playground has the power to help us regain alertness and mental clarity. It enables us to regain focus when we get back to our office. According to a University of Michigan study, psychology researchers “found memory performance and attention spans improved by 20 percent after people spent an hour interacting with nature.”
Lifehack.org states that “Science has shown that going out into the wild and enjoying nature can double or even triple your brain activity and get your creative juices flowing. Set work aside when you feel overwhelmed with a task and get something like a twenty minute walk or so outdoors. It will do you a lot of good, boost your fitness levels, and strengthen your willpower to get stalled projects moving again.”
4. The Old-Fashioned Pros and Cons List.
You already know how to do this.
What are the pros to my procrastinating this activity? I can watch more TV. I can surf Facebook longer.
What are the cons? I will feel more anxiety. I may sleep poorly tonight worrying about it.
What are the pros to getting it done? I will feel like a burden has been lifted from my shoulders. I will feel better about myself.
Cons of getting this done? That’s funny – I can’t think of any cons for getting it done.
5. Reward your successes.
Procrastinators often don’t allow themselves rewards. This ties into the perfectionism trap – “If I didn’t do something perfectly, why should I deserve a reward?”
Throw that idea out the window! Just getting through a challenging activity, no matter how small, is a big win. Treat it as such – whether writing it in a journal, or on your whiteboard or on a steno pad, make a list of all your accomplishments during the week. Sort of a post-to-do list. Give yourself a pat on the back, or a bubble bath or treat yourself to whatever activity makes you really happy. Indulge yourself when you accomplish something you really didn’t want to do.
Dale Carnegie said,
“Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”
Be kind to yourself – give yourself some credit!
By approaching tough and/or dreaded tasks a little differently, you can change negative behaviors into good habits that will serve you in positive ways and put you on the path to success in all that you do.
Thank you for reading and I would love to hear any tips and tricks you may have to share for overcoming the urge to procrastinate.
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