Procrastination is a seriously bad habit that so many of us have. There are many arguments about why we do it: maybe boredom, fear of failure or even perfectionism can lead to procrastination. Some argue that your future and present selves are battling with instant and delayed gratification. Or maybe, procrastination is just a tool to create more drama in your life.
Regardless of the reason for your procrastination, it’s never good enough to waste your precious minutes and hours, so it’s time to stop!
First we’re going to ask ourselves what we get out of our procrastination. Every action in life has a reaction and procrastination is no different.
It may be a sense of enjoyment because in procrastinating one task, we’re rewarding ourselves with something we’d rather do. Or maybe we just hate whatever we’re procrastinating or just not good at the task and we’re happy enough just not doing it. Maybe we need the sense of urgency to finish the task.
So what’s the fix? Well, I don’t truly believe there is a complete fix, but there are tips and tricks that you can use to help decrease your procrastination. Many of us think we just need to give ourselves a good kick in the pants and get on with it, but it’s not often that easy. Instead try out some of the tips below and remember that the best you can do is take baby steps in the right direction.
If there’s a task you absolutely hate then rewards are a great motivator. Plan an appropriate reward to match the task. Of course it goes without saying that you only get the reward once you’ve completed the task.
For me, the garden is a nightmare. It takes up valuable weekend time and I can procrastinate mowing the lawn for up to a month. So, I bundle the garden with a promise to myself that once it’s done, I’ll take myself out to breakfast at my favourite local café.
Hate exercise? Plan to do it three times a week for a month and at the end you get a new workout wardrobe, or a weekend away. You get the idea. Match the task to an appropriate reward and you’ll finish the hated task faster to get to the reward.
If you have regular tasks you frequently procrastinate, then forming good habits around these tasks will be a life changer.
For daily or weekly tasks, try doing them at the same time every day or week. Initially you may need to leave yourself a sticky note on the fridge or set an alarm, but eventually it will become so commonplace to do the task at the set time that you will just get it done without a second thought.
Another great example is exercise. If you constantly put off your workouts, get into the habit of doing it with a friend. Plenty of studies demonstrate the success of social exercise and forming a habit like this will mean you’re more likely to get your sweat on. Plus having a friend with you keeps you accountable and less likely to procrastinate.
You have to be deliberate when planning habits around tasks you procrastinate or you’re likely to fail. Ensure your habits are realistic; give you enough time to get your task done, make sure it’s a time that works and set yourself up for success.
MATCH LOVE WITH HATE
This is similar to the reward system, but instead we’re going to match the task you hate with something you love to do in order to motivate you.
Hate vacuuming or cleaning the house? This is one of the worst things to procrastinate because before you know it the house is a mess! Instead, throw on your favourite music and turn cleaning into a house party!
If your osteopath has given you exercises you hate doing and you have a TV show you love to watch, do the exercises while watching your show.
This is a type of habit forming, so think carefully about the tasks you’ll pair together to ensure success. You may need to be strict with yourself that you can’t have one without the other, otherwise you’ll end up procrastinating again.
USE TASK LISTS
This is a great way to start any day, regardless of whether you’re including tasks you procrastinate or not. I do one everyday and find it helps with my productivity and honestly, it’s really satisfying being able to tick off each task!
You can really have a list as long as you like but five should really be the maximum, especially if there are tasks on there which you would normally procrastinate. You can always start a new list if you fly through your first one.
A shorter list will also lead to you more success. Bundle the things you procrastinate alongside tasks that you can complete easily and just hunker down to get it all done. Once finished, you can have a reward or feel inspired and start a new list.
LOOK FOR VALUE
There are some things that we need to get done which just don’t seem high on our priorities list and so we procrastinate them. Over time these things can become more of an issue as you put them off more and more the potential fall out grows.
We can turn these things around by making it seem more important, finding the value in it or drawing a link to something you really want to do.
A great example of this is anything financial. Maybe you need to finish your tax or go through your credit card statement and it just doesn’t seem pressing. Over time your credit card balance may build, or it gets closer to the tax deadline, but you just keep procrastinating.
In this example, you can turn it around and associate it with anything you want which requires money (so many things!). Maybe an upcoming holiday, a new big ticket item or even just having a priority of being more financially responsible.
Here, you can link the task you hate to something like the power of money, which brings with it something you value, something you may want to do or something important. So you’ll go through your credit card or you’ll finish your tax because now it represents your holiday, the item you want to buy or your new fiscal responsibility.
The last tip I have for you is simple awareness. Knowing the things you procrastinate alone may help reduce your time procrastinating. Reading this blog might help!
A great thing to do is to sit down for five minutes and list the tasks you hate doing or commonly delay. Think for a minute about why and whether the procrastination is worth it and whether your time can be better spent. Jot down a strategy next to each which can help prevent or reduce your procrastination. You can add to this list over time and revisit the strategy you’ve written down when it’s next time for that task.
Do you have more strategies or ideas on how to prevent procrastination? I’d love to know about them….