Everyone puts things off sometimes, but procrastinating is defined as chronically avoiding difficult tasks. Why do we procrastinate? Procrastination is driven by a variety of thoughts and habits but essentially, we avoid tasks or put them off because we do not believe we’ll enjoy doing them, or we fear that we won’t do them well. People may also procrastinate when they are overwhelmed by the complexity of a task or they’re overly distracted or fatigued. For habitual procrastinators, who represent about 20% of the population, "I don't feel like it" tends to take precedence over goals or responsibilities, and can set individuals on a downward spiral of negative emotions that further deter future effort. It's possible to overcome procrastination but it takes considerable effort. Changing a habitual behavior takes a lot of energy, but engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy is one approach that has worked for many. In the short term, some cognitive tricks like the ones above can help procrastinators accomplish tasks.💙💜
1. Acknowledge why you're procrastinating. Why is it so hard to get started on this specific task, or at this specific moment? Are you in fear, too tired or overwhelmed? Remind yourself that even though you "don't feel like it" - you can still get started.
2. Don't focus so much on finishing, focus on getting started. Take that first step. It can be daunting to think of finishing a task. Start with the first step. Once you get started you will likely continue. For example, if you open your email, you’ll likely start checking and responding.
3. Make a list of things you want to accomplish. This list doesn’t have to be super long. Long lists can be overwhelming and lead to more procrastinating. Start with 5 accomplishable goals. Then add another 5. The more you accomplish the more productive you’ll feel.
4. Break down goals into steps. Think about the progression of the task. What do I do to get started and then what is my next step. Try to pick two steps at a time so once you accomplish one you know what to do next and continue to add a new step as you complete each one. For example, “first I will put on my workout clothes and sneakers, then I will go for a run. After my run, I will get the supplies to clean then clean my room.”
5. Have someone hold you accountable: Telling someone what you plan or need to do will increase the likelihood of you remembering to do it. Social pressure is a great motivator. Good friends can be a great way to hold yourself accountable and follow up on your behavior. For example “remind me to drop off the documents later tonight” or “make sure I work out more this week”.
6. Reward yourself and find things to look forward to. Give yourself a point of inspiration and incentive. If I do ___ I can ___. Once I finish ___ I can ____. We perform with a sense of urgency when we are working towards positive gratification. It’s a treat to give yourself something to anticipate and then celebrate when you accomplish something.