Procrastination is something we all have to deal with to some degree. It just feels good to put something off until later, to avoid something that is unpleasant. But in the long run, this does more harm than good. Those tasks hover over us like a dark cloud, increasing our stress and anxiety, sapping our confidence. If you are having a problem with procrastination, here are some tips for dealing with it.
1. Get specific
Often when we put tasks on our to do lists, they are big, hairy projects that are somewhat vague. For example, you may have as number one on your list to begin a job search. That certainly qualifies as a big project. But where to begin? The sheer size of it can be daunting and discourage us from taking action. So, we set it aside and do something a little easier.
The way to tackle this problem is to break down a big endeavor into smaller more manageable parts. So, what you need to do is include some specific action steps to take when you put the project on your do to list. For your job search, you could add action items like updating your resume, or writing a rough draft of a cover letter, or researching a company, or making a schedule for networking.
2. Make a start
You may have a project or task that you have been putting off because you just don’t want to do it. What might help here is just to make a start. Commit to working on it for just ten minutes, that’s all. Then, if you want to stop, you can. But what often happens is, once you begin working on something, once you have begun investing time and energy into it, you will want to continue your efforts past the ten minute mark.
3. Create a spur to action
These are a kind of if-then signal to prod you to action. If you get the signal, then you do the action. It is automatic. It requires no decision making on your part, which can lead to a failure of willpower and procrastination. It is intended to be a simple reflex action.
For example, the signal could be sitting down at your desk first thing in the morning. If you sit down at your desk, then you will tackle the first item on your to do list. The signal is sitting down, the automatic action that follows is working on the to do item.
4. Give rewards
This is a fairly common tactic people use to motivate themselves. The problem, however, is the timing of the reward – often we only make plans to reward ourselves at the end of a big project. But that may take a while, and not be much motivation for now. What you need to do is give yourself rewards for each task you accomplish along the way to your final goal.
5. Be flexible
You may have created a schedule to do a certain task at a certain time. But you may be in a mood to get something else done. Be flexible and follow your mood.