Last week I wrote about the most common causes of procrastination: negative perceptions of the task, poor time management or organization, feeling overwhelmed, low self-confidence, distractions, and perfectionism. Now it’s time we get to solutions for your procrastinating!
When you identify what’s causing your procrastination, it’s easier to find the right solution.
Problem: Negative perceptions of the task
Solution: Procrastinators focus on the negative aspects of the task (it’s difficult, it’s boring, I don’t know how to do it). By recognizing this type of negative thinking, you can change it to focus on more positive or realistic aspects of the task (I like learning new things, it’s a good opportunity, it probably won’t take as long as I think).
Problem: Time management/organization
Solution: There are lots of great tools to help organization and time management such as calendars, to-do lists, reminders or alerts. You can find high-tech apps for many of these things or go old school with a post-it note on your refrigerator.
Procrastinators also find it helpful to start with the most challenging task first and commit to a certain amount of time, such as 15 minutes, to help get them started.
Rewarding yourself for beginning and completing tasks can also be motivating.
Solution: Working on your organization and creating a plan for getting things done can also decrease overwhelm.
If the task is optional/negotiable, procrastination may be a sign that you’ve taken on too much and you actually need to push back on some of your commitments.
Solution: Remind yourself about past successes, especially on similar tasks/projects.
Try focusing on the process, not just the outcome.
Solution: Identify your most common distractions and make it as hard as possible to do them (put your phone in a drawer in another room, uninstall Candy Crush, take the batteries out of the remote control).
Make it as easy as possible to engage in the task you are trying to accomplish (create a pleasant work station, leave your gym clothes in the car).
Solution: We want to create motivation to get things done. It helps to take a step back and look at the big picture. Does this task really have to be perfect? What will happen if it isn’t? What’s the best use of your time? Things usually don’t have to be perfect. They just need to be “good enough”.
Often it is better to just get something done, even if it isn’t perfect.
You also need to make room for mistakes. They are normal and will happen. Forgive yourself and move on.
Most of us procrastinate for a variety of these reasons. Try using a couple of these strategies this week and see if you can get more done without the added stress of procrastination.
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