We are all guilty of it. It could be as simple as letting that load of laundry grow bigger before we toss it into the washing machine. Or it might be letting the dishes wait until morning when you aren’t quite so tired.
Or…it might be putting off that task on your to-do list at work. You know the one. You have been avoiding it for a few hours, or maybe until the next day…or even next week, if you don’t want it to give you a poor start to your weekend.
But I’m going to let you in on a little secret…
It won’t go away.
No matter how much we wish the procrastination fiery would come and do our laundry, our dishes, or that hated task at work…she is a busy little fiery. She is not as magical as Santa visiting every house in one evening.
Tip #1 Know your triggers.
What does your behavior look like when you are procrastinating? Do you put that folder at the bottom of your inbox? Or do you look the other way when that frustrating email glares at you? Recognizing your patterns is the first step in changing your procrastination ways.
Tip # Why do you procrastinate?
Studies have shown that people procrastinate because they are delaying or are against doing the task, aren’t organized, lack motivation, or are impulsive. This results in putting off one task in preference to another (yes, of course, there are times when something lands on your desk that is a legitimate “must do now” task). Sometimes we feel the task is too big, and we become overwhelmed or fear failing to do the task well.
Tip #3 You can change!
Know that just because you have procrastinated doesn’t mean you have to keep procrastinating. Forgive yourself and move forward, knowing that you are intentionally trying to leave your procrastinating ways behind. Simply acknowledge that fact and let it go. Not acknowledging it will set you up for failure in the future.
Tip #4 Procrastination is an evil beast.
Try making a commitment to yourself that you will get this task done by such & such a date. Then just do it. Make it happen. Don’t get distracted or discouraged. Don’t let stress creep into your mind, and don’t stop. Take one bite at a time out of that beast of a project. (You might need to take a step back, gain some perspective, or if you are like me…a change of scenery adds some fresh ideas and gets your cognitive juices flowing again!).
Tip #4 Find a goal buddy.
A co-worker, a friend, your significant other…it doesn’t matter. Talk to one another about your goals for the day. Make yourself accountable to someone. Then celebrate your successes together! Make your to-do list have a fun ending you will look forward to!
Tip #5 Slap your inner voice.
When you find yourself hearing inner thoughts of “I can’t do this,” “I wish this didn’t land on my desk,” “I don’t have enough time or information to complete this”, etc., simply shove those inner thoughts aside. Your inner voice can be a negative force, and will do her best to try to talk you out of completing your to-do list. (Mine likes to talk me into believing something sugary will help me focus. Beware of this - it’s simply NOT true.)
A few final words: Your most hated tasks that cause procrastination are not a catastrophe. They aren’t out to get you. Don’t stress over perfection. Put your best into it, then don’t criticize yourself because you didn’t have enough time to make it perfect. You do have enough time, don’t let this be a distraction. Set your to-do lists realistically. None of us can do everything. Delegate, take small chunks, set small goals and know your peak efficiency times - and use them for good!