I sometimes find myself rushing to do things at the last minute. I know that these things must be done by a certain time and I always find myself waiting until the last minute to get it done. This is what your call I call “the spirit of procrastination!” This is a horrible attribute to have attached to you. Although it may seem like you have it under control; sooner or later, procrastination will betray you and end up being you worst enemy.
Here are some tips from psychology today to help deal with procrastination:
- Leverage the tasks you want to do by withholding them until your more odious tasks are completed first. That way, desirable tasks become a motivating reward.
- Make lists on paper of all the tasks you need to accomplish and the dates by which they need to be done. This will help us parse our time so that we aren’t forced to choose between completing one task or another. We need to order our tasks into groups so that tasks upon which other tasks depend are listed—and therefore done—first. Then we need to place the most burdensome tasks first. Whether it’s answering an email, calling someone, reading a report, or writing a paper, our goal should always be to dispense with our most difficult tasks first.
- Eliminate distractions. Distractions used to be far less of a problem—but now are ubiquitous. Especially when we want to be distracted (as when facing an odious task), we will be. So shut off the push notification on your smartphone, switch your email “send/receive” to manual, keep your web browser closed (some software programs will even prevent you from using it at intervals you set if you find you can’t resist it), and forward all calls to voice mail. Batch those distractions only once you’ve accomplished a predetermined number of tasks.
- Ensure you have adequate energy. Get enough sleep (few of us do). If you’re depressed, get help.
- Understand all the reasons you don’t want to complete a task. You very well may not know them. Perhaps you’re actually afraid to talk to a particular person. Maybe you think that what you have to say about the topic on which you need to write is banal. The reasons we do things—and don’t do things—may seem obvious to our conscious minds, but our conscious minds are champion storytellers. They come up with reasonable explanations that are far from proven and then accept them completely even though they’re often dead wrong. Keep asking yourself: Why don’t you want to make that condolence call? Why don’t you want to write that book report? Why don’t you want to go to that meeting? Whatever the true reasons, when you apprehend them, they’ll lose some of their power to induce procrastination.
- Remind yourself why a task is important. Follow through in your mind to the worst consequences possible of not completing it.
- —leverage anxiety. Too much anxiety is paralyzing. But a little anxiety is motivating (nothing like the fear of failing a test to motivate you to study for it). Learn to gauge your anxiety level. If it’s too high, and you’re procrastinating because you’re simply overwhelmed by it, get professional help to manage it.
- Make a plan first thing in the morning (or even last thing at night). Decide what tasks you’re going to accomplish and actively anticipate doing so as you approach the time you’ve planned to begin tackling them. Like a professional skier mentally rehearsing each and every twist and turn of a ski run, you’re more likely to succeed if you succeed first in your mind.
- Plan rewards for yourself. Looking forward to a reward for completing a task eventually creates a craving that can be highly motivating—even if the rewards are small (ten minutes of reading for pleasure, for example). If you jump to the reward before you’ve earned it, stop yourself, and return to the task at hand.
Try to implement some of these tips if not all to help you reduce and or eliminate “the spirit of procrastination.”
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