“Human design reveals your inherent gifts and talents to boost your performance”
30 de November de 2023
Five minutes and I’ll get to it. How about later? Well, I’ll do it tomorrow because now isn’t a good time. Or maybe in September — or in January, when I have more free time…
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him!” Charles Dickens once wrote. We’ve all been enticed by it at some point, to avoid tasks that we find unappealing or challenging. For some, it becomes a chronic companion, haunting our work, studies and even our daily lives.
How can we nip procrastination in the bud before it takes hold of us? Let’s see:
Procrastination is all about putting off and delaying tasks or activities that need to be addressed, opting instead for less important or more enjoyable ones. It’s also marked by making future promises to ourselves as a way to convince us that we’ll eventually get things done, thus easing the guilt that comes from procrastinating.
Procrastination isn’t just about laziness; it goes deeper than that. It’s a behavior that’s driven by an underlying cause. In other words, procrastination isn’t the problem itself, but rather a symptom of something more profound. To solve it, we need to get to the root of the issue.
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There are some effective strategies that can help you pinpoint when and why you’re procrastinating, and ultimately alleviate its impact and decrease its frequency.
1. Identify the root cause. In order to find a solution, you first need to pinpoint the problem. So, the first step is to engage in introspection and ask yourself what could be the reasons behind your procrastination, taking into account some of the common causes. Reflect on your patterns and ask yourself questions: Do you notice any specific type of task that you tend to procrastinate on? Is there a particular time of day when you find yourself more prone to postponing tasks? What emotions do you experience with certain activities? Do they make you feel discomfort or anxiety? Are you overly perfectionistic or demanding with some of them? Additionally, pay attention to your thoughts and internal dialogue. It’s possible that you’re procrastinating certain tasks because negative thoughts arise, such as “you’re not good at this,” “you’ll never succeed,” or “if it’s not perfect, don’t do it at all.” Take note of your thoughts, what you tell yourself, and how you communicate with yourself.
2. Take small steps. If you’re facing significant resistance towards a specific task, start with something manageable to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Instead of aiming to complete it, why not try taking the first step and committing to work on that task for just half an hour? Focus on setting sustainable goals and consistently taking subtle actions. Sometimes, when a task seems too big due to its complexity, time requirements, or the number of components involved, it can be daunting. In such cases, a helpful approach is to break down the task into smaller, easily achievable sub-tasks that don’t overwhelm your mind. Have you heard of the Scrum method? It can be a valuable tool for organizing your work.
3. Get rid of distractions. Take a moment to identify any objects or situations that tend to easily distract you — such as social media, television, certain sounds or conversations. Then, make an effort to protect yourself from these distractions while you’re working on your tasks.
4. Positive reinforcements. Whenever you make progress on the task you’ve been procrastinating on or even successfully complete it, treat yourself to something you enjoy and find satisfying. This way, you’ll start creating positive mental associations and training your brain for future occasions.
5. Specific and achievable goals. This is very important because sometimes we tend to set unrealistic goals by trying to do too much. We can’t expect to go to the gym every day, read three books a month, learn two languages, all while working full-time and taking care of our home and family.
6. Get ready before taking action. Make it easier for yourself in the preparation phase before diving in. You can do this by organizing your workspace or the area in which you’ll be working on the task. Gather the tools or resources you’ll need ahead of time and create an initial outline to guide you.
7. Make tasks enjoyable. If it’s an activity that you don’t like, feel lazy to do, or find challenging, surround yourself with elements that you enjoy so that it’s not all negative. You can incorporate music, scented candles, or take breaks in between to breathe and pause.
8. Establish rituals. Creating routines can help you mentally prepare to take action. For instance, if you’re planning to start running as a new habit, it’s a great idea to set aside your workout clothes the night before. This way, your mind will already be primed, making it easier for you to take that step when the time comes to act.
9. Create to-do lists. Write down all the tasks you need to get done, starting from the small and simple ones to the larger or more complex ones. As you finish each task, check it off the list. This way, your brain will see the progress you’re making and your motivation will be more easily maintained for the remaining tasks.
10. Manage your time effectively. Organize your tasks with specific time limits and incorporate breaks in between to prevent physical and mental exhaustion. One popular technique is the “Pomodoro Technique”: you dedicate 25 minutes to a task and take a 5-minute break before continuing.
11. Make decisions. If you’re not making progress on a task because there’s a decision that you’re unsure about, make it easier for yourself by simplifying the decision-making process. Here are a few ideas to consider: use strategic tactics, such as elimination or discarding the least appropriate options. Alternatively, if you find it difficult to choose, you can leave it up to chance: flip a coin and let life —and the coin toss— decide for you!
12. Create a practical plan. Be specific and decide on the day, place, amount of time you’ll allocate, and the exact time when you’ll do it. Be as detailed as possible so that the task is visually organized and clear in your mind. Then, write it down on paper, in your planner, or on your calendar.