Procrastination is the art of putting off today what could be done tomorrow, or possibly waiting even a few more days....because well you're just procrastinating. We procrastinate at work when those little tasks come up that aren't necessarily a priority today, but before we know it they have become a priority and the clock is ticking to complete it. We procrastinate at home, and hold off on cleaning and straightening things out and suddenly we are frantically trying to clean the entire house because we're expecting guests. There are always unfinished projects around the house, mail that needs to be dealt with and you're saying to yourself "I'll get to it". Sound familiar? According to a study twenty percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators (Carleton University, Ottawa Canada). So why procrastinate when it may be followed by panic mode, elevated stress levels and a general sense of lack of accomplishment because we've consciously decided to wait until the very last minute?
While the reasons may vary as to why we decide to put things off until the last minute we can certainly try to overcome these obstacles we set for ourselves. By beginning to lighten our mental load and deciding to take things on when we should, our stress due to avoidance as well as our sense of accomplishment will take off. I dont know about you but that sounds like a sweeter deal than being in panic mode. I listed some ways below that you can begin to overcome procrastination and embrace your to do list with enthusiasm and excitement! Well maybe in some cases, depending on the chore of course. Regardless of the task, always remember one important piece of the procrastination puzzle- keeping procrastination to a minimum will lead to a happier and more productive life.
4 Steps to Stop Procrastination and Start Today
1. Zone in on how you're feeling before beginning a task. Feelings of stress, anxiety or anxiousness will combat your strategy to get the task at hand completed. Take a deep breathe, go for a walk, put on some relaxing music or your favorite song. Relaxing your mind and taking a moment to breathe will help you stay focused and on target. Once you begin your task those elevated levels of stress will melt away.
2. Take a break. Already? Absolutely! Taking a break when you mentally feel it's neccesary is important. Getting burned out from a project may lead you to stop in the middle of it and never go back to it. Keep your eye on the time and set a break schedule for yourself. Sometime 5 minutes is all you need to get right back on track.
3. Set realistic goals for yourself. If you have 5 outstanding projects you've been meaning to complete, write them down and give yourself a goal as to when you'd like to complete them. There are so many factors in our lives that can steer us off course. Be honest with yourself about the timing of your project. There are things that may take an hour and others that may take a month to accomplish. The idea here is to strive for that end result and be consistent and realistic with your goals. The less pressure you put on yourself the more likely you will complete it.
4. Make a schedule and stick to it by breaking up the tasks. This differs than setting realistic goals because it zones in specifically on the timing of the project. Grab a calendar, break out the tasks into smaller steps and write down the plan you've created for yourself to complete it. Make it work for you. Think for instance about deciding to clean out your basement. If it's very unorganized it could take a week. Before you get overwhelmed and decide to save it for a rainy day, break out those tasks into much smaller and achievable tasks. If it's a project that may only take an hour, commit to getting it done the moment you can. By putting the breaks on "getting to it later" you are slowly but surely opening up time into your day, week and month!
Procrastination doesn't have to dwell in and out of our lives. We can decide when to break the "put it off for another day" habits and focus on accomplishing our goals. If we are waiting for the perfect conditions to start we will never get anything done. So stop saying tomorrow and start saying today. Your future self will thank you for it.