Kick that Procrastination Habit
Think of that thing you've been meaning to start, take care of, or even let go. That thing that you keep thinking of, then putting off, and it now feels like it’s just hanging over your head, or maybe even like you’re just not going to do it after all. When procrastination strikes, the stress of starting to work on a project or chore can sometimes keep us from working on it at all.
If you find yourself falling into the trap of procrastination often, you are not alone. Everyone procrastinates, and research has shown that about 20% of the population are actually chronic procrastinators. But the worst part about procrastination? The push and pull of putting work off typically ends up being more stressful than the work itself! Once we experience that, we can then end up mentally beating ourselves up over it even after we’ve done the work. Talk about draining and discouraging.
Procrastination really is one of the few things that just doesn’t serve anyone well. Quitting procrastination completely overnight is an unrealistic expectation, but there are some ways to start kicking the habit and get back to being productive.
Know yourself and your work habits.
Take some time to discover what time you shine. Contrary to what some believe, you don’t have to wake up at 5:00 a.m. to have a productive day. The truth is that some of us work best at dawn, while others have more focus in the afternoon or even at night. Pay attention to what time of day you tend to feel the most motivated and mentally “on,” then plan some work accordingly! Prioritize that thing you’ve been procrastinating and take the first steps toward getting that done at the optimal time for you.
Make the task manageable.
If a project or chore seems daunting, it will help to break that task down into more manageable pieces. For example, cleaning out the closet where you shove all of your miscellaneous junk sounds pretty intimidating, but if you recognize that the project is made up of single steps of pulling one box out at a time and going through it, that seems more doable. Similarly, if you’re having a hard time starting a long paper, think about what the steps are to get to the finish line: finding sources, writing an outline, etc. Then take those steps one at a time.
Angelia Trinidad said it best when she said, "It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to start." Set aside just 30 minutes of your day (in your personal productive timeframe) to work toward that thing, whatever it may be for you. Don't know where to start? Great! Use today’s 30 minutes making some notes to help create a game plan to make that big task more manageable. Once you have that, move on to action steps to help get you there. Pull out that first box in the closet! Maybe you want to be more active! Simply go for a 30 minute walk today. Looking to develop a new skill? Practice makes perfect! Start with “elementary” exercises just to get yourself started and in the habit. If you’re looking to improve upon an aspect of your health or mental health, take the time to make those first calls and make yourself an appointment with a dentist, physician, therapist, counselor, etc.
Procrastination is extra poisonous because of how we beat ourselves up for it. Stop that right now. Did you do that first day/first 30 minute exercise? Give yourself a reward and see what it feels like to start extending grace toward yourself. Say you made a plan to fold one hamper worth of laundry… write one paragraph… make that appointment… When you’ve done it, reward yourself by watching one episode of your favorite show or dedicate fifteen minutes to a hobby you love (that may not feel productive). As silly as it might sound, you’ll be surprised how much easier it is to finish your task when you know there’s something positive at the end of it. Plus, over time, you’ll hopefully be left with that positive accomplished feeling instead of only slight relief sprinkled with plenty of self-deprecation over the procrastination aspect.