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4 Tips for Overcoming Procrastination



Have you heard the joke about procrastination? The one that goes, "I'll work on my procrastination thing tomorrow?" It's a humorous take, but procrastination often lures us into perpetually delaying tasks, creating a cycle of endless tomorrows. It's a common human trait that is usually tied to avoiding unpleasant assignments.


There's a saying that captures this well: "Perfectionism is procrastination all dressed up." Indeed, procrastination wears many faces, and it’s often rooted in the fear of failure, the pursuit of perfection, difficulty initiating tasks, or a lack of motivation. 


In his book Solving the Procrastination Puzzle, author Timothy Pychyl said, “It is a purely visceral, emotional reaction to something we don’t want to do. The more averse you find a task, the more likely you are to procrastinate.” He goes on to state that procrastination is the neurological part of your brain strong-arming your logic and reason at an irrational level.


A lifetime of experience has taught me that procrastination typically emerges when I am bored, frustrated, or fearful of the unknown. These emotions in turn produce poor habits leading to feelings of overwhelm connected to deferring said tasks.


So how do we tackle the procrastination monster? Here are four hacks to help you combat the temptation of procrastination once and for all.


1. Connect Tasks to Goals

Yes, goal setting is one of the most important elements to beating the desire to procrastinate. Since procrastination often stems from feelings of being overwhelmed, it only makes sense that assigning goals around specific tasks can be a powerful starting point for improvement. First; divide annual goals into manageable goals, then break monthly goals down into weekly ones. Finally, weekly goals become a daily tasks list.


Remember the last time you entered the garage and realized it was a disaster in desperate need of organization? Your inside voice said “I’ll get around to it someday.” Or how about that time you opened your clothes closet and searched for a specific shirt for fifteen minutes, all the while thinking it needed to be organized? Seriously, I am not trying to closet-shame you because I too am guilty my friend!


Instead, schedule a finish date for organizing the garage and commit 1 hour to it regularly until it is complete. Choose one section of your closet and sort through it for 15 minutes daily until it is done.


2. Maintain a Dynamic To-Do List

Use your To-Do list to move through tasks in order of priority. Check each item as it is completed. This method provides a daily sense of accomplishment while moving the needle on your project. Unfinished items can be carried over to the next day without hassle. And, before long you will have cleaned out the garage or organized that bedroom closet. Then remember to give yourself a big pat on the back - because I’m all about celebrating small wins.


3. Segment Unpleasant Tasks into 15-30 Minute Increments

This technique has been a personal game-changer, especially for my sizable and daunting tasks. Whether it's organizing the garage, tidying up the closet, or devising a content plan. Commit to 15-30 minute blocks and halt when the time's up, (no matter how little you have done). Continue the next day as needed until the job is complete. Respect the boundary you've set and resume it on the following day if necessary.


4. Embrace the 5-Minute Rule

The 5-minute rule is the superpower hack for breaking the habit of procrastination. Tell yourself that you only have to work on the task for five minutes. Your neurological pathways will begin celebrating the tiny commitment of five minutes, as you roll off the couch, sashay into the closet and grab a hanger. This is the ultimate psych because anyone can commit to five minutes. But, I guarantee you - that once you start, you will continue for much longer than that. 


Recap:

  1. Connect tasks to goals.

  2. Create a dynamic To-Do list

  3. Segment tasks into 15 minute increments

  4. Practice the 5-Minute Rule


Conclusion

Trust me, as a lifelong professional procrastinator, if I can break this habit - anyone can. I finally kissed the habit goodbye when I applied these simple and actionable steps. And, I’ve done it for so long that I need the spell-checker to even spell procrastinate - ha, ha, just kidding. But thinking of the big picture; breaking up with the procrastination monster can seriously turn your life around. It seems like such a simple application, but as James Clear said in his book Atomic Habits “Motivation comes after starting, not before.” So, finish this blog post and get started on those tasks you’ve been putting off - you know which ones.

 


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