How to stop procrastinating

How to stop procrastinating

Oh boy, we really tried to avoid writing this one!

We tend to think of procrastination as being an issue with managing our time effectively due to leaving things to the last minute. However, procrastination is an issue with self-regulation which is the ability to effectively manage our emotions.

Think about the times you tend to procrastinate. You’ll notice that it’s usually in order to avoid an uncomfortable or negative emotion brought on by tasks that are cognitively or physically demanding or boring. You might have experienced procrastinating before doing household chores, having a difficult conversation, going to the gym or working on an important project.

Some of us have a tendency to procrastinate on tasks that are important to us. Not doing well on certain tasks may threaten our self-esteem, such as if we don't do well in an exam or a presentation at work. Procrastinating allows us to protect our ego as we can blame not performing well to a lack of time to prepare, rather than on our ability to do well.  

Sometimes planning itself can be a form of procrastination, giving us the feeling of being productive. We may spend a long time planning, but then fail to execute any of the steps we’ve planned.

Here are three strategies to overcome procrastination.

  • First, put a plan in place. Outline the steps you need to take. A clear path ahead can help you feel more at ease and helps you know where to start.
  • Then, take small action. Identify the smallest possible step you need to take to make progress, and start there.

Finally, make a small time commitment. Commit to the task for only 5 or 10 minutes. Usually the hard part is just getting started.  Often once you’ve started, you’ll likely work on the task for longer.

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