3 Questions To Help You Get A Grip On Procrastination
Joan Jerkovich - February 4, 2015 12:17 pm
Procrastinating is more common than one might think. Who hasn’t taken a look at that dreaded “to-do” list, only to decide it can wait?
Who hasn’t fallen away from the “drudge” list, right onto the couch or easy chair for an afternoon of mindless net surfing, or Netflix streaming?
Even if you’re a get-it-done type of person, when haven’t you tackled your list of “tasks” by prioritizing the easiest, most unimportant ones first?
All of these habits have one thing in common. They are your unique way of procrastinating.
Ask yourself these 3 questions to get a grip on procrastination.
Listen this weekend to “The Joan Jerkovich Show” where I talk about procrastination and discuss ways to address this habit with 2 of my callers. Also, just for kicks, listen to my caller, “The Trust Fund Bartender” and hear “Confessions of a Trust Fund Kid”.
Question 1: What are your procrastination habits?
Damnit! No one is going to tell me that on the occasional day when I take a break from work for mindless net surfing, or streaming the latest documentary, or playing Candy Crush that I’m procrastinating. Yes, I’m the girl who has the occasional fall into my favorite easy chair!
And, damnit, I’m here to say that infrequently diverting from the tasks at hand is not procrastination. In fact, it could be categorized as good time management. We all need down time to rest and regroup.
That said, procrastination becomes a problem if it’s your first response to getting things done.
Answer these questions to see if you find yourself in the habit of procrastinating:
- Do you always put off doing the priority items on your “to do” list?
- Do you busy yourself with menial tasks?
- How long has your priority item been sitting on your “to-do” list?
- Do you often get sidetracked from doing things?
- Does looking at your list cause you anxiety?
- Do you feel disappointed with yourself when you don’t get things done?
- Do you question your ability to accomplish the task at hand?
- Does the “Big Pappa” of tasks leave you feeling overwhelmed?
- Do you feel helpless to get started on that biggest task?
- Is it hard to decide where to start?
- Do you put off tasks until you’re “in the mood”?
If you’ve answered “yes” to a majority of these questions, let’s talk about why you procrastinate. Come on. You know you do, so read on.
Question 2: Why do you procrastinate?
Procrastination really boils down to a series of habits, and a particular way of thinking that you have adopted. Neither has served you well.
Two factors are at play when you procrastinate; there is the task at hand, then there is you. Let’s talk about each to strategize for change.
First, we’re going to talk about the “Big Pappa” task at hand that you’ve been avoiding.
When that super big, clean out your elderly spinster Aunt’s hoarder house, monster-of-a-job, has been sitting untouched on your plate for months, it’s common to feel overwhelmed. (Geesh, I have a friend who had to do just that, and I write it here to help you realize that the big task you’ve been avoiding could be worse!)
Feeling overwhelmed with an unpleasant task is OK. In fact, it’s normal. But, what you need to do is to approach this task by breaking it down in to small parts.
Try my rule of 3’s.
Write down the first 3 things you need to do to get started. You’ll know what they are, and even if you feel uncertain, just take your best guess at what they should be. Don’t overthink it.
Then, grit your teeth if you need to, but promise yourself you will get these 3 things done before moving on to anything else.
Once those 3 things are done, make your next list of 3 steps, then tackle them.
This helps you create momentum, which is fueled by the feelings of pride you will have in starting and accomplishing the first “Big Pappa” steps! Just getting started will also help you dispel any feelings of distaste you have for the project. Once you get going, you’ll discover that the task wasn’t as bad as you imagined.
Next, let’s talk about you. Why do you procrastinate?
3 key things people who procrastinate struggle with are disorganization, perfectionism or decision-making. Ask yourself the following questions to see if you struggle with any of these:
- Do you rarely make to-do lists?
- Have you often felt you were disorganized?
- Have others commented that you are disorganized?
- Do you live in a hoarder house? (My bad for throwing that question in!)
- Do you fear either success or failure?
- Do you often miss deadlines?
- Does just thinking about your “Big Pappa” task make you anxious?
- Do you hold back from doing things if you feel you can’t do them perfectly?
- Do you have trouble making decisions, even relatively small ones?
If you’ve answered “yes” to a majority of these questions, let’s talk about what you can do to get a grip on your procrastination.
Question 3: How can you stop procrastinating?
In addition to what you’ve already gleaned from this blog, try these key strategies to get the wheels rolling so that you can roll that “Big Pappa” right off your to-do list:
- Make a list of all the negative consequences you’ll have if you don’t get “Big Pappa” done.
- Break big tasks in to smaller parts.
- Try my 1-2-3 Rule.
- Do only one task at a time.
- Set up an accountability partner, someone you tell about your goals, who will promise to help keep you on track.
- Reward yourself for accomplishing the most dreaded tasks.
- Calm your anxiety or nervousness with mindful, focused breathing.
- If you have problems with perfectionism, vow to research tools for coping.
- If you have problems with decision-making, research ways to improve that skill set.
Most important! Your habit of procrastinating has probably been going on for quite some time. It will take practice and persistence to stop procrastinating and turn those “Big Pappas” in your life in to “Little Brothers”.
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