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:
1. What are your procrastination habits? Answer these questions to discover your unique way 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?
• 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”?
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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. The 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?
• Do you fear either success or failure?
• Do you often miss deadlines?
• Does just thinking about the biggest task you’ve been putting off 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.
3. How can you stop procrastinating? Try these key strategies to get the wheels rolling and get things off your to-do list:
• Make a list of all the negative consequences you’ll have if you don’t get that one big task done.
• Break big tasks in to smaller parts.
• 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.
Try my “Rule Of 3’s” to keep from procrastinating:
1. Write down the first 3 things you need to do to get started.
2. Then, promise yourself you will get these 3 things done before moving on to anything else.
3. Once those first 3 things are done, make your next list of 3 steps, then tackle them.
The Rule of 3’s can help you create momentum, which is fueled by the feelings of pride you will have in starting and accomplishing the first 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.
Most important! Your habit of procrastinating has probably been going on for quite some time. It will take practice and persistence to stop procrastinating!