If you struggle with procrastinating, you’re not alone. The Psychological Bulletin studies have shown that approximately 25% of adults and 75% of college students struggle with chronic procrastination. That’s a lot of people!
Procrastination is often mislabeled as laziness, but the problem isn’t necessarily that us procrastinators don’t care enough, it’s that we care too much. Fearing a certain outcome, like failure, can lead to pushing off tasks. In fact, the tasks that we push off the most are usually ones that evoke uncomfortable emotions like self-doubt and insecurity. Unfortunately, research shows that the more we push these tasks off, the more stressful they’ll seem.
However, we are not doomed! Consider the following tips to help avoid procrastinating:
- Break Tasks Down: Turn your big tasks into manageable pieces and assign yourself your own personal deadlines to complete each piece. Then, reward yourself after completing each part of the project (crossing each part off on a to-do list counts as a mini-reward!). Completing one task and adding a reward will ensure a nice dopamine release into your bloodstream, which will, in turn, increase your level of motivation to do the next task! The more you do = the more motivation you’ll likely have to keep going.
- Tip: Start with the easiest task. Completing the least daunting task first will get the ball rolling to complete more tasks (Again, thank you, dopamine!).
- Set Timers: Doing something is always better than doing nothing. Try simply committing to working on your task for a certain amount of time. Set a timer (I.e., 30 minutes) and just do as much as you can within that time. You only need to commit to working that allotted amount of time, but if you gain some momentum and feel like doing another round on the timer, go for it!
- Tip: Get rid of all distractions before you start that timer! Consider putting your phone on Do Not Disturb.
- Reflect on Your Procrastination: Check in with yourself about why you’re pushing your tasks off. Ask yourself: What is stopping me, and how can I overcome it? What do I need to be able to complete this task? What is my ultimate goal or motivation? (I.e., Completing homework to be able to get a dream job, creating healthier habits to feel better physically and mentally, etc.)
- Tip: Write out your answers to these questions instead of just answering them in your head in order to get the most clarity.
- Challenge Negative Self-Talk: It’s important to be conscious of and to challenge self-critical talk. Beating yourself up can crush the reward feeling you get from that dopamine release I’ve been talking so much about. Giving yourself positive feedback can make a huge difference in your level of motivation to complete your tasks, especially when you continue to do it over time.
- FYI: The fact that you’re reading this right now shows that you’re putting the effort in, so give yourself a pat on the back! I’m serious… give that back a little pat. Bonus points if you can muster up a smile too 🙂
Working through your procrastination will help you get your tasks done now and pave the way for a more satisfying and fulfilling life. Remember that your value comes from who you are, not what you do. Now go get started on that thing you’re avoiding by reading this!