It's come to visit you yet again.
You're not alone, and you're in good company (as I write this article I can think of many other exciting things to do like eat a biscuit, check my emails, look at Insta, streamline my computer files, tidy my desk even).
Most of us, and particularly when it comes to exams, assignments and homework, get an attack of procrastination.
Well maybe it's because you just view what you need to do as plain old boring, and you'd rather watch an episode of The Big Bang Theory. Or maybe it's because you think you can't do it, or you're scared you're going to fail; or it just feels too much. Maybe you're a perfectionist, so you put things off until you're in the right mood, maybe you're disorganised, maybe you're just feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all.
Well, the good new is that no-one is born a procrastinator, it's a learned habit; so therefore you can unlearn it. The bad news is ... you're probably a bit of a master at it by now, so it will take a bit of time and effort.
But rather than knowing why you procrastinate, I bet you just want to know how to stop it.
So let's focus on that.
Here's seven handy hints to break the procrastination habit (and get stuff done in the process):
- Write down everything you have to do. Often something that seems massive is actually just a bunch of little stuff clumped together.Once you see them as separate little steps it can appear way easier to achieve.
- Start with some quick, small tasks (even if these aren't the logical first tasks). Once you start crossing them off your to do list you'll start to feel satisfied and that can really get the ball rolling to 'get stuff done'.
- Reward yourself. Give yourself a treat (a yummy chocolate biscuit, listening to a song, five minutes of social media time) ONLY when you've completed a certain task. And make sure you notice how good it feels to finish things - take total pleasure in crossing it off your to do list.
- Get an accountability buddy who will check up on you. Every hour touch base with a friend or parent, and give them an update of what you've done. It's amazing how motivating it can be when you've got to report back to someone about whether you've done what you said you'd do. (Tip – don't choose someone who will say “never mind dear, better luck next time” when you don't finish what you said you would. But, also don't choose someone who will make you feel like crap if you don't manage to finish it in time. Choose someone who will actually make you accountable for your word).
- Identify the consequences of NOT doing the task. This is often worse than just doing it, and can often get you into action mode.
- Use the 'Pomodoro Method'. Set a timer for 25 minutes and work only on one task for that 25 minutes. Then when the timer goes off give yourself a five minute break. Then set the timer again for 25 minutes and work on something else, and on and on you go.
- Eat that frog! “If the first thing you do each morning is eat a live frog, then you can go through the day with the satisfaction that it is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day”.
Do the task you really don't want to do... first. The sense of satisfaction is huge once it's completed. It doesn't help, or make it easier, to sit and look at the frog all day. The more you procrastinate the more difficult it is to eat it. So chow down on that frog first thing in the morning, and feel good about having it done.
Remember – we all have things to do that we don't want to.
Even the most successful, capable and organised people have boring things they would really rather not do. So not wanting to do a task doesn't make you less intelligent or less capable than anyone else.
The only difference between you and the more organised, or successful, people is that they just realise that they have to do it, and delaying the inevitable just makes that frog look even more revolting.
By getting on with it, and eating it quickly, means they put themselves through less stress or worry, and they can then get on and do the things that really interest them.
You know you'll feel great when you've done it.
Good luck and take care.
Vanessa Aitken is a qualified Life Coach and Community Welfare Worker who specialises in stress and anxiety. She works one on one with teenagers as well as conducting presentations and workshops in secondary schools around managing stress and anxiety. She works with people across Australia and globally through the wonders of Skype and Zoom. You can connect with Vanessa via her website: www.threesixtycoaching.com.au
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