How to rescue your time from procrastination

A person seated at a laptop looking perplexed.

Our latest lockdown seemed to come out of nowhere. From the announcement on the Sunday some of us may have felt a sense of overwhelm, wondering what the immediate future would look like. Once the realisation of the situation became apparent, we adjusted. Perhaps we thought “well, we have done it before, so we can do it again” and this thinking helped us to adjust.

This time though, for some of us, procrastination was a new battle we faced at home. Whether it’s juggling work, managing children at home, partners out of work or disconnection from family and friends, overwhelm can lead to procrastination. Maybe you planned to start your day with some writing and found yourself watching puppy videos an hour later. Or maybe you had a report to finish and ended up casually browsing news articles instead. Perhaps you were super productive in some areas and just put off those difficult tasks.

However, and whenever procrastination hits you, it is safe to say that there is nothing worse than putting things off that we know we need to get done.

Here’s our strategies for rescuing your time and not procrastinating.

Identify why you’re procrastinating

When faced with a decision or a task to complete, we usually rely on our self-control to push ourselves to get things done. When it comes to specific reasons why people procrastinate, in terms of demotivating and hindering factors, the following are among the most common:

  • Feeling overwhelmed.
  • Rewards that are far in the future.
  • Task aversion.
  • Perfectionism and fear of failure
  • Boredom

So firstly, decide what is causing you to procrastinate, then build a plan around it.

Acknowledge and accept to break out of the cycle of procrastination.

Studies have shown the more people feel bad about procrastinating, the more likely they are to do it in the future. It is a recursive loop, feeling bad about procrastinating, feeling overwhelmed to know where to start, then go back to procrastinating. One way to break the cycle is to acknowledge where you are and accept the past. We can sometimes give too much value to things we can’t change, and this impacts our future decisions. For example, you may have avoided upskilling in a certain area that would benefit you. That time is gone. So why should it have such an influence on your future decisions? Procrastination is an emotional problem. Self-compassion and forgiveness help get us out of the habit of putting things off.

Establish some small, achievable goals

Every time your brain crosses something off a list you get a hit of dopamine, one of our ‘happy chemicals’. The more you keep this going, the more likely you are to achieve your goals and not procrastinate. Our confidence increases based on our ability to make progress. Start small by focusing your attention on your task for an easy 5 minutes, uninterrupted. Once you achieve this, add another 5 minutes and another, then so on.  Completing even tiny parts of tasks towards your goal makes you feel more confident in your own abilities. This leads to feeling happier and motivated.

Understanding procrastination is beneficial, since it can help you figure out why you yourself procrastinate. This is in turn can help you figure out how to solve your procrastination problem.

To learn more about this, and to understand how you can implement this knowledge in practice attend our Finish What You Start – 8 Ways to Tackle Procrastination workshop. For more information visit www.ati-mirage.com.au

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