Did you know that procrastination affects more than 95 percent of us? So, if you didn’t think you procrastinate, you likely do in some area of your life. Or maybe you’ve been meaning to deal with it but you’ve been putting it off.
While talking about procrastination, it’s important to point out how it’s different from being lazy. Procrastination is the feeling of putting something off and filling your time with other tasks to avoid doing what you need to do. We often procrastinate certain tasks that we don’t want to do or ones that seem stressful. You aren’t the only one who puts off organizing your garage, or making a budget for your finances. We procrastinate when we feel anxious, nervous, overwhelmed, and when we’re worried about failing.
Here are a few tips to help you kick your procrastination habit.
- Recognize that you’re procrastinating and ask yourself why
Similar to the recovery journey, the first step to getting sober is to admit to yourself that you have an addiction. With procrastination you have to be honest with yourself and pay attention to when you’re procrastinating. Focus on what tasks you’re putting off. Ask yourself ‘why am I putting this task off?’ ‘Does the idea of organizing the garage stress me out?’ ‘Do I not want to make a budget or go through my monthly spending because I am afraid of the truth?’ Then think about how the act of putting off these tasks will make it harder to complete in the future. The longer you let your garage sit there, the messier it will get if you keep adding to it. The more you keep spending money not knowing what your finances look like, the less likely you will be able to save money down the line.
- Take baby steps
If you’re a big time procrastinator, it’s not a habit you’re going to kick overnight, but you can take small steps every day to focus on doing instead of avoiding. First thing is to write a to-do list of the things you keep putting off. Then write an amount of time on that to-do list next to each task. This time limit will be how long you are going to work on each chore without stopping. Working on each task for a certain amount of time without letting yourself stop and get distracted will help you slowly stop your procrastination habit. Not all of procrastination is about not beginning a task. A lot of big procrastinators start a task and then stop and don’t finish the job at hand.
Another baby step to take towards becoming less of a procrastinator is not letting yourself get distracted. If you need to focus on creating a budget for the month but you keep checking your social media, watching TV, searching for snacks in the pantry, and two hours has gone by and there’s no budget, get rid of your distractions! Turn your phone off, work in a room without a tv, and get yourself one snack to eat while you’re working and only allow yourself that one snack.
- Ask someone to check in on you and reward yourself
There was a reason we got gold stars in elementary school when we did something good. The act of being rewarded for our good behavior made us want to keep listening. Rewarding yourself when you focus on the tasks that you’ve been avoiding will help you stay on track. So you started cleaning out the garage: it’s hard work; it’s dirty; there are spiders; it’s not that fun; you’re two hours into organizing some boxes; take a breath and reward yourself. Make yourself a delicious cup of coffee or order delivery from your favorite pizza place. Give yourself a timed five-minute social media break. Giving yourself a small reward after every few hours of deep focus will keep you motivated and working hard. On top of rewarding yourself, asking someone else to check in on you and see how much progress you’ve made also can help keep you working hard. Having that extra pressure to show the person who’s checking on you that you’re doing a good job could be the extra pressure you need to stop procrastinating.
If you don’t have anyone around to hold you accountable, here are a few apps that help you get motivated, stay focused, and kick your procrastination habit:
Procrastination is something you will have to work on improving over time. The more you work on it, the less you will do it. Alexander Graham Bell once said, “The only difference between success and failure is the ability to take action.”