Four tips for overcoming procrastination
By Anne Bachrach
Bachrach & Associates
Have you ever procrastinated on something before? Have you ever wondered why you procrastinate on some things and not others? For those of you who are familiar with procrastination, the issue is, how can you stop procrastinating and start taking action?
Before you read over some common tips, first try and analyze your own circumstances. Remember that most cases of procrastination are caused by some primary motivations. First, the person may be carrying self-limiting beliefs. When a person has a self-limiting belief he or she will make excuses about why the idea for change wouldn’t work and why it’s not even worth trying. You might say that procrastination is the last resort to avoid taking action.
There are two types of procrastinators to consider.
1. The first type can be called a relaxed procrastinator. This person tends to view their responsibilities (or perhaps their opportunities) in a negative light. They then try and avoid these responsibilities by redirecting their energy into other tasks — usually mundane tasks that offer nothing else but a quick distraction from the more important goal.
You could say that this type of procrastination is a form of denial. The person may not even want help from others because they are only craving instant gratification. This is the type of person who may dream of better things but decide in the end that they're not worth pursuing because they don’t want to do the real work. It is much easier to do less or just a little than all the work required to achieve the goals. It is easier to do the easy things first and put the harder but more impactful things off until some other time.
2. The second type of procrastinating personality is known a “tense-afraid” type. This person is not motivated by instant gratification or laziness; rather they seek to avoid anxiety. They are easily overwhelmed by responsibility and pressure. It doesn’t help that they tend to have no concept of time, can struggle with self-esteem and are unsure about their long-term goals. When a person is unsure about their long-term goals, then setting short ones and following through on them can be twice as difficult. The goals they do come up with are often highly unrealistic and the result is just more stress — the normal anxieties associated with life, plus the anxiety that comes from putting off important issues.
If you have a problem with procrastination, then try analyzing your present circumstances. Determine first if you are happy with the ways things are progressing. If not, then agree that it is time to make some changes. Reevaluate the goals you have and start setting more goals. Then create a progressive plan that gets you to where you want to be (personally and professionally) and within a time frame that is doable. Four tips for overcoming procrastination
Now that you have objectively analyzed your circumstances and procrastinating tendencies, it’s time for you to go on the defensive and tackle this self-defeating habit.
Tip 1: Start on the most basic level by treating your body and mind to a system of reward and punishment. When you complete a goal as stated, reward yourself. When you procrastinate, you get nothing. Not only does this train your mind to work harder, it also provides motivation for when you work — to get to the finish line and claim your reward.
You might create different levels of rewards. The more you accomplish, the bigger the reward. The reward should be on par with the achievement. For example, if you have a revenue goal of earning $10,000 within a certain period of time and you hit that goal, you don’t want to go out and buy something that costs $11,000.
Tip 2: Another tip that might prove helpful is to try to break down large projects. Some people’s natural inclination is to avoid large projects; they seem very daunting at first glance. However, once you break large projects into smaller pieces, it is easier to get started and manage. Take one day’s worth of activity and break it apart into smaller goals.
Tip 3: It will also help to prioritize your assignments. Make a list of all your things to do and put them in order of importance. The activities that have the highest probability of helping you achieve your goals would be ranked as the most important. You can cross off items as you complete them. This will help you organize your workload.
Tip 4: Don’t underestimate the advantages that enlisting a friend, acquaintance or peer might bring. When you get someone else involved, you are essentially tag teaming your way to success. Two heads are always better than one, especially when you are accountable to that other person. Fighting such a battle on your own can be difficult, but when you bring in someone else to help fend off the threat of procrastination, your odds are improved.
For the best results, find another person and work towards a solution together. Make a pledge to one another that you will both help each other with your goals, reporting to each other on a regular basis. You could work out a system where you each perform a weekly task at the time same time. Maybe at the end of each week, you have a small discussion, reviewing your efforts so far and your commitment to the next things on your list.
Remember that procrastination never pays off for anyone, whereas when you take certain action — even if it’s unsuccessful — you can always learn from the outcome. Most people who suffer from this condition are not selfish, nor do they have a clinical disorder. They are simply everyday people with big dreams who need a little push in the right direction.
Maybe it’s time you reevaluate their life and your deeper motivations. You can rely on this person to help you overcome procrastination and achieve all your goals and ultimately enjoy what is important to you.
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