Procrastination is one of those perennial problems. It seems everyone suffers from it at least some of the time, and there’s no one solution that always works.
But there are a few solutions that are pretty reliable at breaking you out of the procrastination rut. In fact, I think these are about the best procrastination busters there are.
Procrastination Buster #1: Do Anything
Often we procrastinate because we want to avoid something difficult or overwhelming. A challenging phone call, a nerve-wracking presentation, a project that’s huge and confusing. If it’s a choice between facing the too-hard thing and checking Facebook, then it’s no surprise the blue F wins every time.
Instead, a good way to step way from the browser and get back to work is to do something other than the hard thing. Work on a simpler project, make an easier call, choose something from your to-do list that doesn’t make you want to run screaming from your desk.
‘But wait!’, you exclaim, ‘If I’m going to do anything, I really should do [insert hard thing]’.
Well, that’s precisely the kind of thinking that activates your procrastination response. It’s like saying, ‘Here, eat this entire cabbage or some chocolate’. I mean, seriously.
By making it easier to stay at your desk – by offering yourself something a bit healthy and a bit yummy – you put yourself in a much stronger position to work up to the hard thing.
- You start to break the procrastination habit. You’re at your desk working, instead of Facebooking or texting a friend. This affects your self-concept, even in the short term. You see yourself as productive.
- You gain confidence. As you tackle tasks, you feel surer of yourself. Those big challenges start to feel less onerous. You did this, you can do that.
- You gain momentum. It becomes easier to do the next thing, and the next. After a little while, continuing becomes easier than stopping.
So, next time you find yourself fighting your procrastination demons, try picking something less torturous from your task list. Don’t over-think it. Just pick something and start. Do anything.
It’s a super-effective way to build procrastination immunity.
Next time: Procrastination Buster#2.[Image by Viktor Hertz.]