I often wonder if hard core procrastinators read articles about procrastination. I imagine they come in pretty handy when a big project is due and you’re looking for something to help you procrastinate. Procrastination has degrees of severity. Once you’ve determined your degree of procrastination and why you can begin to overcome this nasty habit and be a more productive you.
Degrees of procrastination
Determining your degree of procrastination is a matter of deciding what you consider to be the least damaging behaviours to the most. The least harmful behaviours of procrastination can be determined according to consequence. What will happen if you procrastinate on a particular project, for example, cleaning out that spare bedroom? If reading an article on procrastination instead of cleaning out the spare bedroom means your daughters have to share a room for yet another night isn’t a dire consequences then that can be your starting point or 1.
If on the other hand reading an article and several other articles on procrastination means putting off a work project, again, and your boss has warned you about missing another deadline, that would be considered dire, thus your ending point or 10. On a scale of 1 – 10 where would do you fit in? It’s important to be honest if you want to break your cycle of procrastination.
Figuring out why
The next step is to determine why you procrastinate. If you truly want to understand your procrastination find a pencil, a piece of paper and a shady tree or cozy window chair and write. Write down what kinds of projects make you procrastinate. When I was in university I had difficulty sitting down and writing essays. I started out with a stream of consciousness writing exercise. I just wrote down anything and everything that came to mind, whether it was relevant or not. Once I was finished I put it away until I had sufficiently switched my brain off the subject.
After going through my dribble of thoughts, I sorted through it by putting the information into charts with three simple headings; relevant, non-relevant and why. I wanted to know why so anything that answered the question it went under that heading. By the end of the exercise I could see, very plainly, that I was frustrated by the level of detail needed for a bibliography. I had an aversion to detail. Once I was able to answer why, I had a solution. My solution was to hire someone to do the bibliography.
3 easy steps to help overcome procrastination
Ok understanding the why determines the how; how to overcome procrastination, how to stay on track and how to move forward.
1) Overcoming procrastination means minimizing the procrastinators dialogue; I have lots of time, I really need to do the dishes or some other irrelevant task, I work better under pressure, it won’t take very long. Changing this conversation is key to changing the behaviour. Every action begins with a thought, by changing the thought you change the action.
2) Begin with tasks that will take an hour or less, by taking on small tasks you get yourself in the “mood” or “zone”. Like anything else a warm up is required to make sure everything is running smoothly.
3) Forgive yourself and move forward. No matter what happens always keep moving forward, and don’t dwell. Remember the little engine that could. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can – until you do!
Procrastination is a defense mechanism, your job is to figure out what your brain is defending. Overcoming procrastination is a process therefore take your time, forgive yourself and always move forward.