Everyone is occasionally tempted to pull on their sweat pants, curl up on the couch, turn on Netflix and turn off and tune out the world. We live in trying times, and sometimes it seems that what lies ahead is overwhelming, too big for any one human being to tackle, solve and move on. Sound familiar?
Procrastinating means not doing what you should, what you must to live an extraordinary life. While it’s a human foible most everyone falls prey to sometimes, the fact that it’s commonplace doesn’t mean you should succumb to it. Procrastination will, if you let it, derail your life and prevent you from achieving real change, change for the better that makes life more fulfilling and satisfying.
Here are a few suggestions on what you can do when procrastination threatens to hamper your day, your week, or even your life:
1) Involve Someone In Your Goals: When you have committed to someone else, it’s tougher to bail on the task or dream because it’s not just you who is disappointed. For example: let’s say that when 2020 began, you promised yourself you would work out regularly. But it’s cold and damp outside, and you’re exhausted at the end of a busy day at work. That Netflix movie you’ve heard so much about it calling your name.
But, if you join a class or a gym with a friend or colleague, it’s hard to back out. That’s the great thing about bonding with others; we feel obliged to follow through on our promises. The upside is that following through for them means you follow through with yourself, too. It’s a win-win, no matter how you slice it.
2) Break That Task Down: If you set a goal, let’s say “be rich by the time I’m 30!” you are setting yourself up for failure, and for being overwhelmed. The goal is fine; it’s the vagueness that’s problematic. Instead, ask yourself where you want to be at 25, 27, and 29. What field do you want to be in, and what education do you need to achieve success? Instead of the end goal, focus on the one right in front of you, like getting all “As” at university this year. That’s more practical, and more manageable.
3) Turn Off Social Media Alerts: This is a tough one, we know. But if you’re procrastinating about finishing the monthly report for your boss, the last distraction you need is Facebook alerting you that a friend has updated her vacation photos. Prioritize your project over everything else; you can get back to connecting when it’s done. And if you can’t turn off those feeds for a few hours, you’ve got bigger problems than a late report!
4) Let Your Anxiety Fuel You: Stop fidgeting nervously and get down to business — writing the report, the assignment, getting the bills paid — whatever it is you are procrastinating about. The anxiety you’re feeling can morph into positive energy if you let it. Look at your task from a different point of view, as something you want to do, not something you have to do. Describe it with relish, not dread. Language makes a big difference even when we are only talking to ourselves, so decide you want to do this, rather than viewing it as a boring task. Think of the reward at the end — the feeling of pride and accomplishment that comes with a job well done.
Even paying bills can be rewarding because you should take a moment to relish this: you earned the money to pay them. That feels good, right?
Procrastinating is one of our worst tendencies as people, and we all do it, to a greater or lesser degree. These strategies will help you overcome the habit, so remember them the next time you’re putting something off that needs to be done. And remember — only you can truly change how and when you accomplish things in life. Decide right now you won’t put off changing and achieving more even a moment longer.