I have previously written about procrastination, as it’s so easy to (inadvertently) engage in it (see my article about Procrastination: What it is and why we do it?). As with most things in life that aren’t considered good for you, if you do it in small doses, it’s ok (we all do it, right?), but if you do it consistently, it may get in the way of your life goals, sense of purpose (as you’re not pursuing what you really want), and therefore, life satisfaction.
In this blog, I want to provide you with some procrastination strategies that you can implement, so that you don’t become a chronic procrastinator, and only use it in “good measure” (like having time out from your busy schedule). So here are six strategies to manage procrastination:
- Acknowledge the uncomfortable feelings that the task you need to do is triggering. Perhaps you feel out of your comfort zone, and the task is triggering anxiety, fear of failure, or insecurities. It’s normal to have these feelings. Or perhaps the task feels like a chore and is triggering boredom. Having the awareness that your procrastination is a way your mind found to avoid those uncomfortable feelings can, in itself, be very helpful. The next step is, of course, to make room for those feelings, so your actions are not driven by your feelings or mood in that moment, but are driven instead by your values, which lead me to my next point…
- Connect with your values and have it very clear (in your own mind) why you want to do that given task or activity. Will it contribute to your career, relationships, health or well-being? Or will it contribute to other people’s well-being in some way? When you connect with your values (e.g., working on my health, helping others, etc.), it will make it crystal-clear that you actually want to do this task (fill in the blank), because it’s important and meaningful to you, rather than coming from a sense of obligation.
- Don’t wait for motivation to come, and instead remember that action precedes motivation. In other words, you don’t need to feel motivated in order to be able to do something, and motivation is more likely to come after you have started (See? Action first, motivation comes later).
- Have a list of clear and workable goals or tasks you want to do, and then prioritise them. Now, there’s different criteria here, and not necessarily a better or worse way: you can do “worst first”, so you take it out of the way, or conversely you can start by “easy first” and then move towards more (perceived) difficult tasks. It is up to you! The important thing is to start because, as mentioned before, you’re likely to feel more motivated after you start. So committing to “just 5 minutes” might be an easy way (I still do that when it comes to my meditation practice!)
- Monitor your achievements and reward yourself for the (small and big) steps you’ve taken towards your goals. Keeping track of what you’ve accomplished will give you a sense of achievement, and that, in itself, can be very rewarding. For example, if you managed to start an exercise regime (after procrastinating about it for a while), and you’ve noticed getting fitter, that will act as a reward (the more technical term is “a positive reinforcer”- a positive consequence that follows your actions). Other times, however, the reward could be external (e.g., someone complimenting you), or could be a deliberate treat/gift you allow yourself (e.g., a professional massage), or simply some kind words to yourself (e.g., “you’ve done really well”; “I’m proud of you”; “keep going”).
- Learn to put healthy boundaries in place and to communicate them clearly using assertiveness skills. This is important because, if you have difficulties in “saying no” or a tendency to constantly please others (at the expense of your own time or health), you’re more likely to end up feeling overwhelmed by others’ requests that you were unable to politely decline. When you are assertive (i.e., able to express your opinions confidently or to say no), people will respect you, as they’ll know where they stand. (if you want to read more on assertiveness skills, please read my other blog here).
Hope these tips are helpful 🙂 Please feel free to let me know how you get on.