I’ve struggled far too often with procrastination.
Today I’m telling myself I should get this next promotion up on my website. But it involves some new skills– and I find that a little intimidating; besides, look at all the other things begging for my attention! So, there the promotion reminder sits, day after day, becoming more and more drenched in guilt. I’ll get to it; right after I write this blog!
I’ve had a lot of experience with my procrastination habit, and I’ve found a few techniques that help me get even the most unpleasant tasks done. I hope they work for you, too. Read all the way to the bottom for one of the most powerful tips. Good luck!!
Make a list of the things you both want and need to get done in the near future. Breathe and tell yourself that you do Not have to get it all done today.
Identify today’s tasks. Put a star next to the ones that must be done today. For example, “order ___” or “shop for food” or “write ___ report.” Write these items on a new list so it doesn’t look so long and overwhelming. (Place a “?” next to ones you’re not sure about.)
Identify important, but not urgent, items. On the first big list, circle the ones that will ultimately improve your life or work. For example, “exercise” or “meet with ___ (an emotionally healthy friend)” or “write __proposal.” Put those important-but-not-urgent items on a different list and schedule them in your calendar. I sometimes place a “?” next to each one to indicate that if I don’t get to it, I can move it to another day. (But I never delete it!)
Here’s how to get started on today’s list.
1 Pick one easy thing to do first. Do that one thing and pat yourself on the back. Then go get a cup of coffee or tea. Smile!
2 Return to your work space and look at the item you just crossed off. Breathe in and feel good about doing that one thing. Do NOT think about the rest of the list for now.
3 Select another item and proceed as in steps 1 and 2.,
4 If you get tense, worried, or resistant: Go somewhere private. Take a few belly-inflating breaths and loosen your jaw and shoulders. Get quiet. Tell yourself, “I only need to do one more thing on this list. I can come back to it later. It will all get done.” Then return to the list and select another item.
Here’s another powerful tip: Set a timer for 5–15 minutes and tell yourself you can stop working on the list when it rings. If you feel like continuing when it rings, then set it for another 5–15 minutes. This “takes you off the hook” of thinking that the only success is finishing the entire list, and allows you to congratulate yourself for completing the 5–15 minutes instead.
I hope these tips help you beat the procrastination habit. They sure work for me!
Gigi Langer is a former “Queen of Worry.” She’s also an educator, speaker, and author of 50 Ways to Worry Less Now, winner of the Indie Excellence Award. Learn to defeat negative thinking, find inner peace, attain clarity, and improve relationships–no matter what is going on in your life! Available through Amazon (5 stars), Barnes and Noble, and e-book sites.
Langer holds a PhD in Psychological Studies in Education and an MA in Psychology, both from Stanford. As Georgea M. Langer, she’s published several books for teachers and school administrators.