How many of us find ourselves saying “I’ll do it tomorrow”? Whether it’s starting a diet, going to the gym, reading a book or paying a bill, we procrastinate when we don’t want to go out of our way to do something.
It can be hard to admit that we often like to put things off until the last minute. It’s something we’ve all done – some of us may do it more often than others. Life can definitely get hectic and it is easy to procrastinate on school work, house work or other tasks when they aren’t initially pressing issues.
It’s easy to tell yourself after enduring the stress of procrastination that you won’t do it next time. If you’ve actually figured out how not to procrastinate you might make it sound easy, telling others that there are simple ways to avoid it. For many of us, it’s not as easy as reminding ourselves to stop. Habits don’t change in a day to last in the long run. This doesn’t mean that it’s not possible. It definitely is. It just might take a little more effort and mindfulness than what comes naturally to us.
Why Do We Procrastinate?
Why do we procrastinate? One answer may be that we like to choose instant gratification over rational decision making. When we weigh options in our mind of what we can do in the present moment, do we do the thing that will bring us more joy or comfort at the time or do we do the thing that will be more taxing on us now, but bring us those feelings later?
Even when we have learned lessons from the past where consequences resulted from choosing that instant gratification by procrastinating on the task that actually would have been more beneficial, we continue to fall into the trap. It makes sense, I must say. We live in a world that moves at a faster pace than ever before and when we want something, we want it as fast as possible. Our brains have become trained to think this way as we unintentionally conform with society, so we often push away tasks that take longer to get the desired result.
Procrastination happens because of negative emotions associated with a task and we must learn to overcome the defeating feelings of negativity and learn to persevere despite those feelings.
How To Be More Mindful
Becoming more aware of what leads us to procrastinate can be a good start. If we can identify the negative feelings surrounding any task that make us want to put it off, then we can start to determine ways to work through those feelings.
Once we are aware of what is going on and the root of the problem, we can attempt to make the change. For example, if you know that you put off homework often when you are in your dorm or apartment, think about why that is. What are you trading off instead of getting that homework done? Chances are it’s a distraction such as your TV, video games, other roommates, or food, for example. If something in a certain setting is causing you to put off the less interesting tasks, change up the setting and find out how that changes what you’re able to do.
By identifying the alternative tasks that tempt you, you can try to remove those from the equation. If you are aware of the present situation and what is necessary and important, you will begin to better accept those situations. Mindfulness is key in being able to look at certain aspects of life with a different perspective which can be beneficial in the long run.
Tips and Tricks
In addition to making mindfulness a part of your day, there are other tips and tricks you can try in an attempt to procrastinate less.
Focus on organization. Do you use a calendar or a planner of some sort to write your due dates on? It is helpful to be able to somehow visualize what you need to do and when you need to do it. That way you can either physically or mentally check tasks off as you complete them, and seeing a due date looming overhead may cause you to want to get it out of the way so you don’t have to keep thinking about it.
Set yourself deadlines when they aren’t set for you. When you know you want to get something done, but there is no time limit, you will not prioritize it. For example, you might be meaning to paint your bedroom a new color or organize your office. No one is holding you accountable to get these tasks done but yourself, so it is up to you to determine when and how you’re going to do it.
Set small checkpoints. Often the most overwhelming part of a task is the end product or goal. It can be hard to envision when so much needs to happen to get there. This is another reason to procrastinate, so if you break up what needs to be done into smaller sections that you can tackle in little bits, you may find it easier to not put it off.
Create incentives. Over time, you can train your brain to associate doing a task you don’t like with a reward. For you coffee lovers, maybe your favorite caffeinated beverage can be your reward. Set a goal for yourself and designate a way that you will reward yourself. This way you not only do you get the satisfaction of knowing that you completed the task but you get something satisfactory in addition.
Tackling the procrastination problem is no easy feat, but it is possible. While it may seem daunting to complete tasks that are less than favorable, using some of these approaches could be beneficial in improving your overall efficiency.
~Written by my friend, Lauren
Good Afternoon Coffee Addicts,
I think we’ve all been in a place where we’ve decided to put something off for a later time. Like Lauren was saying, organization definitely helps out. Having a to-do is a great way of reminding you of what you still need to and it is extremely gratifying to cross off that last check mark of the day.
As always I hope you’ve learned something new. Take care and we’ll chat soon.