As I was putting off writing my weekly posts, I realized I was doing just about everything but sit down and write. As I spent a few minutes “taking a break” with a game or 3 of Minesweeper, I told myself if JK Rowling can play this game instead of write, then why can’t I?
Excuses aside, I decided to surf the internet to find out what causes procrastination and how to beat it.
Of the five or so articles I read, there were differing opinions as to the causes. Compiled in one list, I came up with:
• You don’t think you can get results because you don’t have the proper skills or resources to get the job done
• The task is too big and overwhelming
• You are unorganized
• You are crippled by perfectionism: if you can’t do it perfectly, you won’t even try
• You don’t think the task is important
• The task is unpleasant
• You don’t enjoy the task
• You don’t think you are good at the task
• You feel forced to do it
• You don’t have time to finish it now
One writer even said procrastination has nothing to do with laziness. I disagree. While not all procrastination is laziness, I know sometimes my problem is just not starting the job.
So how can we beat procrastination?
1. Break the task up into small pieces. Then just worry about getting one piece done, then then next. This way if you have limited time, you won’t feel compelled to get it all done
2. Just get started. Many times once I’ve started a task, it moves along faster than I thought it would, and I often end up enjoying it. It’s the thinking about it without acting that is so paralyzing.
3. Make a game of it. I know, this sounds silly. But for some routine or dull tasks, this might be the only way to get some pleasure out of getting them done. But don’t fall into the trap of giving yourself a reward in the form of cake or ice cream. That will only create a different problem!
4. Play mind games with yourself. If perfectionism is your problem, tell yourself any progress is better than none. If you don’t think you are good at the job, tell yourself it’s time you got some practice, and your skills will improve.
5. Prioritize your list. If there is something that you don’t think is important, than figure out if it needs to be done at all. If it does, than just do it and get it over with. If not, then scratch it off your list and forget about it.
6. Think about how good you’ll feel when you’ve gotten the tough or distasteful job over with
7. Do the task you’ve been putting off first. I’ve have found that the relief or sense of accomplishment from getting rid of a job I’ve been putting off gives me a boost of energy that carries me through a few more tasks, and suddenly I’ve got half my to-do list done.
Does anyone else have procrastination beating tricks?