Do you procrastinate? Or as one dictionary definition stated, do you ‘delay or postpone action or put things off?’. Did you know that procrastination increases your stress levels? In this blog, I share the causes of procrastinating. I also share my top tips to help you stop procrastinating so you can feel less stressed.
If you want to stop procrastinating so you can feel less stressed, start by working out which of these affects you. Then try the tip to overcome your procrastinating.
1. You avoid the big jobs
When given a choice between a big or a small task, we will often choose the latter. Completing small tasks gives us a quick hit of dopamine from the success we experience. A big task can feel like a tunnel with no light at the end. This makes us more likely to avoid starting because we cannot see the end.
To overcome this habit, break down a big task into bite size chunks and celebrate each step of success. Get clear about what each step of success will look like so you know when you have reached it.
2. You don’t start tasks which need something from someone else
If a task needs communication or action from someone else it can feel harder to start. We will put it to one side to avoid failure because of someone else not doing their part of the task.
Clearly communicate the deadline to the other person. Make sure you can continue with other important tasks while you are waiting. Use praise to encourage the other participant and keep them on track. If someone keeps getting in the way of you completing your tasks, you might consider finding another person to work with.
3. You avoid complicated tasks
For some tasks, the solution is not immediately clear and requires some investigation. It is all too easy to avoid that task to avoid failure. The inner, critical voice might say ‘what if I cannot handle this or don’t have the knowledge or ability to solve it?’
Break down the task as in point 1 but also do not be afraid to ask for help. There are people out there with a lot more knowledge than you.
4. You get distracted
We have all done it! We have all picked up our phone to add something to our diaries. We have all put that phone down 15 minutes later having no idea what we did in the meantime.
The draw of social media, email and other alerts on our phone can be too much for many of us. Every time we read a message, we get an addictive little hit of dopamine which can become very hard to resist.
Leave your phone outside your office and only picking it up when you have a list of tasks to do on it. Also, switch off all the alerts other than those you view as emergency means of contact e.g. texts. Treat email like a letter and have an ‘out of office’ which tells people that you will only check email once or twice a day.
5. You believe you work better with a short deadline
I have so many clients who have said this to me in the past. But it isn’t true. When we do things last minute we are more likely to make mistakes, forget important things and even run out of time. People who procrastinate believe this because when the deadline is near they suddenly take massive action. As a result, they develop the idea that they are better with a short deadline.
Remind yourself that taking time over a task and planning actions produces better results. It allows time for reflection, review and editing before the deadline. Think about what your future self would say about the pressure you have created. Your future self would say, ‘get started now!’
6. You cannot get started
Some people procrastinate part way through a task. Some people cannot get started at all. Not being able to get started at all, gets in the way of everything and leads to a feeling you are failing before you even get started.
If you want to get cracking with something right now, try this technique from The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins.
When you have a thought to do something, count 5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1 and do it! This method does not allow your procrastinating mind a chance to argue. You will have started a task (and finished it) before the procrastinating part of you has even got out of bed!
Stop kidding yourself!
As I complete this blog, I know I will want to go back over it again and again and even get someone else to review it too. I feel good knowing I have left myself enough time to do that. It means I am more likely to produce something I am happy with and will help people.
The next time you try to kid yourself that you work better with a short deadline or under pressure, be careful. There is no need to punish yourself with self-imposed short deadlines. Putting yourself in this situation over and over again can lead to all sorts of health problems. Stress contributes to or causes 70% of illness in the UK right now and that figure is rising. Do your best today to stop procrastinating so you can feel less stressed
It often surprises people that hypnotherapy is a great tool to overcome procrastination.