4 Steps to Overcoming Procrastination

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Procrastination is a very serious issue for some people. I pride myself on being a hard worker and in general, don’t mind working long hours. Still, there are times when I don't feel like getting work done. I hate to admit it, but I procrastinate too. We all have those days, but for some of us, procrastination is a chronic problem. Some of us seem to be born that way too. Neither my daughter nor son likes to do chores, but my daughter is able to bite her teeth and struggle through it while my son just delays and delays anything he needs to do. It shows up with school work too. Both my kids go to after-school math lessons and they both hate it. However, my daughter is able to do her work on her own because she just wants to get it over with while I have to constantly remind my son to get the homework done every single week. For some people, procrastination is something that occurs far more often than they would like.

If you procrastinate regularly, it's a good idea to take steps to overcome it. Putting off something relative unimportant on occasion is one thing; constantly failing to meet your obligations, or putting things off so long that getting them done on time requires a rush, and a decrease in quality, is something else altogether.

Procrastination can result in problems with productivity, as well as causing issues in other parts of your life. If you want to overcome procrastination, here are 4 steps you can take:

1. Figure Out Why You Procrastinate

The first step to overcoming any problem or changing any habit is figuring out the why behind it. Why do you procrastinate? Do you feel overwhelmed, and unsure of where to start? Sometimes, when you're afraid of failure, it's easier to fail because you didn't try, rather than because you crashed and burned. Take a look at why you are procrastinating, and then address that issue.

One of the reasons why my son doesn’t want to do homework is because he is choosing between playing on his iPad or working. When given those choices, the answer is of course obvious. I’ve learned to limit his iPad time even when he has nothing else to do. It’s definitely helped him whine less when it’s time for work.

2. Start Small

Take small steps to make improvements. Whether you are working on a big project, or just trying to get to work on time, it's a good idea to start small. If you feel uncertain about your ability to complete a project, break it down into smaller parts. If you want to change a habit, create a plan with small steps that allows you to make small improvements, a little bit at a time. Like paying off your debt, you should create small milestones that allow you to accomplish your goals and find success.

3. Reward Yourself

Set up a system of rewards so that you can measure progress. Many of us like to feel as though we are moving forward. The feeling of being stuck in a rut - and unable to get out - is one of the reasons many people procrastinate. A rewards system can help you feel as though you are moving forward, and give a bit of an emotional boost. When you feel better about your situation, you are more likely to want to continue making improvements. As you work toward and achieve various goals, you will be more likely to continue in your efforts.

I’ve begun to let my son play on his iPad every time he’s finished his school work. He still has his time limits so he’s still playing the same amount of time, but the psychology of knowing he can play as soon as he’s finished what needs to be done is an essential life skill that will help him far beyond his school career.

4. Set Up a System of Accountability

It's important to have a measure of accountability as well. One way to motivate yourself to get the job done is to make a public posting. This can be especially effective if you care about what others think about you. At the very least, surround yourself with friends and relatives who are willing to support you. You can let them know your plans and they can help you stay on track. As you create your plan and work on your projects, report to someone about your progress.

Obviously, my son won’t be telling people about his progress because he doesn’t even know that I’m helping him overcome procrastination yet. However, I’m still mentally tracking what I do and articulating my strategy through this post. By hearing myself read my own writing when I’m editing this post, I can make sure that what I’m doing makes sense and that I’m on the right track. It seems so far that I am.

Bottom Line

Follow these steps, and you will increase your chances of overcoming procrastination. Lastly, here’s what I’ve told my daughter about procrastinating that’s helped her. If you think about it, doing things right away and doing them at the last minute takes just as much time. However, the beauty of working on the tasks earlier is that you get to mentally cast that burden aside once you are done.

I used to procrastinate a bit more too, but I find that I spend so much of my mental energy stressing about the same thing over and over. It’s like your email inbox. If you look at the emails and don’t reply, then you end up looking at the subjects and sometimes even reread the same emails over and over. It’s just easier to reply right away and move on. When I’m the most relaxed, it’s when I know that I’ve done what needed to be done and I can just do whatever I want. Don’t you want to be more relaxed too? You can only stop worrying about getting things done if that thing you are worried about is actually done. It's okay to take a day off every now and again of course, but you don't want procrastination to become a habit. Overcome the temptation of delay to accomplish more.

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