Overcoming Procrastination

procrastinationProcrastination got you down? Try these simple tips to help get moving:

Watch Your Negative Self-Talk

Watch out for that critical inner voice. Change your “I should…” statements to “I would like to…” or “I want to…” When we “should” ourselves, we increase negative self-talk and wind up feeling even worse. And when we feel badly, we become less motivated and our thoughts begin a negative spiral. Therefore, the next time you catch yourself saying something like “I really should work on that project right now…” try this instead: “I would like to start on that project right now because I will have more free time later.”

Watch the “What if” statements, too. Anxiety is procrastination’s BFF. “What if I start and I don’t understand?” “What if it’s painful/uncomfortable/boring….best just to avoid, then I don’t have to deal with it.” Sound familiar? Like the ostrich with its head in the sand, we avoid things that we don’t think we can deal with or that might make us uncomfortable. Procrastinators often “awfulize” or “catastrophize” by assuming the worst possible outcome in a given situation. We tell ourselves that it is going to be awful, tragic, overwhelming, insurmountable. While it may be difficult or uncomfortable, it likely will not be as bad as you imagine. Therefore, keeping things in perspective and assessing the likelihood of feared outcomes is a step towards curbing anxiety and away from procrastination.

Promote Positive Self-Talk

Imagining the positive benefits of getting something done can help you muster the motivation to get started. For example, if you have been putting off getting that spare bedroom cleaned up, try saying to yourself, “I would like to get that room cleaned up
because I feel good when my home is organized.” Putting off organizing paperwork or doing your taxes? Try telling yourself, “I really want to get started on my taxes because it will be a real load off my mind. And when I’m done, I will have more time to focus on other things. I may even get a refund!”

Divide and Conquer

Break larger tasks down into manageable pieces. Large tasks, projects, etc. can feel
overwhelming at the outset. But setting a realistic, manageable, interim goals will help you get started.

Set a time limit. Giving yourself permission to stop after a short period of time helps reduce pressure and can make tasks feel more manageable. For example, if you want to get back into a workout routine, don’t jump back in where you left off. Instead, tell yourself that you will move for 15 minutes today and increase your goal one minute per day. Use a program like the Pomodoro technique to learn to manage your time.

Seek Help

Make a commitment to a friend or family member for accountability, join an online support group, or share your progress online. Sharing positive results reinforces motivation and feels good. Having an accountability partner can help us stick to our goals.

If you find it hard to stay focused and on task, you may have a mood disorder or ADD/ADHD. Contact a professional for an evaluation.

Develop a Reward System

Give yourself a reward! Let yourself relax or engage in a pleasurable activity once you complete your goal. Give yourself credit for a job well done or trying out a new behavior. Making changes is always difficult – make sure you give credit where credit is due!

If you’d like more help with getting things done and being more successful, contact our office and schedule an appointment with one of our therapists. We’d love to help!