Procrastination your time has come,
If it’s on the list we get it done,
No matter my mood, I’ve made up my mind
feeling accomplished is sublime.
Break steps down into doable parts,
It doesn’t matter how you feel, it’s important you start
Trust you can do way more than you think
First step, second step, third and repeat.
Stick to it till the task’s complete.
All of us procrastinate at one time or another, but this article is for those who procrastinate often. I used to be a silver-medal procrastinator and excelled at doing my taxes after an extension, paying late fees on bills, and had piles in various creative assortments around the house. However, I have beat the problem with the tools in this article and you can do the same. With over 25 years of experience and training as a licensed psychologist, I bring solid clinical skill to the table. Below are some strategies which many people have benefited from.
1. Develop the “kick-in-the-butt” mindset and healthy proactive side to your personality – become a cheerleader of sorts that supports you in taking risks to overcome fears and applauds yourself in accomplishing small steps. Make it a habit to celebrate your accomplishments however small. Kick-in-the-butt therapy is when you say to yourself: “Come on, let’s get it done” where you are talking to your inner child. Saying things to yourself like “Come ________, let’s get going. I can do it and I will feel better after.” Or you may say to yourself “Just do it.” The point is to be firm and positive with yourself, no buts about it.
2. Use my Sticker Point Program (SPP) as a way to help yourself move forward and get things done. Below are some of the central guidelines for the SPP. Stickers work for kids and we all have that little kid inside us. If you want to use coins you can – whatever works…
I benefited from using the sticker program and have done so over the years. Currently, I am giving myself a sticker for meditating three days per week and it is important to lay the stickers out by the meditation area. This serves as a reminder to keep my commitment to myself. At the end of the week I let myself go shopping: 1) at an estate sale; 2) online; or 3) at one of my favorite consignment stores where I get great deal. I let myself enjoy the shopping, just buying one item and no more!! These are activities I love to do, so it is motivating. Make a list of fun, easy things you would enjoy doing that you can use as prizes. Let what you decide on be uniquely you!!
3. Use my 30-minutes, head-down approach that is sure to reap rewards. Let’s say you have taxes to do. You put aside 30 minutes to sit at your desk and get a number of steps done up until the 30-minute mark. Then you earn a 15-minute, guilt-free break. If you want to take your time later in the day after you have done three 30-minute blocks that is fine. However, the 30-minutes, head-down (meaning you are working) approach works well for the various procrastinators I have worked with. Certainly the 30-minute approach works well with something you do not want to do.
4. Create a list of small prizes that might be motivating to yourself. Prize yourself for each step accomplished, for making a day productive, and/or for getting your 30 minutes done. Figure out ways to get some dopamine in your brain by giving yourself something to look forward to. Research says it is the anticipation of a reward that triggers motivation, and remember motivation often comes after you get going with a project.
a) Some samples of treats might be a good Blu-Ray movie, going to a group activity, calling a friend, doing something fun with your partner or spouse, or buying some little gift. Fun gifts might be a cool pair of socks, a DVD, some weights, getting your nails done, or something healthy to eat.
5. Make it a habit to track your progress, as we human beings like the feeling that we’re progressing. Use your phone or, better yet, get a journal. For each task accomplished, write it in your book and a few lines about how you feel when it is done. You will start to notice you get good feelings as you get steps accomplished. You can also use your journal and put a sticker in it so you can visibly see your goals attained. Remember you can trade your stickers in for x amount of money that you can spend to prize yourself. Some people just like getting the stickers and give themselves a reward at the end of the week. I found I outgrew the sticker program when DOING the task started feeling good.
If you’ve tried the above tools and are still struggling with putting things off, you may be struggling with depressed procrastination where there is some underlying depression. Symptoms of depression are fatigue, insomnia, negative thinking, lack of interest in former activities, and sometimes loss of appetite. Please see a medical doctor or a licensed professional for treatment. Remember…
There is hope, there is help and it’s just a phone call away. Call 408-358-9679 for a complimentary phone consultation.