Allow me to introduce you to Misti, the Founder and Chief Advyzzor of Whyzze – a startup that provides personal, professional and creative advice. She has a background in both traditional and digital marketing and is here to share her expertise as it pertains to better decision making in life. Her background is different than most of the Eat. Drink & be Skinny contributors in that she’s not an avid healthy pantry chef, stretching us to bring out our best yogi spirit or inspiring us with wicked fast runner feet. She’s a successful entrepreneur with a eye and a mind for what can and will be successful. Enjoy!
I know I ought to do it, but ugh, I really don’t wanna do it. I’ll just check my email first, then I’ll do it.
Does the above scenario sound familiar? Almost everyone procrastinates at some point in their lives. However, all too often, wasting time becomes an everyday habit.
Why We Procrastinate
The most fundamental reason why people procrastinate is to avoid discomfort; whether that’s physical, mental or emotional.
“The most fundamental reason why people procrastinate is to avoid discomfort.”
If you consider any activity you continually put off – exercising, starting a business, cleaning out your closet – there are negative feelings attached to it. Scrolling through Facebook, checking email, or watching TV generally erase those negative feelings; therefore they become go-to stress relievers and procrastination enablers.
Are We Born to Procrastinate?
Quite a few professionals consider procrastination to be a learned behavior, not an innate one. Dr. Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D., psychology professor and author of the book, Still Procrastinating: The No Regret Guide to Getting It Done, believes the way you were raised may affect your propensity to procrastinate.
Ferrari suggests that controlling or authoritarian parenting styles may cause children to delay completing tasks, either out of fear of failure and punishment or as a way to rebel. If an overbearing parent demands, “do this now or else,” the child may put off doing the task in order to assert control. That fear or rebellion then becomes engrained in the child’s day-to-day actions until it’s a way of life.
Whether it’s a result of your environment or you’re a born procrastinator, how can you stop putting off until tomorrow what you were supposed to do yesterday?
Strengthen Your Core
At the core of procrastination is weak willpower. And, as you know, a weak core can lead to a host of other problems. To combat this, you need to strengthen your core. There are hundreds of tips for overcoming procrastination. Below are the top six ways that have yielded the most success and helped more people go from dawdling to done.
1. Create habits
The fewer decisions you have to make the more you can accomplish. This is because decision-making requires energy. If you use that energy on unimportant tasks, you’ll have very few reserves left for to-dos that actually matter. Make a daily or weekly schedule you can follow regardless of where you are – i.e. wake up at the same time, do 25 pushups while the shower heats up, meal prep every Sunday…
2. Make if/then plans ahead of time
Let’s be realistic – schedule changes will occur. Having an ‘if/then’ backup plan will help you stay the course. Let’s say you’ve decided to make going to bed every night at 9:30pm and getting up at 5:30am to exercise a habit. If you know you’re going to have a late night (which means waking up at 5:30am ‘ain’t gonna happen’), switch your workout to the afternoon or evening. Or stick to your morning workout but make it shorter.
“If I’m going to go to bed late,
then I’ll workout at lunch.”
3. Combine tasks with habits
Whether this means doing squats while you brush your teeth or completing one or two Spanish lessons while eating breakfast, combining tasks with habits allows you to complete things you normally don’t get around to doing with things you automatically do.
4. Start small
It’s highly unlikely you’re going to go from couch potato to triathlete overnight. But if you want to tackle something you’ve been putting off, start small. Do one pushup, hold a plank for one second, or execute one perfect squat every day. Start with an amount you can easily achieve and add onto it every week.
5. Get clarity
A procrastination study by Dr. Sean McCrea, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Konstanz in Germany, showed that people are more likely to complete a task and complete it on time if they’re given concrete responsibilities and clear instructions. Conversely, they tend to put off tasks they feel are abstract or unclear. So, instead of generalizing, make very clear lists and ensure you know exactly what needs to be done by when for each item.
6. ‘The One Night Stand’ method:
If it looks like a bomb went off in your room, you might consider shutting the door and letting it stay messy forever. But, if you start with getting one small area – like one nightstand – clean and tidy, the task is no longer as daunting. In the same way, break your huge projects into mini tasks and the project as a whole won’t be as overwhelming.
Granted, each of these tips takes some work on your part and you’re not always going to feel like doing them. However, combining as many of these strategies as possible can help you stop procrastinating and become more productive.
Do you have other ways that have helped you break your dilly-dallying cycle? Add them to the comments below?