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Hello, Beautiful! Have you been procrastinating on something?? I’ve been MIA this week because I had a major paper due for my doctoral program and was procrastinating until the last minute week. In my defense, I read the assignment wrong, and didn’t realize it was much more encompassing than I had realized (it WAS called a “Major Final project” after all – which should have been a big clue!).
Anyway, avoiding this paper got me thinking about procrastination [which we all do], why we do it, and how we can NOT do it anymore!
WHY We Procrastinate
Avoiding Discomfort – This is definitely my number one! I was unsure of exactly what was being asked for part of my assignment, which makes writing it uncomfortable. So I looked for ANYTHING else to do to avoid that squirmy feeling when you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s amazing how even the grossest tasks become oh-so-important when you are avoiding something else.
I’ll bet I have the cleanest bathroom on the western side of Alaska at the moment (that’s not really my bathroom – but it just looked so sparkly!)!!
Have you set some goals that are out of your comfort zone? That almost sets us up for failure – because we put off what we’re not comfortable doing!
Fear of Failure – Back to the goals again. Why should I start that diet, I’ll just give up in a week!
Stop it! You CAN be successful even if it takes several tries!
You’re Out of Whack – That can mean emotionally or physically. If you’re tired or hungry or stressed, you’re not going to want to do an unpleasant or challenging task. We need to take care of our basic needs before we can get something accomplished. Take a walk to clear your mind; take a quick nap (like 30 minutes, tops!) to feel refreshed; eat some fresh veggies or a handful of nuts.
Lack of Momentum – If you’re a task-oriented person like me, and things aren’t moving along like you think they should be (like a major project such as organizing or remodeling), you’ll avoid ALL of it, instead of tackling it in chunks (oops, now we’re getting in to the how!).
SO what CAN you do to STOP PROCRASTINATING?
#1 Break it down – Many projects are so overwhelming, you just can’t start. This is where lists are great. Write down all the parts that need to be done, and then prioritize them.
We had put off remodeling our house for a few years because there were just so many things that needed to be done to get our house out of the 90s, we’d just do nothing. Recently, we decided to get serious on the remodel, so started by making a grand “wish list.” At that time, nothing was off the table. Then we prioritized by need (new roof was a must!), then moved to want (love the clean look of a white quartz countertop!). Then, financial reality took many things off the list (Steam? Hot tub? Okay, not necessities!).
But when we were done, we had a manageable list where we could begin at the beginning and work our way down through it.
#2 Make a timeline – This sort of goes with breaking it down, above. I knew I had five days to finish my paper, and one part of the paper was annotating 25 articles. I wanted the last day for finalizing and proofreading; so I set a goal of seven articles each night. That way, if I didn’t get all seven done, I still had a little cush on the last night. One night I actually exceeded the seven, so only needed to do two last night! (Yay me). By setting the timeline, I knew that I would be able to finish my project in a timely manner without the big stress at the end (which I have had on more than one occasion – and it’s not fun!).
#3 Move around – Try to do the task in a new place, if possible. I usually sit on the couch with my laptop and coffee. Today I moved to my desk (that wasn’t my real bathroom, but this IS my real desk!), and even plugged in to my larger monitor to establish an academic mindset. [Right now, I’m back on the couch, which is why I got distracted and started to write this!]
#4 Reward Yourself (or punish yourself – but who wants that?!) – I love quilting, and since I don’t have a great space to do it in my small rental house, I like to get together with the ladies in the quilt guild here in town to work on my projects. That’s a reward for me. If I don’t have my paper done, I won’t be able to join them on Sunday afternoon (punishment). So, I’ve done double-time on the paper these last couple of nights so I’ll be able to quilt tomorrow.
#5 Be Accountable – Some people do fine with a to-do list. I love the satisfaction of checking things off (and yes, I’m one of those who will even add something to a list just for the fun of crossing it off!).But if that’s not enough to get you motivated,find a buddy. Tell them what you want to do and ask them to check back with you on your progress. If your buddy is someone who has already accomplished the task, they can offer you suggestions, or just be there to encourage you.
#6 Identify time-wasters. Do you spend hours perusing Facebook? (True confession: That’s mine!). Get hooked on television shows? Watch cute kitten videos? Figure out the little time-suckers in your life (no, you can’t count your children!). How can you either eliminate that from your life, or at least cut down the amount of time you spend on it? I do build in FB time (called “Internet” on my weekly schedule) so I don’t feel deprived, but I set a timer, so when the 30 minutes is up, I’m on to the next thing.
#7 Reanalyze and reprioritize. If you’ve REALLY been putting something off for a long time, maybe you need to step back and reassess. Is it really as important now as it was when you originally planned to do it? Have other (real and important, not perceived!) things become a priority? It’s okay to change your mind – not because you don’t want to do it – but because it’s just not that important anymore.
#8 Get realistic – Are you waiting for a “perfect time” to finish something? Well, guess what, that time is not coming. Of course, my mind jumps to people talking about having children. If Mark and I had waited for the perfect time, we’d be childless. But I digress… Even with smaller tasks, most often you have to MAKE time. [If you have troubling fitting everything in, check out my time management plan.]
#9 Just Do It! Maybe Nike was on to something with their slogan. This morning I had to get up and instead of following my usual [beloved] routine, I got my cup of coffee and went straight to my paper. I had actually set it up the night before so when I opened my laptop it was the first thing I saw so I wouldn’t get distracted. Sometimes we need to just take action and complete the task at hand!
And finally –
#10 Give yourself a break. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons for not getting something done. We all lead busy lives, and unless it’s a life or death thing, recognize that every day is a new day. If it didn’t get done yesterday, you can try again tomorrow.
And now, enough procrastination on my part. I’m off to FINISH MY PAPER!!!
What do you find yourself procrastinating on? Which of these things can you do to be more productive?