With 2023 underway, it’s time we talk about a pertinent topic: procrastination. You know it well, the pesky habit that most people struggle to break at one point or another. Whether you put off cleaning your room, starting a new diet, exercising a few times per week, or even making a dentist appointment, procrastination can easily get the better of you. In fact, you may be an expert in procrastination because, now more than ever, it is too easy to put off tasks by occupying your time with other activities.
The reality is that the longer you put things off, the more overwhelming and stressful they become. This leads us to one question: Is it possible to break the cycle of procrastination and actually get things done? That’s what this article aims to help you do! Below, we explore seven excellent strategies to help you overcome procrastination and become more productive in your daily life. Oh, and don’t procrastinate on reading this article either!
Alleviate Your Anxiety
Anxiety has an interesting relationship with procrastination. When you feel anxious, you may have difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or starting tasks. What happens then? Well, you tend to avoid the task, but avoidance can increase your anxiety as the deadline to said task approaches. On the other hand, when you can efficiently manage your anxiety and feel more in control, you have a higher chance of taking action and tackling tasks head-on. There are several techniques that can help you relieve anxiety, the most popular of which include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindful meditation. Additionally, seeking support from a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional can also help you manage your anxiety and overcome procrastination.
Become A To-Do List Expert
Breaking the procrastination cycle isn’t just about breaking down each task into bite-size pieces; rather, you have to make sure those “bites” fit within your own stress threshold. What do we mean by this? You want to avoid overwhelming your system, because doing so can make the task seem even more daunting. This can cause you to avoid the task completely, but breaking each step down into smaller pieces can make the given task feel more manageable. That puts you in a position of control, which makes you feel more confident in the task you’re doing.
This tip applies to procrastination or New Year’s resolutions, or any general goal for that matter. When you establish a schedule, you want to set yourself up for success, not failure. Trying to tackle too many steps at once can lead to a bout of serious procrastination. If you aren’t a morning person and set an alarm an hour before your usual wakeup time to workout, chances are that you won’t do the exercise. You may even put off exercising for months! Schedule things at times in the day that work best for you. Work for yourself, not against yourself, and be realistic in your approach to completing tasks.
Name The Feeling
Some of you may be confused by this suggestion. How can you name your procrastination? We don’t suggest you name your procrastination Trisha, or anything like that. Sometimes, it is beneficial to put your feelings into words in order to lessen the hold they have on you. Define yourself as feeling bored, frustrated, or overwhelmed and you ultimately decrease amygdala activity. In doing so, you also increase prefrontal cortex activity, which makes it easier to get back to the task at hand.
Act Like Your Feelings Are In A Fixed State
Once you “name the feeling,” as suggested in the above tip, consider whether or not it is logical or helpful to you. Emotions can signal you, but they should never control how you act, according to mental health professionals. Start whatever task you’ve been putting off and intentionally allow yourself to feel uncomfortable. You can do this by acting as if your uncomfortable feelings are fixed. One study found that when students thought their mood could not improve, they procrastinated. They didn’t procrastinate, however, when they believed that their mood was fixed.
Say Goodbye To Excuses
“I work better under pressure.” “I’ll wait to do it until I have more time.” “I need this to happen before I can even start on that other thing.” Do any of those excuses sound familiar? You know what you need to do if you want to stop procrastinating? Stop making excuses! Be completely honest with yourself when you are making an excuse to avoid a task. It may be nice to “be in the mood” for something, but waiting for this to happen can prevent you from ever starting.
Optimize Your Environment
Your environment will either hinder or enhance your productivity. The primary thing to be aware of is technology, be it your phone, computer, or TV. If you receive notifications from emails, comments on posts, likes, or group texts, for example, you’ll check your phone more than you will work on the project. YouTube rabbit holes will also lead to procrastination. Schedule a block of time to work on a particular task and leave your phone on “Do Not Disturb” and put it away. Don’t let your phone control you, even though it easily can. Break the mold and hold off on internet searches until your productive block of time comes to a close.