My house looks pretty good right now. The dishes are put away, coffee is prepped to brew, laundry’s finished, beds are made, towels are hung up, and I’ve even pulled out tomorrow’s dinner fixings from the freezer to thaw out. Yes, the house looks pretty darn good…especially since my two year old is in preschool today and not able to mess it up! Woo-hoo!!!
Actually, I’m not being completely honest with you. My house looks great on the surface but it is in dire need of a deep-cleaning. It’s pretty bad when your daughter can make very distinguishable handprints on the coffee table because of the dust! Now that’s what my husband would call, “a clue.” It’s time to clean!
I’ve been procrastinating on deep-cleaning my house for the past week…or two. Why? Because I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed with other tasks and quite honestly, there are other things I’d rather be doing, for instance…writing this blog post. On the bright side, layers of dust, and itty, bitty crumb pieces scattered on the floor have inspired me to write a post about procrastination and how to prevent it.
So what causes procrastination? There are number of things including: fear…of failure or success, unpleasantness of the task, becoming overwhelmed with major life events, being overextended with family, friends and work obligations, being indecisive, and failing to prioritize what is important in our lives.
Can I tell you a secret? I’ve been a procrastinator most of my life. It’s all I knew and I seemed to survive just fine living my life “under pressure.” But I also lived a life of stress, irritations, barely missed deadlines, a few missed appointments and many, many, tiring “all-nighters” studying or preparing for a presentation at work. Yikes! Although I still fall victim to procrastination, I have gotten much better at not succumbing to it and have found a few methods to help combat it. Let me share them with you:
Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. Did you get that? Yes, you’ve got to prioritize. We all get sidetracked from time to time as evidenced in this video. So, you need to analyze your priorities in conjunction with your goals. Is it spending time with family, career progression, education or getting out of debt? Analyze your priorities daily, weekly and monthly to stay on track. If a task doesn’t help you to achieve them…dump it!
Learn to say “no.” Don’t take on extra tasks or get involved in unimportant things like idle chit chat at work if it’s preventing you from getting things done. Saying “no” is a powerful tool and very empowering. You don’t have to be rude. Until you get your “balance” back you can politely excuse yourself from meaningless conversations, decline to volunteer at school or church functions and not talk long on the phone.
Visualize the finish. Instead of looking at all the work it’s going to take, get motivated by visualizing the end state of a project.
Imagine your feeling of completion. How are you going to “feel” once the task is complete. Proud? Accomplished? Relieved? Less stressed? Happy? Yes!
Tune out negative self-talk. Don’t say, “I can’t.” Instead, change your thoughts to, “I can do it. I want to do this. I will do this. I’m going to “rock” at this!” This actually works.
Establish uninterrupted time. Mark on your calendar when you want to work on a project and don’t let yourself get interrupted. Turn off the TV, mute your email, don’t answer your phone, and tell the kids and family not to bother you. It’s really that simple. Try this at work too. Clear it with your boss that you need 1-2 uninterrupted hours to work on a project. It’s amazing what you can get done and you’ll probably make the boss really happy.
Establish regular routines for your recurring tasks. Block off time on your calendars solely dedicated to your recurring tasks like, checking email, calling family, exercising, grocery shopping mowing the lawn, etc. This will prevent you from trying to get these things done when you should be working on another project.
Do the tough stuff first. Get the not-so-fun and difficult tasks done first…then the rest will feel like a breeze.
Break down big projects into smaller tasks. This is key. With proper planning you can break your projects down into 15 minute to 1-2 hour sessions. This helps you stay focused instead of getting burned out trying to get it all done at once.
Peer pressure. This can actually be a good thing. Ask a friend, coworker or significant other to help keep you on track. Schedule a daily or weekly status report to them.
Establish a reward. Treat yourself when you finish your project. Maybe you could go out to dinner, read a book, buy a new pair of shoes, or treat yourself to a kid-free afternoon….well, I’d probably have to clear it with the hubby since he’ll be on papa duties (he-he).
“False Motivation Is Better Than No Motivation!” When all else fails…try this. My husband used to tell this to his students when they were dragging their feet. If you pretend a project is fun and start making light of the situation, more often than not, you’ll actually start to enjoy it! Believe me…I have to tell myself this every time I put off taking my daughter grocery shopping with me. I really don’t like it and it takes a lot of patience, but when I pretend to look forward to it and start to play with her and get her involved in the shopping, I end up having a blast with her!
So as you can see, there are several ways to combat procrastination. Just try one or two of these suggestions and you’ll notice how much easier it is to get things done. Not to mention you’ll be a lot less stressed.
By the way…when I took a break from this blog, I was able to finish cleaning my house!!! I did it by following my own advice above by: visualizing the finish, doing the tough stuff first and establishing a reward for myself…peanut butter chocolate!!!