Procrastination is one of the hardest habits to break but your life will be less stressful if you learn to stop doing it.
Of all the bad habits that exist, procrastination can be one of the hardest ones to tackle. Maybe you’ll feel like tackling this bad habit next week or the week after, but not today! It is said that the hardest part of the task is beginning to do it. Once you begin to work on a problem you can usually complete it but you save unpleasant tasks for last and things begin to pile up. If you feel like your problems just keep mounting and you don’t know where to start fixing them you might be a procrastinator.
There are many reasons for procrastination. Some tasks may seem too difficult or involved so you save them for a time when you have less constraints and that time never seems to come. There are tasks that we just flat out don’t want to do, like painting the fence or cleaning the garbage cans, and so we put them out of our minds. Tasks that make us feel uncomfortable or afraid such as going to the dentist also cause us to procrastinate. If you are suffering from depression you may also be putting off things because you just don’t feel motivated to do anything. Once you determine the cause of your procrastinating it will be easier to stop doing it and increase the productivity level in your life.
If you are disorganized you will find it difficult to stop procrastinating. Start by making lists of things that need to be done and crossing each item off as it is completed. Keep a calendar and pen in a convenient place that you will see many times during the day. Get rid of clutter in your home and organize your closets and drawers. It is difficult to concentrate on tasks at hand when you are surrounded by chaos.
If you are procrastinating because a task is too involved you can try breaking it down into smaller pieces. Start doing projects one bit at a time and as you see that you are actually making progress you may be spurred on to finish it faster. A project that is split into components can seem more manageable and you will feel less overwhelmed by it. Don’t make any one component too large to be comfortably approached.
When you put off doing unpleasant tasks you are forced to think about and deal with the task much longer than if you had just gotten it over with. No one likes to clean out the garage or the refrigerator but the longer you put it off the more often you have to consciously put it out of your mind and live with the mess. Thinking about a problem for weeks is much worse than taking care of it. When you tackle jobs that are unpleasant you free your time for other things. Try enlisting help from family members when you have something distasteful to do. Try inviting friends over for work parties to get things done faster.
If you procrastinate out of fear or discomfort keep in mind that putting the feared thing off into the future will only increase your suffering. When you are making your list of things to do finish the things you dread the most first. Getting these monkeys off your back can ease your mind so much that your other tasks will seem easier. Most often you will find that your fear of something is much worse than the thing itself.
If you are feeling depressed and your world is filling up with unfinished tasks it is imperative to stop procrastinating. Depression makes us feel as though we just don’t have the energy to complete things and we don’t care if they get done anyway. Completing jobs and being productive can help pull you out of depression but you just don’t feel like getting started. Make a list of things that need to be done and tackle the smallest ones first. Reward yourself after each completed task. Talk to friends and family about your accomplishments and things you still need to do. When your list starts to get smaller you may gain a new sense of motivation that will help you to tackle the larger problems. When your life is free of piled up problems you may be able to gain a better perspective on your life.
If you are particularly weak or are a professional procrastinator you may want to enlist some help. Give your to-do list to a family member or friend and have them check up on you. Tell them not to let you get away with procrastination anymore. Letting things go only complicates our lives and stops us from enjoying our free time. Ask yourself what you will gain by putting the task off into the future and the answer will most likely be “nothing.”