Why You Procrastinate and How to Overcome It

Why You Procrastinate and How to Overcome It

You procrastinate because the thought of taking action on a particular task doesn’t feel uplifting. There are lots of actions that give us that “Ugh” feeling when we even think about doing them. The less-than-uplifting action could be going to the gym, doing your taxes, making a decision, having an uncomfortable conversation, submitting an assignment to be marked, making a challenging phone call, or even paying the bills.

So, procrastination isn’t really an issue of laziness. It’s an emotional issue. Your brain predicts that you’re going to experience a negative emotion and does its best to help you avoid it.

However, you don’t have to allow your emotions to guide you. They’re merely suggestions you can choose to follow or reject. It’s not easy to take an action that feels uncomfortable, but it can be done.

Even if you procrastinate, you’ll eventually feel even worse about not taking the appropriate action! Why not save yourself some time and drama and just do it now?

Sometimes it’s okay to procrastinate, but there are other times that it would be best to take action immediately.

So, what can you do to mitigate procrastination?

Try these tips to overcome procrastination:

1. Focus on the physical sensation. When you think about doing the thing you don’t want to do, it creates a feeling in your body. Notice where you feel that negative sensation. How would you describe it?

● Focus on the area of your body where you feel the sensation and see what happens to that physical sensation. See how long that feeling lasts.

● Once you see how this feeling dissipates in a short time, it will be easier to handle it or even disregard it in the future.

2. Find an easier way to do the task. Maybe there’s a better or easier way to do what needs to be done. Some tasks are just so big they’re intimidating to even consider.

● Can you do a little each day until it’s done?
● Is there a special tool or helpful technique you can learn, utilise, borrow or rent?
● Is there someone you can ask who has done it and can share how they did it and what they’d do differently if they had to do it again?
● Can you hire someone else to do it?

3. Promise yourself a reward after the task is complete. Maybe all you need is a cup of tea, a massage, or a new book to inspire you to get busy and take action. A reward can be a powerful motivator.

4. Think of how great you’ll feel after completing the task. There are few feelings better than completing a dreaded task. It’s such a relief to put it behind you.

● Instead of focusing on how awful it will be to do it, focus on how awesome you’ll feel when it’s done.

5. Start small. Plan to work on it for just five minutes. Promise yourself that’s all you have to do and then you’ll give yourself a break. You might find that it’s easy to continue after you get started.

● Getting started can be the most challenging part of accomplishing just about anything.

6. Get help. Do you know someone that can help you? Having some company can make unpleasant tasks more tolerable. Find a colleague or friend to help, and you’ll get it done twice as fast. You may even be able to find five people and make a party out of it! Unpleasant tasks are less miserable when you have company.

7. Commit. There are some tasks that simply have to be done even if you don’t want to do them. Summon your inner warrior and overcome your resistance. Just get it done.

Everyone has the urge to procrastinate. One thing that separates the most successful people from the masses is the ability to overcome this urge.

We procrastinate because the thought of doing the task is unpleasant. There are ways to minimise the discomfort of performing a task. Seek out these ways.

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Angela Derks MBA, BHSc, BComm, is the Founder CEO of the Australasian Sustainable Wellness Academy (ASWA) - Australia's award-winning workplace wellbeing advisory and training organisation. Angela is the course developer and lead facilitator of the Nationally Recognised Diploma of Wellness Leadership qualification for workplace wellbeing professionals. The ASWA Business Solutions Team provide consulting services using the award-winning ASWA whole-person, whole-organisation approach to workforce mental health and wellbeing.