You know what I'm talking about: Putting off a task when you know you should be doing something else. Delaying a task only makes you feel large amounts of guilt and stress.
So why do we do it?
There is the one camp that says we procrastinate because of our personality traits:
- We like the adrenaline rush of finishing at the last minute.
- We're perfectionists and are afraid of failing.
- We have a hard time making decisions.
And then there is the other camp that says we procrastinate because of how we view the task:
- We think the task will be hard.
- We feel the task is being forced on us.
- We think the task will be boring.
The truth is somewhere in the middle, and most likely a mixture of both. In fact, there is a growing body of science that agrees (see Task Aversiveness and Procrastination).
Here then are the three steps they say you can use today, to say goodbye to procrastination forever.
1. If You're Procrastinating, You're Bored: Take a Break
When you find yourself procrastinating, science says it's because you are bored; or you feel you will be bored working on the task. The mind works best with variety.
Give yourself permission to take regular breaks. Cornell University backs this advice up and says that taking regular breaks boosts productivity.
2. If You're Procrastinating, You're Frustrated: Break Things Up
When you find yourself procrastinating, researchers say it's most likely you are frustrated with a lack of progress. The easiest way to address that?
Realign your expectations by setting small, realistic, and attainable goals. It's better to make incremental progress, than no progress at all.
3. If You're Procrastinating, You're Feeling Forced: Connect to a Greater Good
The biggest culprit of procrastination? Feeling like you're being forced to complete a task you would normally not choose to do. We all have a little rebel in us.
If that is the case, find a way to connect whatever it is you are avoiding to a greater good that has meaning to you. Find a way to make it personal.
Am I Bored? Am I Frustrated? Do I Feel Forced?
Next time you're stuck and can't seem to move forward, ask yourself: Am I bored? Am I Frustrated? Do I feel forced?
You'll then know what to do to move forward.