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The Truth About Procrastination

I have always heard from self-proclaimed procrastinators that they “need the pressure in order to perform.” I used to accept this as a legitimate reason to procrastinate, feeling that if it works for people then it’s fine. But somewhere down the line, this way of reasoning has lost its validity.

Now I say to you procrastinators everywhere, “Procrastinate if you want, but you don’t need the pressure, you choose it.” So there.

I’m calling you out on this one because I care. Really, I do. I’ve already outlined all the reasons I believe procrastination sucks the life out of you. Time to take away its power. I’ve put my health correspondent on the task of compiling all the research studies of how procrastination makes you ill. But for now, you’ll have to accept antidotal evidence that it just isn’t good for your psyche.

Here’s the thing- when you choose to procrastinate, what you are really choosing is to use stress and anxiety as the motivators to get a task done. Guess how you feel as a result? Yes, you got it: stressed and anxious.

What’s really needed is to get in the habit of choosing other motivators. Drawing a blank? Let me help. Momentum is one motivator of which I’m particularly fond. I talked about it previously on this blog: when you do something positive and new (however small) and it feels good, you want to continue in that direction. You feel rewarded. You end up getting a task done by using the rewarding feeling of momentum, not the bite of stress.

Also, imagine the feelings you get when you start something and compare that to the feeling of waiting until the last minute. Visualize what it will be like to have the task completed. Use the feeling as a reward for changing your behavior.

 
If you need to, go ahead and bribe yourself to get on a task (I certainly do). Say, “if I work on this straight for 10 minutes I can watch that show that was just added to Netflix.” Or, get 10 minutes of work in and THEN check Facebook. It’s like reverse procrastination. Do the thing you’d like to do to procrastinate after you get a little bit of work done. It also helps to make the work “snack-sized.” Plus, you get to enjoy your break even more, without the nagging feeling that you really should be doing something else.

Bottom line: You don’t need procrastination. You have options. The more you practice creatively finding other motivators, the more you can use them to make other kinds of behavior changes in the future. So start now, please don’t delay!

Where to you find your motivation?

POSTED: 2 Oct, 2012

TAGS: anxiety , change process , momentum , motivation , strategies , stress management , wellness

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3 responses to “The Truth About Procrastination”

  1. I need to keep reminding myself of these options. I’ve been pretty good with giving myself rewards if I just complete one simple task. It works well for me. Who needs the extra pressure?

  2. Hannah says:

    Yes, it really is effective. It’s how I made it through school and how I get tasks like paperwork done now. Get is done, get a little reward and move on. Good recipe for lowering stress!

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