In this video, I talk about a the very common theme of procrastination.
1. Three common beliefs that cause us to procrastinate.
2. Three hacks to overcome those beliefs.
3. The “One Minute” rule I follow to help me beat procrastination everyday.
I’m a master procrastinator. I have spent a lifetime figuring out ways to either delay or avoid tasks I don’t feel like doing. I like to think of procrastination as “malfunction” in one of the five steps of executive function.
Here’s what I mean. For practical purposes, executive function -- or our ability to get stuff done -- can be broken down into this five step process:
1. Believing you can do something
2. Planning the steps to do it
3. Organizing materials to do it
4. Transitioning into doing it
5. Self-regulation and sustaining focus until you finish it
When we procrastinate, we delay or avoid one or more of these steps in the process anywhere along the way.
3 Beliefs that cause us to procrastinate
1. Temporal (time) discounting: Preferring the small but immediate gratification of doing something else, versus the delayed (and bigger) reward of doing the work now.
What we may say: “I’ve still got three weeks to finish it.”
2. Irrational avoidance: Deciding something isn’t worth doing unless we can do it perfectly. What we are really doing is allowing our fear to stop us from pursuing something important.
What we may say: “I’m afraid to make a mistake.” Or “What if I fail/embarrass myself/get criticized for my mistakes?”
3. The need to finish it: Sometimes we don’t start something because we are overwhelmed by the idea of finishing it. Think about cleaning out a cluttered attic and you’ll get the idea.
What we may say: “I’ll never finish it, so I’m not even going to try.” Or “It’s going to take me way too long, I don’t have time for that.”
3 Procrastination Hacks I cover in detail in the video
1. Give yourself permission to fail.
2. Ask yourself two questions, “What do I need to get started?” and “What’s the hardest part?”
3. Separate the prep work from the task.
1 Minute Rule
Ask yourself, “Can I do this in one minute or less?” If the answer is, YES, then DO IT RIGHT NOW. If the answer is NO, then PLAN it right now and stick it in your calendar.
Give Yourself Permission to Procrastinate! How do you feel? What do you need? Check in with yourself before starting a task that will take a lot of emotional, social, mental or physical energy.
If you aren’t feeling your best, and that you won’t be very productive, then meet your needs first, and come back around to that task when you have recharged.
Focus on progress not perfection
This is about progress, not perfection. Beating procrastination is a process in making small shifts everyday to stay aware of your feelings and your habits.