Stop Procrastinating With This One Simple Tip
by Rachael Vandendool
Procrastination is the act of putting off something or avoiding a task or job because you don’t feel like doing it.
One of the main reasons why people procrastinate is because of our emotions.
When is the last time you procrastinated on a task that brought you joy?
When the task is associated with a negative emotion or feeling, it makes it really hard even to start the job and hard to stick with it.
Maybe the task is physically or mentally demanding. It is hard work and exhausting.
Or the task could be boring and doesn’t have a great reward after it is completed.
Finally, the task might be outside of your comfort zone. You are not confident in your ability to accomplish the tasks because you are afraid of failing at it or not doing it right.
All these reasons for you not wanting to do a task boil down to how the task makes you feel.
When that task is associated with a negative emotion, it makes it hard to get started on it and stick with it.
Why would you want to do that tedious, hard, uncomfortable job when you could be having fun doing something else?
WHY YOU NEED TO STOP PROCRASTINATING
Obviously, there is a good reason to get those tasks done and stop procrastinating even if they don’t make you feel good immediately or ever.
In our life, there are tasks we need to do to maintain our life.
If those tasks are hard or tedious or don’t make us feel good, and we don’t do them because we are doing something that makes us happy. Those areas of our life that need to be maintained will suffer.
Also, in our life, there are tasks we need to do to improve our current circumstances. If we don’t attempt to try those tasks, we risk not living up to our full potential.
Improving the different areas of our life can bring us long term joy and happiness, that avoiding it might mean we miss out on what we could be.
The Problem With The Why
If you have been reading about time management and procrastination, you know that a lot the suggestions for avoiding procrastination is to define your why.
Write it down and let it motivate you to get started and get it done.
For example, If I want to improve my life by getting in shape, I need to do tasks that are not fun and don’t bring me joy. I need to eat healthy and exercise regularly.
The long term result of this is that I will be in shape. Why do I want to be in shape? I want to be in shape so that I can look good, I can keep up with my kids at the park, and that I can live a healthy life.
Good “Why,” right?
Knowing your why is important and the first step in getting it on your to-do list.
This is why I need to exercise and schedule time for it.
However, for a lot of us, it is not enough for us to actually get the tedious task done and stick with it.
Let me explain.
That why it is all fine and dandy for future me. But present me, who has to get on the treadmill doesn’t care that much about future me, future me is just a thought right now.
I get on that treadmill, work out for 20-30 min.; but, I am not immediately in shape. I didn’t just drop the 20 lbs in one session. There is no good immediate reward for present me.
The reward for present me is just a thought of what I will be if I keep with it, and maybe some good endorphins from getting my blood moving.
Because working out on the treadmill doesn’t make me feel great, but sitting on the coach does. I have a tendency to just sit on the couch.
We need to make our present self happy too, so it gives us the drive to accomplish the task and encourage us to stick with it.
Stop Procrastinating with this One Simple Tip
Stop procrastinating with this one simple tip that will help you get started and stick with the tasks that need to be done.
The tip is to distract yourself from the negative emotion you get when you are doing a hard, stressful, tedious task.
You can distract yourself from a negative emotion by rewarding yourself while and or immediately after you complete a task that gives you a negative feeling.
Over time you can change that negative emotion from the unpleasant feeling you get when doing the tasks to the pleasant feeling you get when you reward yourself during and/or immediately after the task is completed.
Ways to Reward Yourself
1| Rewards that Renew Your Body and Brain
When tasks, if physically or mentally demanding, regularly take time to renew your mind and body.
These types of rewards can be anything that recharges you. Go for a walk, do stretches, taking a short break and read or work on a hobby, talk with a friend or co-worker for 10 min.
For example, my job can be mentally demanding. I usually have a hobby or project that I am working on close by. When I need a break, I take 5 or 10 min to work on that hobby. This renews my mind and brings me joy.
Figure out what recharges your mind and your body and regularly take breaks to reward yourself with those things.
2| Rewards That You Do While Working
Some tasks are boring and repetitive but don’t involve a lot of concentration. These tasks can be rewarded while you are doing the task.
Work on those mindless tasks while watching your favorite TV show, visiting with friends, listening to your favorite podcast or music.
I like to listen to podcasts while I am working out. That and when I am driving is one of the only times of the day I can do this. I actually look forward to getting on the treadmill so I can catch up on that podcast I love.
Identify the tasks that don’t involve a lot of concentration but are tedious and think of enjoyable things you can do at the same time.
3| Rewards That Are Productive
In the different areas of our life, some tasks are productive, meaning they maintain or improve our life (i.e., not scrolling through Facebook), and we do enjoy them.
Reward yourself with these productive, enjoyable tasks after you have completed a task you do not enjoy.
Some ideas of enjoyable tasks might be: Engaging on Instagram, designing a new Pinterest template, taking a course, or reading a new business book.
This really depends on what tasks you enjoy and are productive.
For you engaging on Instagram might be something you don’t enjoy, but designing a new Pinterest template might be something you do enjoy.
After you have done the unenjoyable task of engaging on Instagram, reward yourself with the enjoyable task of creating a new Pinterest template.
Balance your time with unenjoyable and enjoyable tasks.
4| Rewards The Keep Growing
This might be the equivalent of the sticker chart for adults.
Every time you do an unenjoyable task that you regularly procrastinate on, reward yourself with a small monetary value that goes towards a bigger reward later.
You can do this by using a replenishing gift card, a separate bank account, or the good old money jar.
Deposit a set monetary value into it every time you complete an unpleasant activity.
Decide what you are going to spend that money on once you have gotten to a specific dollar value.
Maybe it’s a place you want to go, an item you wish to buy, or a special treat you like to have.
Think about what you are going to use that reward for while you are completing the unpleasant task.
Make sure you have a clear goal of what you are going to do with the money.
And always make the deposit immediately after the task is completed.
5| The Reward of Thankfulness
The final way to reward yourself during and after an unpleasant task is to practice thankfulness.
Being thankful for the ability to do a task is a reward in itself.
Whenever I am doing a job or task that I really don’t like to do, I start to shift my focus from why I don’t like doing this job to being thankful that I can do that job.
For example, when I have to empty the dishwasher. This job is so dull and never seems to end. So I shift my focus and start thinking about why I am thankful that I have a dishwasher, that I have pretty dishes, that I can do this job.
Or when I have a particularly challenging job to do for work. I am thankful I have a job that I can work, and that I can make money.
Shifting the focus from why this task is unpleasant, to why it is good that I have these tasks helps me change my emotions from unpleasant to grateful.
Stop putting off those tasks that don’t bring you joy.
To maintain or improve our life, we need to accomplish tasks that are both pleasant and unpleasant.
Brainstorm ways to reward yourself for doing and accomplishing those unpleasant tasks, so that you can distract yourself from and eventually change the negative emotions you feel towards those tasks.