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5 Ways to Combat Procrastination

by Kassandra Lamb

Last week I talked about the motivations behind procrastination (Getting a Round Tuit). Today, I want to address how one can overcome it.

RoundTuit pub domain

I have lots of these! (by Heron 2 –public domain)

I tend to swing too far the other way. I’m a precrastinator. I am so adverse to the stress of a looming deadline that I have to have everything done way in advance. Sometimes I end up stressing myself out even more this way. If I don’t have it done at least a week in advance, I start to panic.

But there is a middle ground. Getting a task done a little bit before it’s actually due not only relieves some of the stress of the deadline, but it allows room for last minute glitches (as I’ve learned the hard way).

So whether you’re an intermittent  or chronic procrastinator, here are some things to do to become a recovering procrastinator:

#1: Keep a calendar–either on paper or on your computer . But I already do that, you might be thinking.

Yeah, but we’re going to add some things to that calendar. Not only do you put the task’s deadline on it, but also the date you should be starting the project, the date it should be at least half done and the date you will finish it (several days before the deadline). So the calendar would look like this:

● June 2: Start Task A
● June 10: Task A half done
● June 17: Finish Task A
● June 20: Task A due

#2: Treat those interim deadlines as seriously as you would the final one!  If you use an online calendar, set it up to have reminders pop up in your face. If you do it on paper, place your calendar in a prominent spot where it can’t be ignored.

#3: Take a look at your self-talk. We’ve talked about this before; what we say to ourselves in our heads can be a powerful obstacle, or powerful encouragement.

When facing an unpleasant task, if you catch yourself thinking, I can do that later, replace that with, If I get this out of the way now, I can forget about it. Or, What a relief it will be to get this out of the way now.

If confidence issues are involved, that can be tougher to deal with. It can help to keep a journal for a few days in which you record your thoughts about the tasks you are supposed to be doing. Figure out what the most frequent confidence-sapping, procrastination-promoting internal comments are.

Then write down the words that are the exact opposite of those thoughts. Carry that piece of paper around with you and pull it out whenever you are tempted to put something off.

For example, I’m no good at this can become I’ve done this before and did just fine.

#4: Find other ways to stimulate yourself! Okay, get your mind out of the gutter. That’s not what I’m talking about here. 😉

I’m talking about those of you who found yourselves relating to the closet adrenaline junkie discussion in my previous post. You have yet another challenge–how to get the extra stimulation you need so you stop creating artificial crises in order to feel alive.

One way is to find totally different outlets for that need. Stop and exercise briefly several times a day, or play a few minutes of a stimulating video game periodically. You might even consider a treadmill desk.

treadmill work station

(photo by JoeHoover CC-BY-SA 2.0 Wikimedia Commons)

I will confess to being a little bit of an adrenaline junkie myself. But what I figured out a long while back is that focusing on the excitement of getting the task done is the best way to feed that need for stimulation.

What excitement? you might ask if you’re a chronic procrastinator. You may have rarely felt this excitement, because you were so stressed out by the time you got the task done that all you could feel was relief.

But it’s there for you if you can get the task done before you’ve reached that state of exhaustion, AND if you give yourself permission to feel it.

We’re back to the self-confidence thing. If you believe that you are not a very competent person than you may be blocking that excitement and again just focusing on the relief. You may not be giving yourself credit for the accomplishment of getting things done. So…

#5: Take a moment to stop and smell the success!!  Again, this is something that you will have to make a conscious goal for a while, to force yourself to stop and relish the sense of achievement.

And now I will model that for you. I’m actually writing this blog post a week in advance because I’ve got a very busy time coming up soon (a book launch). So now that it is done, I can celebrate.

Wahoo!! It’s done. Damn I’m good!! Gimme a high five!

woman and dog high-fiving

(photo: Sybel By Marlies Kloet CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)

I hope these ideas are helpful for you. Do you have any other suggestions for the chronic procrastinators amongst us?

Here’s something you shouldn’t procrastinate about if you’re a Kate Huntington fan. The next book in that series is now available for preorder. Two quick clicks and it’s done. The book will pop up on your ereader when it’s released on October 27th.

It’s on sale for a reduced price during the preorder period. Just $1.99 (goes up to $3.99 after the release).

SuicidalSuspicions FINALSUICIDAL SUSPICIONS, A Kate Huntington Mystery, Book 8

Psychotherapist Kate Huntington is rocked to the core when one of her clients commits suicide. How can this be? The woman, who suffered from bipolar disorder, had been swinging toward a manic state. The client’s family blames Kate and they’re threatening to sue for malpractice. She can’t fault them since she blames herself. How could she have missed the signs?

Searching for answers for herself and the grieving parents, Kate discovers some details that don’t quite fit. Is it possible the client didn’t take her own life, or is that just wishful thinking? Questioning her professional judgement, and at times her own sanity, she feels compelled to investigate. What she finds stirs up her old ambivalence about the Catholic Church. Is her client’s death somehow related to her childhood parish?

When she senses that someone is following her, she wonders if she is truly losing it. Or is she getting dangerously close to someone’s secrets?

PREORDER NOW on  Amazon US   Amazon UK   Amazon Canada   Amazon Australia

(Nook, Kobo and Apple fans, it’s coming soon to those e-retailers!)

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series and has started a new cozy series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy mysteries (coming soon).

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