In my last post on this amazing blog (Steve Laube requires me to say that at regular intervals), I opined about seven consequences of procrastination. You may not have gotten around to reading it yet, but I promised in that post to follow up with some helpful tips or techniques for preventing procrastination. So, without further ado or delay, here are some ideas:
Of course, right? But seriously, pray about your procrastination. Pray for deliverance from procrastination. Pray for those who might be affected if you procrastinate. And so on.
- Make a list.
Several of the comments on my previous post (“I’ve Put Off Writing This Blog Post Long Enough”) mentioned the value of making to-do lists and keeping them handy. (Thanks, Deb Gorman and Andrew Budek-Schmeisser.) I use a bullet journal to list my daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual goals. (Yes, I am OCD; wanna make something of it?)
- Carry it over.
When you don’t accomplish something on your daily to-do list, copy it to the next day. And then the next. And the next. This is a good reason not to use a digital to-do app that does this for you, because the repetition and annoyance of repeatedly writing that same task can spur you to get it done, so you don’t have to keep writing it.
- Ask why.
Commenting on my previous post, Susan Brehmer said, “I review items left dangling on my to-do list and consider why I haven’t completed them yet. That often leads to a simple step to get started.”
- Exercise your faith.
Envision what it will be like when you complete the tasks you’ve been procrastinating. A deep sigh of relief? A sense of accomplishment? A break from the space it’s been taking up in your head? Renewed self-respect? You might go so far as to verbalize this: “When I finish ______, I’ll experience ____.”
- Break it down.
Are you procrastinating because the task ahead is intimidating? Too big? Too hard? Break it down into incremental steps, and place those steps in your schedule or to-do list. Remember, according to the old joke, that’s how you eat an elephant: “one bite at a time.”
- Bundle tasks.
Sarah Hamaker posted this comment on my previous blog post: “Bundling my least preferred tasks (like social media and marketing!) in blocks of time on a weekly or monthly calendar also allows me to both forget about those tasks and do them in a single block of time.” Pairing tasks you tend to procrastinate with those you enjoy (for instance, enlisting a friend to partner with in some of your least favorite tasks) can turn procrastination into anticrastination. (So sorry.)
- Schedule “sprints.”
Schedule a time and place for short bursts of focused attention on your most-pressing and/or most-often-procrastinated tasks. It’s easy to put off something when you have “all day” or “all week” to accomplish it; that can feel like a marathon. But if you tell yourself that you’re going to “sprint” for fifteen or thirty minutes in order to get Task A done, you might actually do it.
- Shut the door.
Never in history have we had more ways to allow ourselves to be distracted from the things we ought to do: phone calls, emails, text messages, Facebook, doorbells, YouTube, YouNameIt. But there are also ways to counter those things, by putting your phone on “Do Not Disturb” or “Airplane Mode,” for example. So take that thing you’ve been putting off, shut the door, silence everything, and don’t come out until the thing is done.
- Build in rewards.
If you’re as OCD as I am, checking off task after task (and thus moving them out of my limited brain space) is its own reward. If you’re not, promise yourself a commensurate reward for getting it done. A donut, perhaps. Okay, so it doesn’t have to be donuts. It could be a nap. A walk. A purchase. Even a sticker, just like in first grade.
I’m so glad to get this post written, I can’t even begin to describe it. So I won’t. Instead, I’ll check it off as “done” and head to the donut place.