Today’s subject is one I’ve been wanting to touch on for a while, but haven’t because, well, procrastination. What can I say? I blame it on becoming a mom (wink wink). But in all honesty, I’ve waited to talk about it until I felt like I really had a few solid ways to counteract it. And now, after some self-reflection and light reading on the psychology behind procrastination, I think I have a few pointers to offer on the topic.
If you struggle with procrastination, or maybe you’re just looking for a few ways to be more productive, here are some thoughts and ideas.
Trick your mind into thinking you enjoy the task you’re putting off
This is a tip I picked while reading about procrastination online. Some psychologists suggest the answer to stopping putting things off, is to actually make yourself believe you enjoy doing whatever that task is. If you tell yourself enough times you enjoy doing something, subconsciously your brain will start to believe you. Simple enough, no?
My personal takeaway is, challenge yourself to do the task you’ve been putting off for just 10 minutes. Even if it’s an hour-long project, tell yourself 10 minutes is all you have to do. When I applied this to my life and work, I realized that by the time 10 minutes was up, it actually wasn’t near as dreadful as I thought it’d be and I kept going. Which brings me to thought number two…
Don’t build up how terrible something is in your mind
When I continuously put something off, it consumes my mind. Kind of like taxes; you wait and wait until one day it just seems so awful you’d rather get a penalty than actually deal with it.
I think the trick here is to just do things straight away, even before you feel ready or organized, so all the build-up and agony doesn’t even have a chance to happen.
One more thing! There’s science out there that shows shorter bursts of working, then breaking, then returning to said work is actually more productive. Psychology Today describes this method as productive procrastination. Basically, you start a project and then step away for a little while. The idea is that once you’ve stepped away, your mind is actually still working, even though your body isn’t. I think this totally makes sense because I’ve had some of my best ideas while driving in the car (or…sitting in LA traffic) versus sitting at my desk and forcing creativity.
What do you think? Can we beat our mind at its own game? Interested to hear about your experiences on this front!