Quick Techniques for Overcoming Procrastination
Updated: Nov 9, 2020
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We all struggle with procrastination at times, oftentimes at tasks that are important for our personal or professional advancement. Whether it is delaying the dreaded meeting with our co-worker, scrolling Facebook instead of working, or “not finding time” for our evening run, we all know about the devastating impact of procrastination. But how do we stop it?
Over 20 years ago, Dr. Timothy Pychyl completed his doctoral work on goal setting and subjective well-being. During his research interviews, he would encounter the same problem over and over again: People knew what to do, but couldn’t get themselves to do it. Inspired by this insight, he founded the Procrastination Research Group (PRG) in 1995, and has since dedicated his time to studying our need to put things off for later. The fastest way he has found to overcome procrastination? Just get started!
More often than not, procrastination is not about time management or not being able to find a better use of your time than watching cat videos. It’s about avoidance. Tackling big projects, whether at work or anywhere else, elicits certain emotions such as excitement, passion, fascination, and interest but also fear, worry, insecurity, and doubt. It is those negative emotions we are running from. We think it will be too difficult, too strenuous, or take too long, and so we never actually get started. Ultimately, procrastination comes down to emotional management.
Now, there are two ways you can go about overcoming procrastination. First, you can take the hard route of controlling your emotions: Deep breathing, gratitude, positive thinking, visualization. Or, you just take the jump. The fastest way to overcome procrastination is by answering one simple question: What’s the next action? According to Pychyl, this doesn’t have to be a huge step. It can be as simple as opening a document. Writing 5 words. Putting on your running shoes.
To me, one of the most intriguing findings of psychological research is that we don’t always need motivation to start. In fact, it is the other way around. By getting started first, we create momentum. One tiny task leads to the next, and we start making progress. And before you know it, motivation is there, ready to push you further along the way.
So let me ask you: What’s your next action? Think about it, and then get to work. Like, right now.
Have a great day!
Executive Coaching Intern CRG Leadership Institute LLC