How to Squash the Procrastination Mindset

As if you get a thrill from the last-minute chaos that ensues after putting off your commitments… your results likely suffer, too. There is the occasional magician who can wave her wand, and poof, all is well. Procrastinating is a common problem, and some research suggests it’s not really your fault. Nearly 20 percent of the population is identified as “chronic procrastinators.” For those who struggle with it, they usually struggle with issues of anxiety and stress control and overall time-management.


If you’re not into it, you won’t do it. Sound familiar? If you’re not really passionate about something, you will put it off and find more enjoyable things to do. If you have a list of 10 things that must be done, you’ll do one or two of those things before reorganizing the list, trimming it down and totally dropping the other eight or nine.

Solution: Adopt the two-minute rule. If something takes less than two minutes, just do it. Now. Take out the trash, bring up the laundry, wipe down the bathroom counter, write the first sentence to your essay (it can be lame, but at least you started!), open the line of communication and so forth. If it can be completed in two minutes, do it. Not everything can be finished in 120 seconds, but anything can begin during that time — and that’s the point.

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You can’t make up your mind, so you push it aside. Decisions! Decisions! Making choices can be tough sometimes, especially if you don’t have all of the information you need. Picking out gifts, deciding to go to an event, knowing what to wear, figuring what to eat — these are real-life, everyday battles that kill our time.

Solution: Don’t be so hard on yourself. Your decision isn’t going to set the stage for the apocalypse. Spinning off of the two-minute rule, take two to imagine yourself at an event or in a certain outfit. Think about what the ideal experience would be, which is your “end.” Then, take baby steps through your “means” until you get there. It doesn’t need to be perfect or complete. It might seem overwhelming because your emotions are tied to this procrastination. Click here to see if a vision board would work for you.

(Photo: no-internet
Photo Credit: Philip Greenspun)

There are so many beautiful distractions, you can’t help yourself. Ahh! This problem wasn’t born with the Internet, but it certainly makes it worse. Perhaps you can’t stop yourself from opening your Facebook app or scrolling through Instagram. You keep the TV on in the background. You find yourself in the midst of strange YouTube videos, unsure how you got there.

Solution: Use technology to fight technology by getting an app. Try SelfControl or Freedom. Delete the apps from your phone or tablet when you’re in the middle of working on that super important project (like your Maid of Honor speech). Keep yourself planted in a comfortable space. If you need to ease your anxiety, don’t troll; stretch and meditate until you are in a good place. Try more apps to find your happy place.

Emotions and time-management are linked even more than you might realize. Several studies have toyed with the idea of negative emotions promoting procrastination. It turns out to be the case, but doesn’t tell the entire story. What seems to be the root of the issue is guilty procrastinators find comfort in the “now” by making themselves believe they’ll be in a better mood to handle it later.


The bottom line: Instead of focusing on the task at hand and trying to convince yourself it’s a good idea to begin it, try focusing on your mood. Take a few moments to re-center your mind. If you’re feeling down, unmotivated, lethargic, ask yourself why. What’s the root of this negativity? Take a brisk walk, drink some water, shake it off. You’ll produce infinitely better work when you’re proactive versus picking your split ends.

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