The greatest challenge is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Stop Procrastinating


The 4-Step Plan to Never Procrastinate Again
By Ben Rubin

Procrastination: how to adjust your mindset and stay on track.

The first step of beating procrastination is all about changing your perception of the task at hand.

You should do something right now, but you can't muster the will to get started. You know the longer you put off a task, the more likely it'll be done hastily or not get done at all.

Having a task looming over us can make us feel anxious, nervous, or agitated.

When we put off today what we can do tomorrow, we’re setting an intention based on the idea that a task will be more appealing or feel more do-able at some time in the future than it is right now.

It's the often misguided “I’m going to (want to) do it tomorrow” that can lead many of us to put off tasks again and again.

So, how do you get yourself to stop procrastinating?

You just get started.

The Power of Getting Started

Getting started is not the same as doing the task. Thinking of getting started as its own (more do-able) task is a powerful strategy, if used correctly.

Once we get started on a task, our perceptions of it change dramatically, in the best way possible. We perceive the task as less stressful, difficult, and unpleasant than we had originally.

Once you begin a task, you also shift your perceptions of yourself. Why? When you get started on something, even if you don’t finish it, you’ve made some progress and possibly even established a bit of momentum. You’ve gained confidence, exercised control, and in doing so maybe even effected lasting change in the way you approach tasks, projects, and deadlines.

Just Getting Started: As Easy as 1-2-3-4

Step 1: Reframe the way you think of yourself.

To see yourself as a procrastinator can be self-fulfilling thinking . You are more likely to accept your tendencies to procrastinate, and continue to follow that pattern. 

Instead, rethink or "reframe" negative assumptions, shifting your perception of yourself to someone who gets things done.

Think of a few times in the recent past when you did not procrastinate, and remember how great it felt to be productive and complete those tasks with minimal anxiety. 

The frame in your mind: “I’m the sort of person who gets things done. I get started, and I don’t wait around for things to happen in my life.”

Step 2: Trick your mind into making the task tiny.

Break down the huge task in front of you into tiny parts and then tell yourself, “I’m not going to do this larger task; I’m just going to do this tiny part of it.” 

And make the tiny part so small and trivial that it seems ridiculous, such as, put the dirty dishes in the sink.
By doing this, you trick yourself into taking tiny steps that help you build up to your bigger goal. Before you know it, you’ll have started that thing you have been dreading, cleaned your house.

Write down the larger task that you are NOT doing right now. Then write down one small step you will take right now to help you get started. For example: “I am not going to write this paper. But I will write a single conclusion sentence right now.” Or, “I am not going to compile my expense report. But I will spend two minutes right now brainstorming my big expenses and writing down what they add up to.” 

Give yourself permission to do the bigger task later—all you need to do right now is commit to the smaller task.

Step 3: Set up a reward for yourself.

Maybe you’re in need of freedom, relaxation, entertainment, or free time to invest in meaningful relationships. 

None of these needs should be trivialized. If you can identify the needs you’re meeting when you procrastinate, you can find alternative ways to fulfill them later, which allows you to prioritize the more important task in the present moment. 

Use these other needs and desires to create rewards for yourself as incentives for completing the tasks that are less immediately enticing.

Create a small reward for yourself, for completing a samll part of the larger task.  Tie the reward back to the thing you want to be doing instead, like spending time with your friends.

Step 4: Commit publicly to your task.

Making a public commitment to complete your task is an effective way to create accountability for yourself. Studies show that once we make a public commitment, we are more likely to honor it.

Once you have followed these steps, you’ll be well on your way to turning that big, menacing task into a something so do-able it'll be crossed off your to-do list in no time, and you qwill painlessly overcome your habit of procrastination.