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Procrastination at its Finest

how to deal with procrastinationHave you been putting something off? You know how it goes. One part of your brain says: “Stop procrastinating. Just get on with it. Finish it!”

But then another part screams- “But I don’t want to!” It may not be anything major, but the task keeps nagging at the back of your mind. It can leave you feeling unsettled, slightly annoyed and stressed. You will never be fully at peace until you complete the task. But if you can just get it done, your brain will breathe a sigh of relief. You will feel lighter. At the very least, you’ll feel some relief as you go to cross the task off your ‘To do’ list.

So here are some ways to motivate yourself at any time to complete tasks and projects you keep putting off.

Consider how life will be better

Whatever the task is, no matter how painful and boring, consider all the good things that will come once it’s finished. The benefit could simply be that you no longer feel bogged down by it. You can reclaim a little more peace of mind and energy for other new and exciting projects.

Scare yourself into action

A little fear can be a good source of motivation. So ask yourself the question:

What is the cost (financial, social and emotional) of continuing to put this task off?

If this is too hard to imagine, then think of the last time you put off doing something. How much fun was that? Were you happy with the end result? Chances are things could have been better and less stressful.

Get your dopamine firing
To help you finish a particularly boring task, you need to get your dopamine firing. Now typically when your brain thinks of doing a boring project, dopamine isn’t released. The gates to your dopamine are firmly closed.

So how can you open up your dopamine floodgates? By simply combining the task with some of your favorite music, people who you enjoy spending time with or your favorite beverage. Triggering dopamine can help you to get tasks done while being a little less painful.

Identify why you can’t or won’t do it
Often we don’t take action on a task because we are stopped by mental barriers. How do you tackle a mental barrier?

Take some time explore what is stopping you from taking action. In my experience, when I get stopped it usually comes down to one of three things:

  1. Lack of clarity – “I don’t know where to start”
  2. Sense of overwhelm – “Argh! I feel overwhelmed by the size of the task”
  3. Lack of skill/knowledge – “Help! I don’t know how to do this!”

Here’s how you can tackle the mental barriers:

The solution to lack of clarity
If you don’t know where to start, then start anywhere. Preferably, start with what is most appealing and interesting for you. If you have to write an essay, don’t feel like you need to start with the first sentence. Start anywhere. Some writing is better than no writing.

The solution to overwhelm
If you feel overwhelmed by the size of the task, break it down into really small bite-size chunks. What is the smallest action step you can take that will move you towards completing the task? You need to make things actionable for your brain.

The solution to not knowing how to do something
Finally, if you’re stopped because you don’t know how to do something – Google it or ask someone who knows. You can save a lot of time and energy by doing this. This was a suggestion made by my boss when starting my new position and it is something to live by. Don’t sit there are struggle. Ask the experts.

 

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