3 Habits that Will Help You Prevent Procrastination
Your habits are a fortified line of defense against procrastination. In fact, if you develop productive habits, they’ll reduce your “appetite” for procrastination.
Time invested in shaping good habits is time well invested.
When it comes to dealing with procrastination, a few habits can make a huge difference in your ability to resist its appeals. The three habits I share here will help you prevent procrastination.
1. Get Into the Habit of Paying Before Playing
We teach children to eat their vegetables or to finish their meal before they get their dessert. We tell them to clean their bedroom before they go play outside. We tell them to complete their homework before they watch TV.
We do this because we want them to “pay” before they “play”: we want them to do what they must before they do what they want. We want them to fulfill their responsibilities before they indulge in leisure activities.
In addition, we use “play” has an incentive for them to “pay”. We know that if they start with “play”, we’ll struggle to convince them to “pay”.
Do the same. Before you start you engage in your “procrastination activity” of choice (i.e. “play), get into the habit of producing work (i.e. “pay”). As with kids, use your “procrastination activity” (i.e. surfing the Web; watching TV; scrolling social media feeds, etc.) as a reward for performing your work.
To prevent procrastination never jump directly to your procrastination activity. Put a productive activity before it. Put a “pay activity” before a “play activity”.
2. Get into the Habit of Chopping Your Tasks in Bite-size Chunks
People often procrastinate when they feel overwhelmed by a task. The sheer magnitude of the task stops them in their tracks.
If that’s you, “chop” your huge tasks in smaller, easy-to-accomplish tasks. If you do this, you’re less likely to give in to your tendency to procrastinate.
Instead of thinking, “Gosh, I have a 20-page report to write!” Schedule a session to work on a small part of the report, say, a short introduction or whatever part you deem would set you in motion. This may be all you need to begin to write and have a productive time of work.
Another way you can break it down is by saying, “I’ll work on the report for 20 minutes.” This is less daunting than thinking about the 8 hours of work you must invest to produce the report. Again, this may be all you need to set yourself in motion.
Almost every big task can be broken down into smaller tasks. To prevent procrastination, “chop” your tasks.
3. Get Into the Habit of Finding Your Way Back When You Go Astray
Procrastination knows how to leverage distractions and interruptions to its advantage. A distraction pops up and before you know it, you completely lost your way: an hour has gone by and you have no work to show for it.
For starters, when it’s time to work, make sure you eliminate as many sources of distractions and interruptions as you can.
When distractions or interruptions arise, discipline yourself to get back to work. You can acknowledge the distraction or interruption, but don’t let it take you off course.
For instance, if you hear a plane fly by or your next door neighbor decides to mow his lawn while you’re working, you can say something like, “Interesting! Let me get back to work.”
This isn’t always easy. But it’s a habit you can develop to help you prevent procrastination.