PS: Dear Serial Procrastinator
Full disclosure – it took me days – and the kind of grim determination I would usually reserve for finding the exact shade and cut of trousers across different webstores – to plant myself firmly in my writer’s seat and resolve to finish this article once and for all. Talk about irony, huh?
I’ve been afflicted with some sort of commitment issue with the tasks I have at hand. The assignment that I was supposed to submit by the end of this week? It’s left on a piling backburner together with the other tasks I’ve procrastinated on while I invariably turned to activities that required less mental capacity.
I am acutely aware – and even threatened by – my looming deadlines. But the resistance to doing anything remotely challenging is akin to donning a heavy suit and running in water.
If you resonate with this (and I hope I still have your attention at this point), I encourage you to continue reading on. There are a few switches in your mind, according to psychological studies, that you need to recognise in order to put your engine in the right gear.
It’s all in your imagination.
That imposing mental brick wall that sends us running in the opposite direction every time you try to get back on task? It’s actually a projection of your fear of what’s on the other side; it wants to prevent misery in the future, which may or may not happen.
Have an honest dialogue about it with your deeper self: Is that really the worst case scenario? Compared to inertia, would acting on it would lead to a more unfavourable circumstance? Are you uncomfortable carrying it out because it does not align with your values or goals?
If it is the latter, it would be best if you renegotiate it with yourself – or anyone concerned – if there is any compromise that could be made to curtail the path to taking action.
Be your own cheerleader
You know the saying ‘fake it till you make it?’ Sometimes by detaching your negative feelings from your assignment and assuming a more optimistic stance you will be encouraged to work.
Flip the switch and think about how would completing it might make you feel. What actionable steps or resources can you tap into to help what you achieve your desired outcome? Even if you don’t succeed, what could you learn from it? Remember to be kind and patient with yourself, because you are still a work-in-progress.
Break it down into bite-sized pieces
It can be overwhelming to look at the length of your to-do list. ‘Where should I even begin?’ you’d ask. Work smart and divide your tasks. Some use the Eisenhower’s method – which consists of splitting tasks into four quadrants to help prioritise the order of completion – Do (urgent and important tasks), Decide (important but not urgent), Delegate (urgent but menial tasks) and Delete (not urgent and not important). It may take some time to get the hang of this, but once you do, this framework provides guilt-free permission to focus your attention on tasks that matter and to eliminate anything that doesn’t positively contribute to your schedule.
It also helps if you reward yourself at every end for completing the set of tasks you’ve assigned for the day – I’m digging into a pint of Empirical’s Tie Guan Yin Gelato when I am done with this. (Click here to check out our curation of snacks on teapasar.com)
Social distance from all distractions (chiefly, your phone)
It has become an ingrained reflex to reach out to our mobile devices every half an hour and scroll for any morsel of updates on our social media and messaging apps. It’s like unconscious snacking for the mind. There are – ironically – apps available to help control your screen time, such as Freedom and ZenScreen. Also, consider adding Breathwrk to your roster of apps: it helps me regulate my thoughts through meditation and prepares me with a better mindframe to work with.