Procrastination is a life time habit and it can be difficult to break it unless you set out to practice a new habit. Some High School and college students will often wait till the last day to hand in papers, sit down to study at the last minute or wait till the last hour to complete a project. The same habits continue to follow as they take up jobs. Sometimes this can be stressful and frustrating.
I would like to suggest three steps to changing procrastination behavior.
*Most often procrastination is a result of cognitive distortions or errors in thinking. Becoming aware of what these errors in thinking are is the first step to change.
Some of the more common cognitive distortions are :
1. I have enough time to do it. Some people are not able to reconcile the amount of time needed to complete a paper, study for quiz or complete a project. They will always underestimate the time and of course will scramble when time is limited.
2. I do my best work under stress: In my years of teaching undergraduate psychology, I have come across this type of thinking very often. And yes, stress can be a motivator but leaving things to the last minute does not allow for revisions, for example.
3. It needs to be perfect. There is no such thing as perfection. Its an elusive goal and therefore searching for perfection is also elusive. ( check out the blog on Perfection)
* Cultivating awareness and focusing on the task little bit at a time. Together with awareness cultivating a steady focus and attention is helpful in tackling small steps instead of feeling overwhelmed by the task. Making short goals and deadlines to complete tasks helpful to the brain and keeps stress at bay. Rewarding yourself for a completed task is also very helpful.
* Learning/ enhancing/ organizational skills and time management skills is an effective tool against procrastination. Writing important dates on a calendar is a visual reminder to complete the work.
But nothing beats the Old Nike commercial line ‘JUST DO IT’.
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