Something we haven’t talked about yet is that little voice in our head that either encourages us to go do something else – thus procrastinating, or the other one… the critical one… the one that tells us how much we suck because we didn’t get the things done we set out to do.
How to tame the little voice in your head
Why is it important to listen to those voices? Because they have an impact on your life both on a conscious and a subconscious level. Let’s start with that negative voice because I think in the long run it’s the most destructive of the two.
Back in the first post of this series on beating procrastination we talked about the importance of forgiving yourself. To quickly recap, it does you no good to beat yourself up over past procrastination and that you should expect to “fail” by procrastinating again here and there. Nobody is perfect. We all have good days and bad days. The important part is to show up and try your best.
That little negative voice in your head doesn’t help you do that. Become aware of it and when you hear it, defuse it. You can do this by:-
- responding to it out loud or in writing (via a journal)
- getting up and doing something else. Do whatever it takes to silence that voice. A great option is to prove it wrong by doing something productive. Over time that voice will speak up less and less unless you indulge it by paying attention to it and letting it ruin your day.
- be wary of substituting activities. Tackle the voice in your head that tells you it’s much more fun to do just about anything other than what you should be doing. We all have that voice. It’s why we come up with (e.g.) procrasti-cleaning, and procrasti-crafting. (I used to love procrasti-ironing during exam preparation time – it just became so attractive). We can get pretty innovative when it comes to doing anything but the thing we don’t want to work on and that little voice is feeding us suggestions and cheering us on.
- use “yes, and” statements. “Yes, playing video games sounds like a lot of fun and I’m going to play for an hour or so after I get this task done.” Use the suggestions this voice gives you as bribes if they sound like something fun. Ignore them otherwise, or put them off until tomorrow.
Summary of how to beat procrastination
Well, we are coming to the end of our series on how to get out of your lounge-chair and finally beat procrastination. I hope you’ve been following along and more importantly that you’ve been making progress on at least one of the things you’ve been procrastinating on. We end today with the most important piece of advice and the main lesson I want you to take away from all this.
Make progress every single day!
Of course that’s easier said than done. That’s why I’m leaving you today with three simple secrets or strategies to help you. Give them a try and see if you can’t get into the habit of being productive every day instead of procrastinating.
Secret 1: Plan For It
It’s easy to make progress every day when you know exactly what you should be working on next. Make a plan and then decide what you will do each day of the week. Write it down in a planner and adjust daily as needed. In the morning, you can see at a glance what it is you should be doing. Then get to work on it first thing before the day gets away from you. I find it helpful to have my planner sitting right in front of me at my desk, keeping me on track.
Secret 2: Don’t Break The Chain
There’s something to be said about a chain or a streak. Record every day you don’t procrastinate on something. You can mark it on a monthly calendar, or create a chain of sticky notes, stickers, or even one of those paper chains you used to make in preschool. The goal is simple. Don’t break the chain. Once you have a few days under your belt, you’ll be motivated to go the extra mile and do that one thing you need to do to avoid breaking the streak.
Secret 3: Check In With Yourself
As you start to make progress on the things you know you need to be doing, you should feel your anxiety reduce. Instead your will feel your confidence go up. Don’t be surprised to feel proud of your accomplishments. Instead use those feelings to propel you forward to more procrastination free days. Procrastination is a habit. It’s something you learned to do, which means it’s something you can unlearn. Stick with it, make progress every day, and enjoy those feelings of accomplishment.
Well, I hope this series of posts has helped you get some new ideas on how to beat procrastination. Comment on which tip you found easiest and / or most useful.
Sunset Coast Hypnotherapy
Perth, Western Australia