Procrastination Strategies

I came across this great article on Vox yesterday, and I actually read it instead of send it over to Instapaper to “read later.” The psychology of procrastination is fascinating.

But psychologists see procrastination as a misplaced coping mechanism, as an emotion-focused coping strategy…For some people, it feels totally involuntary, like they can’t help themselves.

Is this just a cop–out; the easy answer; an excuse? I’m not sure, but I can tell you that personally, I sometimes feel like procrastination is involuntary.

One of my pet expressions is “Just get started.” And it’s important you don’t say “Just do it” — that’s overwhelming. But just get started.

Yes! This is excellent advice. I use this advice a lot with my friends and clients who feel overwhelmed and put things off. Just start. Starting will often lead to finishing. More importantly, starting allows you to make progress and achieve small victories.

So the most important thing you can do is bootstrap a little progress. Get a little progress, and that’s going to fuel your well-being and your motivation.

In other words, once you start, celebrate the small wins.

Implementation intentions take the form of “If, then.” “If the phone rings, then I’m not going to answer it.” “If my friends call me to say we’re going out, I’m going to say no.” So you’ve already made this pre-commitment.

This matches what I’ve been trying to do with essentialism. Focusing on what’s critical to me and my goals (or those of my family) and saying “no” to a lot of other things (because you can only have one true priority).

This may include a lot of things I want to do. And I live pretty spontaneously, so there’s definitely a balance to find. The key is that when you have identified something as essential and THE priority, you must focus on that one thing, and set your implementation intentions on that.

I used to procrastinate, and now I don’t because I got all these wicked strategies. And it’s every level: some of it’s behavioral, some of it’s emotional, some of it’s cognitive.

This is important. It’s not a battle on just one level. You need to approach procrastination from different angles and build an arsenal of strategies to attack it.

One of my strategies is to build up my skills in and commitment to Asana. I’ve made a rule that I will add every task to this platform so I can celebrate the small wins with flying rainbow unicorns (you know about that, right?) and get shit done.

Links For This Post:

“Why Your Brain Loves Procrastination” – Vox
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
I Think I Saw a Unicorn

1 thought on “Procrastination Strategies”

  1. Great share, Brian. Celebrating the small wins is something that’s been very instrumental to me over the past few months, and I’ve had some quite serious procrastination problems in the past year or two.

    Another thing that’s working for me really well lately is *not* beating myself up over every little failure/mistake/correction. Learn, and keep starting new (didn’t you tell me that?)… and don’t let the emotional baggage of every little “failure” create enormous hurdles that make it hard to even get started.


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