One of the most common things I hear about in therapy is how difficult it is for my clients to get their work done. Many of my clients struggle with staying focused at work, getting tasks done at home, and procrastinating on things so they constantly feel behind. It’s an incredibly common issue that many people can relate to!
Despite being incredibly common, procrastination is something that can be conquered with the right tools. Most people report a significant decrease in stress levels and anxiety when they stop procrastinating.
A lot of folks want to know why they procrastinate. They are often incredibly bright, hard working, accomplished people and yet they can’t seem to stay focused on tasks to get them done. There are a few reasons why people procrastinate, but the common ones are fear or anxiety, being overwhelmed by the task at hand, not knowing where to start, or lack of confidence. Figuring out what is causing the procrastination can make figuring out how to treat it easier. Whatever the underlying cause is, there are a few things you can try to start overcoming procrastination today – instead of waiting until tomorrow!
- Start small. So many times, I hear from folks struggling to get a major project even started because they feel so overwhelmed when they sit down to start. My best piece of advice here is to identify the absolute smallest first step you can think of and start there. Often, identifying a small step makes it much easier to move forward. It’s also the case that many people find they have increased motivation to work on a project once they’ve started.
- Find an accountability partner. One way I help my clients deal with procrastination is by holding them accountable; we set small goals each week and check in on them in therapy. But you don’t need a therapist to serve this role. Find a friend or coworker and ask them to help with this. Better yet, hold each other accountable! If you can set goals for yourselves together and check in on then together, it can provide both the accountability and a social aspect to getting your work done.
- Reward yourself. We give our children and our pets rewards when they do something right but we often forget to do that for ourselves. Identify a small reward – for example, a manicure or watching a movie you want to see – and plan to do it when you reach a small goal. A common trap is to set the reward for when you’ve accomplished a huge goal but since that is harder to accomplish and takes longer, we often lose steam. If you set small goals and periodically reward yourself, you’ll maintain your motivation to keep going.
- Eliminate distractions. Today, we are surrounded by distractions that make it harder to get our work done. You know you have to get a project plan to your boss by tomorrow, but someone sent you a funny youtube video or you haven’t checked social media in a while. The more you can remove these distractions, the better. If possible, put your phone somewhere else, turn off your internet, or turn of your email notifications.
There are many tools that can help you overcome procrastination. However, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do. If you find that you are struggling with procrastination and don’t feel you’re able to get a handle on it on your own, therapy can help. Things like cognitive behavioral therapy can help you identify the root cause of your procrastinating, deal with whatever may be contributing, and learn how to finally stop putting things off until tomorrow. If you’d like to learn more, don’t hesitate to reach out to me!