The Procrastination Monster
It happens more often than you think. You need to do a thing and it has a deadline. But there are also other tasks you need to complete, like hang out a load of washing or cleaning up the kitchen. So you give in to temptation and dive into your cleaning, reassuring yourself that you will soon put all your concentration towards that original task. Sound familiar?
We all procrastinate to some degree but is it a worthwhile tactic? Some say no, that you haven’t achieved anything. But that’s not always the case.
For others it can be a way to clear your mind, de-clutter your brain and remove the sources of distraction that keep you from completing your task. Doing a task that requires no mental effort, like pegging clothes on the line, can give your brain an opportunity to explore ideas without a time limit or expectation.
Spending time thinking about the original task and the possible ways to tackle it, going over scenarios and possible outcomes all use executive functioning skills, planning, prioritising, time management, organisation, impulse control, and working memory.
This can cut down the length of time spent doing the task, because in a way you’ve already planned it in your head.
But for others, this is where the problem can arise, just getting started.
Everyone has their own workstyle and you need to identify how you work best. Cognitive behavioural therapy can help you identify if you are procrastinating too much, and ways to reduce it. Exploring this with an Occupational Therapist may help you to identify patterns in your behaviours for improved productivity and daily function.
Try these tips for initiating tasks and see if they help you beat the procrastination monster!
- Break down your tasks into their components. Make a checklist and tick them off. Or you might like to try jotting down each task on a sticky note which you can crumble up when it’s done. This is very satisfying and a great visual reward for a job done!
- Use a timer for each task or component and once that time is up, move on to the next one. You can always come back to it if you hit a mental block. Have a break and come back with fresh eyes.
- Set up a reward system for completing a task. Know what will motivate you most and always follow through with the reward.
- Tell someone else what you are going to accomplish. This makes you more accountable and can help keep you on track.