Someday Is Not A Day Of The Week

Someday Is Not a Day of the Week

By:  Sylvia A. Klatt, Psy.D.

Procrastination: To put off intentionally and habitually; to be slow or late about doing something that should or needs to be done (Merriam-Webster)

We have all delayed or put off something to do at some time. Perhaps you skipped doing laundry so you could go to the movies, or you postponed a meeting to have more time to prepare, or you delayed starting homework in order to watch American Idol.  We tell ourselves it’s ok to “do it later” or “tomorrow” or “someday”.  A little, occasional procrastination isn’t usually an issue, however, it does become a problem when it affects getting necessary things done at home, work or school and it can affect your relationships adversely. Procrastination can become a habit – and a hard habit to break!

Procrastination can lead to feelings of anxiety, stress and guilt. We typically avoid or put off things we don’t like, find boring, that take a lot of time, seem too hard or that we feel lack a purpose or aren’t meaningful.  Sometimes we procrastinate because we worry we won’t do it right or it won’t be perfect.  The longer we avoid doing something or procrastinate, the more distress it can cause.

Why we procrastinate is part of our hard-wiring.  Human behavior naturally leads us to do things that are enjoyable, easy and provide instant gratification and to delay or avoid things which are less pleasant, more difficult and not immediate.  We struggle with the concept of future – it is less concrete and less real – and, thus, the rewards of accomplishment or the consequences of not doing something seem less real, less tangible, or too far off to matter.

Here are some strategies to help decrease procrastination and stay motivated:

  • Get organized – make a list of what needs to get done; prioritize; sometimes it is helpful to tackle the least desirable task first!
  • Be prepared – gather things needed to accomplish task, i.e. put together a bucket of supplies for cleaning; or get books, paper, note cards etc. ready for a research paper.
  • Be specific and concrete – clearly define what you intend to accomplish, i.e. instead of “I’ll do the laundry in the morning”, be specific “I will sort the darks and lights and then start a load of darks first”.
  • Turn off/tune out distraction – whether it’s the television, iPad, phone, texting and/or social media – these things distract us, affect our concentration, and waste our time, only to further drag out the task at hand!
  • Banish boredom – divide tasks into smaller segments or by time periods; take little breaks; mini rewards along the way help boost motivation and help you feel good about what you are accomplishing.
  • Be realistic – be realistic in your expectations of what you can do in the time you have available; don’t try to do too much at the same time!
  • Pace yourself – smaller increments of effort are more likely to lead to successfully achieving the ultimate goal and make it seem less daunting; do a little each day!
  • Ask for help – ask a friend, family member or professional for help; it may help to get another perspective and set realistic goals, to keep you motivated and cheer you on, and to make a task more bearable or even fun, i.e. a work out buddy!

Progress is measured one step at a time. Be kind to and praise yourself for taking the first steps and realize that it is better to put a little effort into today rather than to delay and put things off to someday!

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