Motivational Monday: Procrastination

The Morning Show


Daniel Applegate from Compass Counseling & Consulting joins us for Motivational Monday. 

What reasons to people give for avoiding tasks?

Many individuals cite the following reasons for avoiding work:

• Lack of Relevance – If something is neither relevant nor meaningful to you personally, it may be difficult to get motivated even to begin.

• Acceptance of Another’s Goals – If a project has been imposed or assigned to you and it is not consistent with your own interests, you may be reluctant to spend the necessary time to see it to conclusion.

• Perfectionism – Having unreachable standards will discourage you from pursuing a task. Remember, perfection is unattainable.

• Evaluation Anxiety – Since others’ responses to your work are not under your direct control, overvaluing these responses can create the kind of anxiety that will interfere with work getting accomplished.

• Ambiguity – If you are uncertain of what is expected of you, it may be difficult to get started.

• Fear of the Unknown – If you are venturing into a new realm or field, you don’t have any way of knowing how well you’ll do. Such an uncertain outcome may inhibit your desire to begin.

• Inability to Handle the Task – If through lack of training, skill, or ability you feel that you lack the personal resources to do the job, you may avoid it completely.

How can someone identify if procrastination is a problem for them?

1 Do you act as though if you ignore a task, it will go away? The mid-term exam in your chemistry class is not likely to vaporize, no matter how much you ignore it.

2 Do you underestimate the work involved in the task, or overestimate your abilities and resources in relationship to the task?

3 Do you deceive yourself into believing that a mediocre performance or lesser standards are acceptable? For example, if you deceive yourself that a 2.3 GPA, or a C on your final will still get you into the grad school or job you want

4 Do you deceive yourself by substituting one worthy activity for another? Suppose you clean the apartment instead of writing your term paper.

5 Do you believe that repeated minor delays are harmless? An example is putting off writing your paper so you can watch five minutes of your favorite television program.

6 Do you dramatize a commitment to a task rather than actually doing it? An example is taking your books on vacation but never opening them? This way you stay in a constant state of unproductive readiness to work–without ever working.

7 Do you become paralyzed in deciding between alternative choices? An example involves spending so much time deciding between two term paper topics that you don’t have sufficient time to write the paper.

How do people start to overcome procrastination?

Identify Small Goals

Creating small goals can help to reduce feelings of being overwhelmed by large projects. A project that will take a full week of work is much easier to avoid than a task that can be completed in 20 minutes. Many people report that just setting a goal to work on something for 10 minutes makes it easier to sit down and do it. Even better, most people report that 10 minutes easily turns into several hours of focused work.

Create a Prioritized To Do List

A to-do list separated into three categories, “urgent,” “moderately important,” and “put off until later” can help you make an informed choice on what things to put off and when, rather than finishing the easier things first.

Use Your Natural Patterns to Your Advantage

If you are more alert in the mornings, schedule more difficult tasks in the mornings. Schedule lunch meetings or phone calls after lunch if you feel better engaging people in the afternoon. If you like quite in the evening, use this time to organize and check you to do list.

Complete Quick Tasks Immediately

Instead of waiting for a client to leave to email them a document, do it while the client is there. This applies to quick phone calls, filing, and small data entry tasks. If you add smaller tasks to your To Do list, they have a way of adding up and becoming overwhelming.

Increase the Pressure

Use an egg timer or an alarm on your phone to limit yourself to a certain amount of time to complete a task. If you’re the type of person who can spend 30 minutes editing a document for which 15 minutes would be adequate, this strategy can be helpful. This strategy is also helpful in minimizing the time for distractions, like social media or YouTube.

Because procrastination is often a habit created over years and decades, it can be difficult to reverse on your own. Working with a therapist is the most effective way of ending your procrastination habits. There are cognitive behavioral treatments for

procrastination than can be completed in as few as four to ten individual therapy sessions

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