Dear Hope: How Do I Quit Procrastinating?
Are there any tips that have not been said yet on how to quit procrastinating? I swear, I’ve tried everything. But nothing is stopping me from procrastinating everything I need to do!
Dear Serial Procrastinator,
We are going to go at this a little differently. Since you have probably heard and tried all the tips, we need a new approach.
You said it’s stopping you from everything you do. Really? Everything?
Are there things you do work on? Things you enjoy doing? If yes, take some time thinking about why? What motivates you?
Someone that is a major procrastinator – Will have a hard time getting started on any task.
Someone that needs a new perspective – You have tons of things to get done. It’s overwhelming. It’s hard to know where to start so you usually just let it go until it’s too late.
My guess is you have too much going on. But let’s dig a little deeper.
School, homework, blogs, social media, friends, and anything else can be exhausting. If you have so much going on it can feel like nothing is actually getting done. I would guess again that you do meet your deadlines. You don’t let your friends down and you do accomplish things. Am I right?
Ok, so what to do? I know you have tried it all, but I want you to give this idea some thought. Even if you’ve tried before, give it one more chance. But this time with a new perspective.
I want you to stop focusing on the word procrastinate. Instead, I want you to focus on prioritizing.
Get a sheet of paper. On the front write down all the things you need to get done. (Yes do it now. Don’t procrastinate…) Don’t add the things that are routine like brushing teeth and eating. Next go back over the list and label the things with a 1, 2, or a 3
- For majorly important: must be done today or within the next two weeks.
2. Semi-important: needs to be done by next month or two.
3. Not so important: would like to do, but no deadline.
Now on the back, write down the things you love doing. The things you do when you are putting off doing something you need to get done. We will call this your reward list.
No one can get everything done. It’s about knowing what needs to be done and when to do it. Every day make time to work on the things that have a 1. Once or twice a week spend time on the number 2’s. Once a month or so work on a 3. Retrain your brain to understand it cannot all be done at the same time. Don’t get upset with yourself. You can only do so much.
Before you start working on anything. Take a few minutes to do these steps.
1. Visualize how you will feel when you are done (happy, a sense of accomplishment, proud of yourself). Think about how you will feel if you don’t get it done (disappointed, unhappy). Know which feeling you want and keep that in mind. You will feel amazing if you just get it done.
2. Set a designated amount of time: Decide ahead of time how much time you will work on something. Be realistic. Maybe you just work in 10-minute increments.
3. Pick a reward. Look at your reward list and pick something. When your timer goes off, take some time to reward yourself. I recommend you set the timer for this also (so you don’t get in the distraction danger zone).
4. Ask someone to hold you accountable. Tell a parent or call a friend. Let them know your plan, what you are going to work on and for how long. You might feel more like working if someone will call you out on it.
5. Be your own cheerleader.
Repeat after me:
1 2 3 & 4
serial procrastinator no more
(I think that sounds better in my own head, but you get the idea.)
I struggle with procrastination. The struggle is real and we all feel it. There will always be distractions or things that are just not fun to do. I understand that. But do not let procrastination win. Don’t focus on the procrastination. Instead, tell yourself that you are a doer. Focus on how good you will feel when you accomplish what you are capable of.
I hope some of this helps. You are so capable. It’s time to let this go. Take small steps and keeping improving. You’ve got this.
Thank you for being brave and sending in your question.