Instead of thinking about procrastination as a negative trait, use it to your advantage to get things done.
How to make procrastination work for you?
Everyone procrastinates when they don’t want to do things, but the good news is that you can make this work in your favor by following three simple steps. First, you need to learn how to say no to things you don’t want to do. Of course, this isn’t always possible, but it can reduce the list of unwanted things considerably. Then, you need to decide what you want to do least and put it on top of your list. Trust us, the other unwanted tasks will get done quicker, because there will be something else you want to do even less. And last, but not least, schedule a certain amount of time every day when you are allowed to procrastinate. You know how something we are allowed to do is less appealing than something we deny ourselves?
Learn to say no to things you don’t want to do
How many times did you agree to babysit your sister’s kid, because you just couldn’t say no? The baby is cute, and she is your sister, so you feel obliged to do it. Instead of telling her that you already had plans to go out that evening, you drop everything and reschedule what you wanted to do, only to cancel on her last minute. Now you feel bad about it, because you lost out on the program you really wanted, and you did what you knew you would end up doing anyway.
Although it sounds simple when we say that you need to learn to say no in the first place, it isn’t that easy. But delaying the answer could well be the answer to your problem. Instead of replying ‘sure’ from instinct, tell them that you will check your schedule or think about it. And then sit down and think about all the implications. How will this affect me? Will I miss out on something I deem important? Is there a chance that I will procrastinate and not do it? Is there a chance of me going through with it?
Setting healthy boundaries is not only good for you, but for those around you as well.
You need to know yourself enough to be able to answer these questions, and sometimes your task still won’t be easy. And it might sound selfish, but think about it this way: if you said no straight away, explaining that you had other commitments, your sister could have had enough time to find someone else for the job. But because you didn’t, she now has to cancel her plans. The damage is much more than if you were honest with her (and yourself) in the first place.
Which task do you want to do least?
Make a list of all the things you don’t want to do. There will be many, trust us, from doing the dishes to changing your cat’s litter to replying to emails. Whatever they are, there is always that one thing you simply hate the idea of doing. Whenever you think of having to do it, your stomach clenches, and you wish you never took it on in the first place.
Well, that part can’t be helped now, I’m afraid. But the good news is that you can help yourself by procrastinating. Why? Because if you put it at the top of your list, then all the other unwanted tasks become less scary. How bad something is only depends on what we compare it to. And, because we naturally tend to procrastinate, you will find yourself ticking things off that list in no time. Because everything will seem like a better aspect than doing that one thing that’s on top of the list.
And guess what? Your list will run out, and you will realize that all there is left is that one task. True, it might be the worst of them all, but hey, you have achieved so much already. Give yourself a pat on the back and start on that ‘long’ list now. Come on, it’s just one item. By this time, you should have enough energy and motivation to do it anyway. It’s all a question of perspective.
Make procrastination a part of your daily routine
We don’t like things that we have to do. We would rather do things we want to do, right? So, if we changed the goalpost and instead of chastising ourselves for procrastinating yet again, instead of doing what we should be doing, how about allowing ourselves to procrastinate?
Only for a certain period of time, of course. We should even put it into our schedule. 6am till 7am breakfast, then 7am till 8am, procrastination. Then repeat this every day. Once procrastination becomes necessary, it loses its appeal.
Especially if you make it part of your morning routine, when you have tons of energy, you will feel like you are wasting your time. So, again, you will start ticking off the unwanted things on the list (just remember step two).
Having said that, you should still reward yourself after a hard day at work. But the difference will be that you will want to enjoy your time after you have completed all the unwanted task. So, instead of feeling dreadful, thinking about all the things you still need to do, you can actually relax.