The calendar year will be coming to a close before we know it, and with a fresh start in 2022, many of us will be setting our sights on new goals.
But wait, I hope I'm not the only one realizing that some of my New Year's Resolutions are carry-overs of goals from years past that I am still hoping to achieve. Or maybe you're feeling the stress and pressure setting in as you try to complete all those year-end projects that you told yourself you'd have time to do later. It is probably because of these common experiences that December has been declared Procrastination Awareness Month.7
Procrastination is one of those habits that despite our greatest intentions to improve our time management and self-discipline, it seems we will, at some point, find ourselves back in that place of working against the clock to catch up on something we wished we started earlier. There is hope for all of us - read on to learn more about why we procrastinate and some strategies to do it less.
Why do we procrastinate?
Procrastination isn't a sign of laziness, it is usually just the active process of choosing something else to do instead of the task you know you should be doing.8 Oftentimes we opt for the easier or more enjoyable tasks that we can finish quickly over the longer term priorities because those projects are usually more ambiguous. When we don't know where to start, we lack confidence in our ability to do what needs to be done, so instead, we do something else.9 Surprisingly, perfectionists are known to be procrastinators also because they would rather avoid doing something altogether rather than doing it below the standards they set for themselves.8
- Rate Your To-Do List - Take a look at your full to-do list and decide what is Urgent (meaning it demands immediate attention), and what is Important (meaning it has an outcome that leads to achieving your goals).10 Always prioritize those items that are high on the urgency/importance scale, and if you can, knock out a few of the lower importance/urgent items just to clear your headspace.9
- Choose One Major Priority - Select one thing from your ongoing to-do list that is most important and meaningful to you. (Hint: it is probably something you have been thinking about for a while!) Center your focus on that one item and list the necessary steps to take the ambiguity out of how to achieve it. This sub-list within your To-Do list will likely involve doing research, asking questions, and perhaps getting necessary training - when you break that big thing down into smaller, more concrete steps, you are more likely to get started.9
- Take the First Step - Once you've managed all your high urgency tasks, it is time to get to work on your priority item. Try to put away all distractions, and remember to expect to experience some of your usual resistance to tackling something that feels so big. Remember why this task is your first priority, and that once you make a little progress, it will be much easier to keep the ball rolling.9
- Ride the Momentum- Continue to prioritize time each day to make progress towards your desired result. You might find that there is a certain time of day that you are most productive - save you most important tasks for that time.8
- Tell Your Friends - When you tell people in your life that you are working towards a big goal, it is exciting for them and they will likely check up on you to see how it is going. Having those regular check-ins can help hold you accountable to the things you really want.8
- Give Yourself Some Grace - No one is perfect. You might find you get started, and then get distracted or derailed entirely. Forgive yourself for the times you have procrastinated in the past because studies actually show that when you feel more positively about yourself, you reduce the likelihood of procrastination in the future.8
- Celebrate When It's Done - Promise yourself a reward and celebrate the good feelings of accomplishing things in the time you set for yourself. Nothing like a little positive reinforcement to set yourself up for success next time!8
Ultimately, all of us know that procrastination doesn't feel good, and if we're always only just trying to finish the 'Have-To-Dos', we may never get to the most meaningful 'Want-To-Dos' in our lives.9 We hope these strategies help you get to more of your Want-To-Dos in 2022!