Marcia Eckerd Ph.D.

People Skills

An Instant Cure for Procrastination

Lose nagging! Ten things to do for getting to those tasks you're avoiding.

Posted Aug 18, 2010

Oh, it's so easy to put off work. It's the end of summer, right? Do you have a to-do list that's become a to-don't list? Is your partner is nagging you about it? We all tend to dig in our heels and resist being nagged, whether it's a chore or something "for your own good."  Both parties get resentful; nagging can drag down a relationship. 

Another word about nagging: we like to feel our partners like us as we are, and no one likes to be a "home improvement" project. You need to decide together what each of you wants to do for yourselves or in sharing responsibilities.

It could also be that what you're putting off may be something you want to do (like write a blog) but you just can't get it done. You check your email, go to the drugstore, even weed the garden before you get around to remembering - oops, it's too late. Then you chastise yourself about being lazy or disorganized.

Let's say you decide to "just do it." Here's ten things you can do for getting to those tasks you're avoiding. OK, they're not instant, but at least helpful:

1. Create a deadline you must meet. I set up a meeting that requires me to finish a report and use panic to get me going.
2. It's common knowledge, but it works - go on your diet or exercise routine with a friend.
3. Break the task into smaller pieces and reward yourself when you actually finish a piece. (Snickers is my reward of choice.) It helps to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
4. Work somewhere outside of home so the usual distractions aren't there. Or make your work area as distraction-free as possible.
5. Get started even if it's a gesture. Often, that's the hump that's hardest to hurdle.
6. Actually look at your to-do list. Take off anything non-essential, and set a time to start on one thing. The size of the list may scare you away.
7. Talk to yourself, although not out loud if you're somewhere public. Repeat to yourself: "I have set a priority." If you feel pulled to do errands or check e-mail, you have set a priority.
8. Organize the bills/papers/supplies you need to do your task. You're less likely to wander away if you have everything together.
9. Set a time when you must sit down, and don't allow yourself to do anything else for at least a half hour. You might start out of boredom.
10. Figure out a time to do what you need to do and stick to it. As crazy as it sounds, I lift weights before I go to bed. It's the only consistent time I can manage.

Good luck! Hopefully, you didn't put off reading this...