How to Procrastinate Less (And Enjoy Your Life More)

THIS QUESTION CAN HELP YOU BREAK THROUGH AND GET IT DONE
by Lynda Wallace

pandaEven the best life has its share of things we don’t want to do, or at least things we don’t want to do when we think we ought to be doing them. So we all procrastinate sometimes.

We know when we’re doing it because we start to tell ourselves our favorite procrastination stories — stories we’ve probably heard many times before.

Do any of these sound at all familiar?

Tomorrow I’ll be able to really concentrate on this report without being interrupted.

It will be kinder not to bring up this issue with my spouse just yet.

I’ll be more creative if I do this project when I really feel like doing it. (This is a personal favorite story of mine.)

I work best under pressure.

As handy as these stories can be, they don’t usually turn out to be true.

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15 Responses to How to Procrastinate Less (And Enjoy Your Life More)

  1. Becky says:

    Wow, this is the first thing I’ve read about procrastination that actually gives some really helpful, practical advice!
    I would add something to the anxiety section: After you’ve broken the task down and have gotten started, if you still feel you don’t know how to complete one portion, ask for help.

  2. Lynda Wallace Lynda Wallace says:

    Thank you, Becky, both for the kind words and the excellent advice. It’s so easy to forget that we are not on our own and that often the wisest thing we can do is to ask for help.

    I hope you’ll come back and post on our site often!

    Lynda

  3. I read this earlier & thought about leaving a comment, but didn’t. I guess my tendency to procrastinate still needs a lot of work.

  4. Lynda Wallace Lynda Wallace says:

    Hi, Kathy.

    Doesn’t seem to need work at all — on the contrary, you seem to be very good at it!

    Lynda

    • Absolutely! My uncle used to tell me he was VP of the Procrastinators Society, that the PS had no president, but they’d elect one when they got around to it.

      • Lois says:

        I love your website and I think your suggestions are right on target. In fact, I have been procrastinating organizing my scrapbook materials. I am telling myself that if I just had someone to help me, I could do it. What is your suggestion?

        • Lynda Wallace Lynda Wallace says:

          Hi, Lois.

          Thanks for letting us know you love the site. It means more than you know!

          As for organizing your scrapbook materials, it doesn’t sound like unpleasant or anxiety-producing work, but it does sound as if it might be boring. Since you must love scrapbooking to have so many materials in need of organizing, I’d guess that if you find the most interesting part and give yourself a five minute start, you’ll probably stick with it.

          I’d kick off my five-minute start by organizing things into piles (including one for recycling). Then once you see how big the stacks are, you can go find the right bags or boxes. Then you’ll have the relatively fun job of choosing the right container for each pile, labeling the containers, and sitting back and enjoying the fruits of your labor.

          Have a picture in your mind of how nice it will be to work on your projects once it’s all done, and reward yourself by starting a new book, or a new section of a favorite one, when the organizing project is all done.

          And if you think all of this would go better for you if you had help, arrange with a friend to each spend an hour helping the other with a chore. It can be a lot easier to dive into someone else’s organizational challenge than into our own.

          I hope this helps, and I hope you’ll let us know how it goes!

          Thanks for writing, and please post again soon.

          Lynda

  5. Betty Rossi says:

    I buy electronics and when I try to set them up I can’t get them to work. Now I have a couple of things that are almost obsolete and still new and just taking up space. I hope one of my kids visits next summer so he can set them up. I procrastinate more with all things as my arthritis gets worse.

    • Lynda Wallace Lynda Wallace says:

      Hi, Betty. I hope they visit you next summer as well. And if they have any luck setting up the electronics, would you send them to my house when they’re done?

      Thanks for posting, and I hope you’re able to get relief from your arthritis.

      Lynda

  6. Jennifer says:

    Thank you. Not just for me but I am hoping this will help my children, mainly the two teenage boys. I think I hide my own procrastination well but I need to model better behaviour and coping strategies for them. I like the avoidance aspect. I will now go clean the kitty trays!! lol

    • Lynda Wallace Lynda Wallace says:

      Thank YOU, Jennifer. I’m glad you enjoyed the article. I think what you say about modeling good coping strategies is really insightful. I tend to hide my foibles from my daughter, but being more open about them so she can see me cope with them in healthy ways sounds like a very good idea to me. Thank you for it, and good luck with the teenagers — and the kitty trays!

  7. Beth McGibbon says:

    Procrastination fascinates me. As a high school teacher for over 20 years, I see more and more kids procrastinate which creates so much stress for them. Based on your research has there been an increase in procrastination over the past ten years? Specifically I see highly capable kids as the worst procrastinators.

    Thanks for the article. I will definitely share it with my students.

  8. Lynda Wallace Lynda Wallace says:

    Hi, Beth.

    First, thank you for being a teacher. You do the most important job there is, and it’s obvious that you really care about your students.

    I’ve looked through the literature, and it is certainly true that people self-report a lot more procrastination than they used to, perhaps because many people — very much including highly capable high school students — are so busy these days and just can’t maintain a high level of motivation 18 hours a day. There is convincing research that we have a finite amount of willpower to motivate us to do things we don’t want to do. Do you think these highly capable students are just tapped out? That, of course, is only one possible factor. I’d love to hear more of your thoughts about what you think is going on.

    I hope we’ll hear a lot more from you!

    Lynda

  9. Susan says:

    My adult daughter has ADHD which results in her putting many things off to the last minute. Fortunately, she is smart and bright and capable, so she pulls them off, but the stress and anxiety surrounding the task are usually great. I’m going to send her this article because I think there are several helpful hints that she could apply to her life that would help her! Thank you!

  10. olgarythm says:

    Lynda,
    thank you for this great article.
    I completely agree with the 5-minute rule, it usually works well for me. I also appreciate the last tip – sometimes we simply need to find the courage to say no.

    Also, congratulations on publishing the book. I hope it is a success!

    Olga

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