"I think I procrastinate. Where do I start?"
Identify your signs of procrastination:
- How do you know you are procrastinating?
- What do you do to procrastinate?
- Identify situations or areas in which you procrastinate, (e.g., social relationships, school, finance, household, etc.)
- When do you procrastinate?
"What might be underlying issues or causes of procrastination?"
- Lack of relevance
- Lack of interest
- Perfectionism: having extremely high standards which are almost unreachable
- Evaluation anxiety: concern over other's responses to your work
- Ambiguity: uncertainty of what is expected to complete task
- Fear of failure and self-doubt
- Fear of success: (e.g., if succeed, concern over having to maintain same level of performance; concern over jealousy from others.)
- Inability to handle the task: lack of training or skill necessary to complete task
- Lack of information needed to complete task
- Environmental conditions:
- Orderliness of work area
- Availability of needed materials
- Adequate lighting
- Physical conditions (e.g., fatigue)
- Anxiety over expectations that others have of you (e.g., high pressure to succeed; expectations that you will fail)
- All-or-nothing thinking (e.g., seeing one setback as total failure)
- Task seems overwhelming or unmanageable
- You are actually overextended, trying to manage too much
"What can I do to manage procrastination?
- Identify what is necessary to accomplish task in a given amount of time; Get a sense of the entire project and what is required to complete it.
- Set goals for what is to be accomplished
- Break goals into smaller sub-goals (e.g., concentrate on one section of a paper at a time)
- Accept that there are no magical cures.
- Struggling with Fear of Failure?
- Acknowledge strengths skills
- Recall previous successes
- Work on weaknesses
- Take risks
- Struggling with Fear of Success?
- Get accurate perspective of what your success will mean
- Focus on your own needs and expectations rather than those of others.
- Examine your standards. Are they realistic? Are they set so high that they are causing you distress?
- Adjust your expectations and set realistic goals.
"What are behavioral strategies I can use to overcome procrastination?
Identify and Plan:
- Identify your special behavioral diversions
- Note when and where you use them
- Plan how to diminish and control their use
Bits and Pieces:
- Break large tasks into small ones.
- Prioritize work and set deadlines.
- Use behavioral suggestions, e.g., lay the book you have to read out in plain view.
The Ten Minute Plan:
- Work on a dreaded task for ten minutes, then decide whether or not to continue.
Bogged in the Middle:
- Change location or position; take a break; switch subjects or tasks.
- Make contracts with yourself or someone you see regularly.
- Reward yourself for accomplishment.
"What are cognitive strategies I can use to overcome procrastination?"
Prepare yourself mentally. Think of:
- When, not if
- The price of delay
- Positive thoughts
- Learn to tolerate discomfort
Watch for mental self-seductions into behavioral diversions. Examples include:
- "I'll do it tomorrow"
- "What's the harm of a half-hour of TV now? I've still got time"
- "I deserve some time for myself"
- "I can't do it."
Dispute mental diversions: Ex. "I really don't have that much time left, and other things are sure to come up later," or "If I get this done, I'll be better able to enjoy my time," or "Once I get started, it won't be that bad."