Breaking the Procrastination Habit

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“I’ll do that later.” “ when I find the time,” “it depends on my mood,” “when I feel like doing it,” “perhaps, in time, we’ll see.” Do these phrases sound familiar? When saying these becomes too comforta
“I’ll do that later.” “…when I find the time,” “it depends on my mood,” “when I feel like doing it,” “perhaps, in time, we’ll see.” Do these phrases sound familiar? There is actually nothing wrong with these words; but when saying these becomes too comfortable too regularly, it has already become an implication of a behavioral pattern. You have snuggled lovingly into the procrastination habit.

Good news is, you can still take better control of your life if you break this procrastination habit. You will discover that when you take the action, the necessary motivation will follow.

Here are some suggested techniques for breaking the procrastination habit:

1. Make a list.

Definitely there are things needed to be done. Sort out the tasks by making a list of what you “should” do. Do the distasteful and unrewarding tasks first and check them off as you do them. You will notice a psychological lift as you accomplish each task.

2. Weigh your reasons.

On one side of the paper, list the reasons why you are procrastinating or delaying the fulfillment of the particular task. On the other half of the paper, list the benefits for taking action right away.

3. Bite-size it.

Do the “divide-and-conquer” approach to manage your tasks especially the big and daunting ones. Break the task down to smaller, manageable steps.

4. Keep a journal.

Record the “shoulds,” have to’s,” “musts,” “ought to’s” and other negative motivation techniques you may have been using on yourself. Make a point to challenge these, and substitute “I choose to do” thus and so. Examine each situation, each task, each problem or situation objectively, in light of your own best interest. Keeping a daily journal will help make you aware of how you may be sabotaging your own efforts and thus encourage you to “want” to change.

5. Set up your own rewards system.

When you set up rewards for yourself, make sure they are highly satisfying. Reward yourself immediately each time you choose actions instead of procrastinations. The most effective reinforcement in developing new habits is positive reinforcement.

William James in his essay on habit has some suggestions on self motivation and new habits:

• Decide to start making the change immediately while you are motivated.

• Don’t try to do too much too quickly. Just force yourself to do one thing that you’ve been putting off.

• During the period when your new habit is taking root, do not permit any exceptions. William James compared it to a rolling ball of string: a single clip can undo more than many turns can wind up. He said success or failure, during the retraining period, hinges largely on you making a commitment and closely following the schedule you set up yourself.


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