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5 Simple Techniques You Need to Learn to Stop Procrastinating

5 Simple Techniques You Need to Learn to Stop Procrastinating

Do you want to learn how to stop putting things aside and just get things done sooner rather than later?

Here are five simple techniques you can make use of right away to help you kick your procrastination habits to the wayside.

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5 Simple Techniques You Need to Learn to Stop Procrastinating

1. Explore and map out the task at hand.

Sometimes procrastination sneaks up on us because we haven’t properly addressed just what it is we should be doing in the first place. A task always seems larger or more complicated when you don’t know the specific details! Think about what you’re trying to accomplish. Do you know what your desired goal or end result is? Consider making a list or mind-mapping all of the pieces involved in this larger task. What small steps can you take now to get there? Does your task only involve yourself or does it involve others? If you’re working with other people, you may find you need to collect more information or conduct more research before you can begin your work in earnest.

2. Identify and take action for the first small step.

Instead of tackling the whole entirety of your task (which can be an exhausting an intimidating experience), simply start with the basics and take one single solitary step toward your goal. You’ll break through the ice of inaction and will have the momentum to continue on with the rest of your work.

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Remember, sometimes the only step you need to take is a small one in order to get the ball rolling. For example, if you are looking to book a special party for your family at a new restaurant, but are dragging your feet on the task, just pick up the phone to find out the restaurant’s hours or visit their website to see what their menu is like to get the momentum going. Problem solved and procrastination averted.

3. Schedule time for fun—and limit your work.

It might seem odd to schedule an enjoyable reward in advance of doing your work, but this can actually be quite useful in helping you to get things done. You’ll have an enjoyable activity waiting for you after a job well done. You could plan to grab a latte with your friend at the local coffee shop, or see that new action flick at the movies. Once you’ve scheduled your fun, the next step is to set a limit on your work time. Whether it’s a specific amount of time spent working or certain amount of work to be completed, you give yourself no other option but to get the work done instead of needlessly dragging it out over many days, weeks or even months. Sit down, get to work, and then enjoy your well-deserved reward!

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4. Go through the motions.

Okay, so you don’t feel like going to the gym or writing up that email report at work. Instead of getting mentally weighing yourself down with a mountain of excuses or reasons to not do something, switch your focus into the physical world. All you have to do is go through the motions to get you on your way to completing your task. Pack up your workout gear, grab your car keys and head out the door or open up your email program and report materials and start typing. You’ll be one step closer to doing what it is you have to do. It would be silly for you to stop now that things are in motion, so why not just keep on going?

5. Eliminate distractions.

Are you easily distracted while you work? If you know you are prone to distractions in your environment, be it a an impromptu conversation with a co-worker to constantly checking your cell phone or email, it’s time to eliminate those distractions. Turn off your cell phone, log off of Google+ or Pinterest, go to a quiet meeting room or area of your office, study in the library, sit in a coffee shop, use a pair of noise canceling headphones, or hire babysitter to watch your kids while you finish your freelancing job at home. Take care to remove any distractions in your environment. There’ll be nothing left to do but to sit down and get to work.

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What anti-procrastination tool will you choose to help you get your work done? Leave a comment below.

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Rashelle Isip

Blogger, Consultant, and Author

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems.

In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

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Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

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Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

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2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

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6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

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Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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