1. Get rid of catastrophizing.
One of the biggest reasons people procrastinate is because they catastrophize, or make a huge deal out of something. It may be related to how tough, how boring, or how painful it will be to complete the task; whatever the case, the underlying theme is that doing the task will be “unbearable.”
In reality, challenges, boredom, and hard work will not kill you — or even make you sick. Procrastination, on the other hand, is associated with stress — think of the stress you feel when you avoid making a phone call you know you need to make. So keep things in perspective: “Sure, this is not my favorite task, but I can get through it.”
2. Focus on your “why.”
Procrastinators focus more on short-term gains (avoiding the distress associated with the task), as opposed to long-term results (the stress of not doing it, as well as the consequences of avoiding this task). Instead, try focusing on why you are doing this task: What are the benefits of completing it?
If you’ve been putting off cleaning out a closet, imagine walking into the closet when it is decluttered and how good that will feel. And consider how much money you will make by selling the items on eBay, or how those in need will feel when they receive these items as donations.
If it is an exercise program you have been avoiding, focus on how exercising will help you have more positive energy, give you a boost of self-esteem (link is external) , and serve as a great role model for your children.
3. Get out your calendar.
Projects that will get done “when I have time” (as in “I will do it when I have time”) tend not to get done very often, if ever. You need to schedule when you are going to work on a project and block out that time, just as you would an important meeting.
And when it is time to do your work, set a timer so you can be focused for the entire allotted time.
4. Be realistic.
As you establish your schedule, set yourself up for success. Projects often take much longer than expected, so bake in some extra time. And look for ways to make it easier on yourself: If, for example, you are not a morning person, don’t expect yourself to get up an hour early to start the exercise program you have put off for months. It might be better to schedule that activity during lunch or before dinner.