If you’re procrastinating on a challenging project, read this story and then get back to work.
Alice Boyes, Ph.D., a former clinical psychologist turned writer and author, attributes procrastination to three factors: habits, anxiety, and flawed thinking patterns. “When you understand these causes, you can use strategies that target them,” Boyles writes in a recent Harvard Business Review article. “You can minimize minor incidents of procrastination—such as when you drag your heels and don’t start a project until close to its due date—and head off the bigger problems your patterns of delay are causing.”
She offers several approaches to minimize procrastination, including:
Schedule your deep work consistently. “Deep work is generally challenging, but doing it consistently each day, in a regular pattern, will make it less so,” Boyes explains.
Create a process for new tasks. Begin new tasks following the same steps.
Disentangle your feelings. Accurately identifying your emotions will help you manage them. “When a task bores you, schedule a reward for completing it or do it in a more fun way,” she recommends. “When a task makes you anxious, start with the elements of it that make you the least apprehensive and progress from there.”
Limit yourself to short work periods. There are a few ways to accomplish this approach, Boyes explains. Plan to work on whatever you’re avoiding for 10 minutes today and pick it up again tomorrow, or focus on it for a maximum of 90 minutes today.
For more strategies, read “How to Stop Procrastinating.”