While we all procrastinate at times, for 20% of people it is a serious problem, undermining their effectiveness – not to mention their confidence.
Definition of Procrastination:
When you delay work that you know is necessary to accomplish your goal and advance your agenda, you are procrastinating.
Did you know?
There is a connection between procrastination and managing your emotions. Researchers found the amygdala, the brain’s security guard that activates the alarm in the flight or fight response, is larger in people who procrastinate, and the connection to the decision-making center is weaker.
This means that when stressed, someone who procrastinates will have a harder time making decisions; there is a tendency to put off taking action. This sets up a vicious cycle!
During the stress reaction (flight or fight), the brain evaluates the experience, is this a threat and something I should avoid? This delays any action and increases anxiety. It ends up taking longer to think it through. Unfortunately, the brain “learns” this causes increased anxiety and may decide against acting.
Because our brain is plastic – it can learn something new! This makes it possible to change your reaction. Plasticity says when you keep doing something the same way, it becomes your default mode. Change how you respond and your brain will “learn” it is OK to take action.
Mindfulness training has been shown to shrink the amygdala and improve the connections to the part of the brain (prefrontal cortex), that is responsible for higher functions like decisions and perspective.
Tips to Power Though Procrastination
Check out the Priority Matrix and organize your tasks according to the 4 quadrants. Be sure to include “tasks” that help you relax and renew.
Spend 5-15 minutes at the end of the day setting up your priorities and agenda for the next day. Use the Daily Review. We present this in the “Tools” module of Get It Done.
#3 Five Minute Rule
Use small chunks of time to accomplish your goal. Do not put off your task, “because you do not have time to focus.” Do what you can in the small bits of time that is available.
#4 Schedule in Breaks
Set up break times as part of your schedule. You may not “feel” like you need them, however, they will help you sustain the effort required to carry on.
#5 Celebrate Accomplishments
Perfectionism can be a driver for procrastination. Be sure to acknowledge your hard work and accomplishments along the way.