We’ve all been there: putting off a paper because you don’t feel like it, even though the delay will make your life more difficult in the long run.
Instead, you grab your phone, which is inevitably in your pocket or on the table next to you, because it’s easier to sit and scroll through social media for hours on end.
But soon the deadlines start piling up, and the project you had two weeks to complete now has to be completed in just a few hours.
But why are you sabotaging yourself like that? And how can you prevent this from happening?
Behavioral expert and author Rene Rodriguez, from Minnesota, has revealed ways to stop procrastination and cope with tasks.
We all know it: putting off a work because you don’t feel like it or just because you don’t feel like it (stock image)
Are you a procrastinator?
When asked about some of the signs of procrastination, Rene told MailOnline, “So the first is difficulty prioritizing. We can struggle to even identify and prioritize tasks based on their importance and even their deadlines. And that can lead to you focusing on the wrong things.’
This is linked to emotional self-regulation, which is when you manage emotions such as fear, anxiety, and frustration.
Rene says that controlling these emotions can get in the way of achieving your goals and completing your tasks because it leads you to avoid and procrastinate on them.
“A big one is impulsiveness. Impulsivity is huge. Because when you think about impulsiveness, it’s that immediate feeling of something. It’s the immediate feeling that you feel like you have to act,” Rene said.
“If I see something and I’m impulsive, I might buy it right away. And so procrastinators are more likely to choose immediate gratification, which can lead to prioritizing pleasurable activities over the tasks required to achieve the goal.”
But it is also how one reacts to stress. Rene explained that for those who don’t procrastinate, the stress is associated with not completing the task, while for those who procrastinate, the opposite is true.
1. Develop awareness
“The first step is self-awareness. It really is the first step in making change in someone’s life. Ask why this is a problem? And how does it affect you? And can you really be honest about it?’ says Rene.
“You look in the mirror and say, ‘This is how it affects people’ and allow that. Maybe ask some people near and dear to you. Allow yourself to listen to that.’
Rene, who has been diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), says he has struggled with procrastination in the past and it helped to recognize how it made his family anxious.
Behavioral expert and author Rene Rodriguez, from Minnesota, USA, has revealed ways to stop procrastination and cope with tasks
He says that to improve your focus, think about how your actions affect those around you.
The 47-year-old said: ‘I really allowed myself to realize how it affected those I worked with, my family, my children, my colleagues, my husband, and how much anxiety my procrastination caused them.
‘Cause if you’re a procrastinator to those around you who aren’t (procrastinators), you’re driving them crazy. Because to them it’s why I’m putting this off to create massive stress later on? Let’s just do it now.’
2. Growing self-control
Rene explains a concept called “proximity of consequence,” where people’s actions are influenced by how far a consequence is from affecting their daily lives.
He uses the analogy of smoking. “Someone who smokes, (I say) do you know it’s bad for you? Yes. You know, it’s gonna kill you. They go, yes. I’m going, will that help you stop? They say no.
“Well, because the proximity of the consequence is so far away, we go into denial.
“I say to the same person, why don’t I just lace your next cigarette with cyanide? Would you smoke it? They said no. Why? Because I’m dying.
“The only thing I’ve changed is the proximity of the consequence. Rather than being so far away, it undoubtedly attracted instant change.”
To integrate this into your daily life, he says imagine the consequences of your actions right now and think about what you could lose.
3. Remove your ego
When you think about the consequences of your actions, Rene says to surround yourself with people who hold you accountable and remind you of the commitment you made to yourself.
“If you allow someone to coach you, then you can keep that responsibility to keep you on track.
“Over time, you’ll develop a new association for procrastinating, because that’s the goal: associating stress with procrastination. And if you can do that, change will follow.’
4. Stop the negative self-talk and overcome the fear of failure
Rene says those who talk to themselves or have low self-esteem are prone to procrastination because they doubt their own abilities.
‘That creates a kind of mental cycle spiral of, I can’t do it anyway. So why would you do it?’ said Rene.
Perfectionists have a hard time completing tasks unless they are considered perfect by their standards.
“Usually perfectionism manifests itself in the lack of action, because if it can’t be perfect, why do it at all? I have these unrealistic expectations of what something should look like,’ Rene said.
Rene says those who talk to themselves or have low self-esteem are prone to procrastination because they doubt their own abilities
“That’s one of the ones I struggle with. What’s interesting is that it leads to really high quality work when I get it done.
‘It leads me to go over things minutely, but if I’m not careful, I let that pursuit of excellence turn into perfectionism.
“But when it comes to procrastination, the pursuit of excellence turns into procrastination, then it’s perfectionism and that results in fear of failure.”
Rene explains that this is where the 80 percent rule comes in. As long as your work is at 80 percent standard, finish it and leave it at that.
“The concept is that there is no such thing as 100 percent perfect,” explains Rene.
- René Rodriguez is a TEDx keynote speaker, leadership consultant, and author of Amplify Your Influence: Transform How You Communicate and Lead (Wiley). Follow him on Instagram @LearnWithRene.