The Power of Habits: How to Overcome Procrastination

Even as I write this, let’s be real…I’m procrastinating. My fiancé said that it’s my part in doing the research for this post, but like all old habits…they die hard. Alas, I’m here to show you how to not be ashamed but rather empowered by your persistent procrastinating. While like any other terrible habit like biting your nails, drinking far too much caffeine or shopping when you should be paying your rent, procrastinating can easily evolve into worse habits. But by turning your negative into a positive your to-do list might actually get a heck of a lot shorter. Here’s how:

Organize by priority

List making isn’t just a good way to tell someone what you want for the holidays, it’s actually a fantastic way to prioritize your to-dos! Rather than freak out about all the things you need to do by a given date, carve out some time in your day to just simply order your outstanding items by how important they are. To take a page out of my own book: I have a tendency to make a mountain out of a mole hill and freak out when I feel like I’m being weighed down by one too many assignments or meetings. By ordering your tasks by how important they are in relation to the long run, you will quickly see how silly ‘make a dozen cookies for the charity bake sale’ seems in comparison to ‘get that performance review from your boss by Friday.’ It also allows you to visualize your procrastination, take a look at what your number one on your to-do list is and work your way to toward the lesser tasks. Allow yourself to take your time (a more PC way of saying procrastinate) on the lesser tasks. See, I told you procrastinating wasn’t all bad!

When in doubt write it out

While making a priority list is a quick fix, I am a firm believer in writing everything down, some folks run on Dunkin…I run on writing. I still get remarks in the newsroom when people twice my age notice I use a Filofax to jot down quick notes and assignments (Google it if that sounds like a foreign language). Keeping online calendars are always a good idea, but putting your pen to the page triggers the brain to recall that specific piece of information. One look at my computer monitor and you might think I’m a hoarder with the amount of stickies and post-its I keep. Keeping a notebook handy is even easier if the wall of stickies isn’t your thing. Carry it around with you and jot as you go along to keep on top of important dates and assignments. Just think of it as a throwback to yesteryear writing your homework down in your grade school agenda.

Rewards system

Any basic psych-101 class will teach you about Pavlov’s dog theory. You know the one where the dog gets the treat every time they do something right. It’s classical conditional training for those who might have slept in that day and it’s something you can even implement to get that last report finished or when you’re burning the midnight oil. Take a page out of the textbook and treat yo’ self girl! Need to read 100 pages before your next class? Give yourself a snack reward or reality TV break every 25 pages. Last minute memo due on your boss’s desk first thing tomorrow morning? Set a time goal to dedicate to non-stop work before you can make it to happy hour in time as your treat. Giving yourself that little mile-marker in between last minute assignments will make the day go by a little easier but will also get you to push aside distraction and work to meet both work and fun-related goals.

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