I recently shared Tim Pychyl’s 6 characteristics that make it more likely you will procrastinate on a task. One of the ways to lessen the amount of time you spend procrastinating is to flip those 6 traits from the negative to the positive.
This strategy will work for MOST tasks, however sometimes, flipping it just isn’t enough.
When this happens, try creating a procrastination list.
I read about this in Chris Bailey’s The Productivity Project and have had great success with the strategy.
On this list, write down meaningful and high-impact tasks that you would like to accomplish the next time you find yourself procrastinating. Here’s what I mean.
I view my prefrontal cortex (complex cognitive, emotional, and behavioral functioning) as an angel on my shoulder, and the limbic system (mood, behavior, instinct) as a devil on my other shoulder. When they get into a battle (“You should do this task”, says the angel. “But I really don’t want to, it’s not fun!” says the devil.) then you can still be productive even though you are in effect procrastinating.
When you know you’re procrastinating, rather than fighting it or feeling guilty, you can give yourself a choice of doing the task at hand or doing one of the tasks on your Procrastination List. If you choose a task on the Procrastination List, once you finish it your prefrontal cortex should be warmed up enough that you can attack your high value task with ease.
You can be productive even when you don’t want to be! This is a great way to let that “angel” win.
I’d love to hear from you – how do you manage procrastination? How have these ideas shifted your thinking? Comment below!
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