Are you a procrastinator, looking to change your ways? It’s possible with just a small change in mindset.
Click start to play today’s Spell It, where we learn ways to ‘fulfill’ our goals, despite struggling with putting off tasks.
Procrastination is often thought of as a negative trait, associated with laziness, lack of motivation, and poor time management skills. But there’s a way to turn it into a valuable tool that boosts productivity.
The key is to reframe it as a form of delayed gratification, according to a May 2023 report in the US-based news website Medium. It’s the ability to delay an action for an immediate reward, in order to receive a more favourable reward at a later time. Studies have shown that the most successful people often mindfully choose a distant goal over reward in the present. Consistently doing so in daily habitual choices builds up to long-term success, according to a December 2019 study in the US-based psychology news website Positive Psychology.
Here are some strategies to try, to make the switch from procrastination to delayed gratification:
1. The Pomodoro Technique
This time management method is based on 25-minute stretches of focused work, broken up by five-minute breaks. Longer breaks of 15 to 30 minutes can be taken after four consecutive work intervals (each work interval is called a pomodoro, which means ‘tomato’ in Italian). For procrastinators, setting a timer and fulfilling each pomodoro is a great way to overcome the initial resistance to starting a task; you’ll find yourself building momentum over time, as well.
2. Be mindful
When you’re procrastinating, you can do it more productively. It sounds counterintuitive, but it works! Rather than mindlessly scrolling through social media or other unproductive activities, you could listen to podcasts on topics relevant to life and work, or catch up on reading. So, while you’re still feeling rewarded for working hard, you’re also making progress towards your goals.
3. Set priorities
Differentiate your tasks based on their level of importance and urgency. This will help you accomplish the most critical tasks first, and in turn, reduce your anxiety. Knowing you’re making progress also gives you a sense of motivation and accomplishment, allowing you to continue working and crushing your goals.
4. Embrace imperfection
Don’t find yourself stuck or paralysed by the fear of making mistakes, or falling short of your high standards. By giving yourself a little leeway to make mistakes, you can approach tasks with a sense of curiosity and experimentation, take risks and try new things.