The prospect of doing something is often more intimidating than the actual act of doing it. In a world seemingly designed to distract us, it is really easy to defer something awkward or difficult to another time, imagining that our future self will be better equipped to handle the task.
In general terms we avoid these situations because they are uncomfortable. It feels horrible to tackle something you’ve been putting off, even if the long-term benefits will be considerable. Only when you finally accomplish your task do you see how silly it was to procrastinate.
How can we overcome this mental block? With some mental strategies:
Practice being uncomfortable. This can help in all sorts of situations, and reduce anxiety in many areas of your life. Try and go against your first small feeling of trepidation every day. Say hello to a new person, go out in public in a horrible jumper, sit and read in an unusual place. The more you push your boundaries of comfort, the smaller the anxiety over procrastination becomes.
Put some time aside in the morning. Having something written down, with an alarm, in the morning can give you the best chance of tackling an awkward task. We generally have more mental energy and willpower in the morning, and with some time set aside you can hopefully give yourself more of a distraction-free environment.
Make yourself accountable. The simple act of telling someone you will do something can be a great motivator. We generally don’t like going against our word, and saying something aloud helps confirm your intention that the task needs to be done.
Procrastination turns opportunity into loss: something that I have to manage every day. With a few more incentives, and helpful strategies hopefully I can stop putting things off!
*Thanks to Vic for the great post-it note image! See more here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/59632563@N04/6261230701