What you can do if you’re tempted to procrastinate

“Oh, I still have time to do that later.”

Tomorrow. I’ll do it, I promise.”

“I simply don’t have the heart to do it now. I can’t do things when my heart’s not in it, right?”

“I’m not sure if now is the right time. Maybe if I do it tomorrow, when I’m more prepared, the result will be better.”

How many of us have used these lines to convince ourselves that it is okay not to do what needs to be done right away? Or, how many of us have lived dangerously through submitting things minutes or seconds before the deadline? Been there, done that. 

There are times where we just do not feel like doing the things we are supposed to be doing—be it homework, a project assignment, or making important decisions. We want to believe that there is something liberating about not thinking about our responsibilities, even just for a little while. News flash, it is not.

We end up not actually being able to enjoy the art of enjoying ourselves. Our heart beats faster every time a new group message comes in, we watch movies stressfully, and we feel guilty every time we want to indulge ourselves. We are on edge all the time to the point where we eventually spend our day doing nothing, caught up in a tangle. And once we finally get things done, we immediately wish why did we not do it sooner because we would have been able to savor and revel in actual freedom longer.

Hence, here are some tips to remove ourselves from the quicksand trap that is procrastination.

Create a to-do-list

Use our smartphone or carry-on planner and list all the things that we are aware we must do through the course of the month, based on time order or priorities. We can delete or put a check mark on the task we have managed to finish.

It is surprising how therapeutic it can be to see tangible proof how the weight on our shoulders has lessened every time we are able to scratch something off the list. In return, the list will continue to “scream” and stare at us in the face if we do not do something about it.

Make a reward list

Find the reason(s) to start as well as to keep going. List down all the pros and the things we might reward ourselves for completing something from our to-do-list. It can be as simple as having peace of mind, being able to binge watching our favorite TV series without unsettling feelings, not feeling guilty for making plans and wanting to hang out with friends, or being able to start a book we have been dying to read for ages.

Keep what drives us at bay and let it sit in the back of our mind. Make it close enough that we can smell that freshness of freedom, yet, far enough that it is still out of touch. Therefore, every time we are thinking about procrastinating, we better think again whether we are willing to lose our chances on having these “rewards”.

Rest if we must, but do not stop

At times, we cannot finish everything all at once. Things can be very trying, challenging, exhausting, and frustrating along the way. But, hey, that is okay. It means we are still making a progress.

If our mind and body tells us that we need a break, do it. Do not discredit our feelings. Exercise, eat something, or go take a power nap if needed. Recharge ourselves. Then, pick up from where last we left off. It is better than forcing ourselves for the sake of “just finishing the task”, or worse, putting off entirely for not being able to handle the bumps on the road.

Utilize our fears and anxieties

Sometimes we procrastinate not necessarily because we are lazy, but because we are afraid of the unknown and how things will pan out. Or, because we are anxious about how everything should be perfect and not wanting to mess up. Truth is, fear and anxiety should not hold us from doing what we have to do. It does not matter if we put something off, because procrastination will not get us anywhere, nor will it give us the answers we need to hear.

What we can do is to use that fear as a strength to carry on an important task. Know that it will make us feel responsible for our every action and to do things right, not what is easy. And trust, that we will not take things for granted. Because the reason for our anxiety is that we care, and that we are thoughtful. Fear and anxiety should be the reason why we should do something. If it can make us scared and care enough, it means that whatever it is, it is worth-doing.

Written by Rizka Ramadhenia Sita, Communication (PR) Batch 2013 and originally appeared in The Jakarta Post.

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