Three Ways to Give Procrastination a Smackdown

Are you deadline averse? Many of us are. Yeah, we can burn the midnight oil to make a “due tomorrow” deadline. But most people, including myself, find it soooo easy to distract yourself from the stuff you don’t love doing, which is what most days are made up of.

So let’s get on into the nitty gritty of how to get you off that procrastination hamster wheel.

Tip 1: Get cozy with the Premack Principle

So what to do when you’ve got a difficult proposal due in a couple of weeks or need to get your Quickbooks in order but just can seem to motivate? Get yourself intimately familiar with the Premack Principle. Created by psychologist David Premack, this theory is what your momma probably used to get you to eat your vegetables when you were growing up: it’s easier to get an unpleasant activity done if you have a pleasant activity  (going on Facebook, having a glass of wine with your husband, going to see that George Clooney movie) “scheduled” after. You can use this in your work—and in your life:  Make your bed before you have coffee or turn on that computer. Write those thank you notes on your honeymoon. Floss before having sex.

Tip 2: Recharge and Regroup

I know, it ain’t always Premack easy. The straight truth is you’re too Hungry, too Angry, too Lonely, and too Tired (I’m borrowing HALT from A.A.; it’s tool for monitoring relapse) to make another decision or even come close to doing the harder thing first. You just don’t have the juice for it.

Now’s the time to step down. Get some rest and some food. Have some intimate time with your spouse. Call Merry Maids to come clean your crib. Soak up Steven Covey’s Seven Habits. Then come back and put your life in order so that it’s easier to do the harder thing first. Take the drama out of leaving the house by having a place for keys. Fold one item for every item worn to stop the pile up. Make as many tasks as you can as automatic and habitual as brushing your teeth at the same time everyday.

Tip 3: Stop calling yourself a procrastinator

Here’s the deal: If you’ve ever gotten your TPS reports to your boss on time, you’re not a procrastinator. If you wrote a term paper at the last minute, but turned in on time, you’re not a procrastinator. If you get on a plane before they shut the cabin door, you’re not a procrastinator. I want you to stop calling yourself such because negative labels like this are straight-up mean. Own that you love Facebook, long-winded conversations, and TED way too much to do the harder things in life first.  Connection and pleasure first might just be the way you roll. Own it and love it.

Would love to hear how you just say no to procrastination. Share your own tips in the comments.

Be peace, be love,