Effectiveness X Value
Impulsiveness X Delay
Now let’s look at the other elements in the procrastination equation.
If the task you are trying to complete holds little value for you, you may find it hard to get started and keep going. For example, many people find it hard to keep their car clean. So let’s focus on that as an example.
Games and Goals:
To quote Mary Poppins:
In every job that must be done
There is an element of fun
You find the fun, and snap!
The job’s a game
And every task you undertake
Becomes a piece of cake
A lark, a spree!
Make a game of keeping your car clean. Time yourself on the vacuum. Play loud music while you wipe the windows. Count the number of papers you remove. Have a contest with your family to see who has the cleanest car.
Consider your energy. Don’t take on the task when your vitality is at its lowest. Make sure you are rested and fed.
It’s OK to come at a task from another angle. For example, you might put in a new CD you want to hear and while you are there, put away and stack the CDs already in your car. Opening the glovebox for some gum could start you on pulling out all the old receipts and putting them in a bag which you then bring inside.
And don’t forget the reward at the end. Plan on giving yourself a treat when you complete that onerous task.
So here are those points again to consider about adding value to a task.
1. Use games and goals to keep you on track
2. Energy crisis—start early, rest, eat, exercise, respect your limitations
3. Take on a tangent task that will lead to the target task
4. Reward yourself
I love the internet. The worldwide web is always calling to me. Who is that actor? What’s the recipe for guacamole? Where is Serbia? Who won the Australian Open in 1987? How do you cure procrastination? Because the internet is always there, my willing servant, I can waste a lot of time looking up anything that pops into my head. Your distractions may be TV or games.
If you are impulsive like me, you may start just looking up one thing or watching one show or playing one game and finding yourself there hours later. So here are some thoughts on managing those impulsive tendencies.
Take those temptations out of reach. Unplug the computer, hide the Xbox, put the remote outside.
If you need to expend extra effort to indulge in your usual distractions, this may be just enough time to put yourself back on track.
Telling others of your plans to complete something and making a bet is often very motivating.
You really don’t want to pay out on your slackness and give someone else the benefit of your procrastination. Use this method carefully, though. You want to end up fired up about your task, not just mad at your friend because they took $20 from you.
Think of the worst case possibility if you don’t get the job done. Shame, failure, losing your job, disappointing your family, getting sick. Really paint a dark picture. Again, this is meant to motivate
you. If it hurls you into a dark depression so you get nothing done, this is NOT the technique for you.
Set up some habits that support you to curb your impulsiveness. Having a clean place to work and live makes it much easier to stay on track. Think of all that clutter as potential distractions and detours toward your goals.
And while we are at, let’s have a look at goals. Think of the acronym TIME.
T Timely. When will you complete it?
I In Depth. What exactly are you trying to do? Have you thoughts though the steps?
M Meaningful. Why does this matter to you? How does it relate to your life view?
E Exciting. What about this task excites you, challenges you, quickens your heartbeat?
Some tips on dealing with impulsiveness
1. Take away the cues
2. Let yourself have a small controlled taste of what distracts you
3. Catastrophize! Some dark thoughts about your possible failure.
4. Set some habits to support you
5. Set goals for your brief time on earth.
“Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.” ~Spanish Proverb