Ah, procrastination: sometimes it's my best friend. Sometimes is really screws me over. Can anyone relate?
Procrastinating is so easy, these days; literally it's at our fingertips. You can innocently pick up the phone, with no real purpose, and the next thing you know, thirty minutes has passed: you find yourself watching the emotional baby gender- reveal for someone you played lacrosse with in highschool ( IT'S A GIRL!!! PINK CONFETTI EVERYWHERE! ).
Ok, so that's great for them; but what did that do for you? Well, it delayed you from doing that thing that you don't want to do, but eventually have to do. When we put things off, it activates the reward centers in the brain: the immediate consequence of procrastination is a variety of emotional experiences included but not limited to: relief, soothing, calmness, satisfaction, contentment. Procrastination helps you avoid uncomfortable emotions.
Procrastination is a lot like a drug.
When the opportunity to engage comes up, you want to do it again, because it sure did make you feel good the last time you did! The long term consequence is: the thing you were hoping to escape or avoid hasn't gone anywhere. It still needs to get done, and now, there may be a time-crunch, or repercussions for doing the task later than scheduled.
For example: if you're in recovery, the idea of preparing and sitting down for a meal by yourself probably isn't your favorite. You can put it off, sure, but doing so makes it more likely that you'll push it off further, and again and again. The consequence: you either end up skipping the meal altogether, bringing you further away from your recovery goals, or you end up experiencing increased anxiety and distress when finally faced with the task, because you have less time and resources, and likely more things have piled up, as time has gone by!
Here are my tips to combat procrastination:
1. Make a schedule every day and designate time blocks for tasks
2. Schedule things you don't love earlier in the day - preferably the morning, and get it over with!
3. Build in rewards for doing hard things- it could be watching an episode on netflix, booking a massage, or ordering a book on Amazon!
4. Loop in a support for accountability: give them permission to follow up with you to see if you completed the task
5. Make a pros and cons list: next time you want to procrastinate, explore the short term consequences (relief!) vs long term consequences (still have to do it, increased anxiety, time crunch)
6. Did you give in to procrastination? Journal about it... was it worth? Why or why not?
Give it a go- and don't wait until tomorrow... why not start right now? :)