One of the biggest obstacles we face when trying to reach our goals is our lack of motivation to even get started. Whether we’re putting off scheduling an appointment or just avoiding the tedious project with a looming deadline, procrastination is a significant problem. This may be because we put things off until “someday.” Because “someday” doesn’t appear on the calendar, our good intentions never turn into action unless we create deadlines. The following strategies can help to increase motivation and decrease the tendency to procrastinate.
Break Goals Into Manageable Chunks
When you only focus on the big picture, it can be easy to put things off until later. Wishing you could quit your day job to launch a startup, or hoping you could lose 50 pounds fall into the “someday” category. However, if you break down your goals into smaller, more manageable objectives, then you can move them into the present category and start working on the steps to complete the more modest goals.
Starting on a task or significant project is hard, but if you can get over that initial hump you’ll gain some momentum, and your brain will more likely annoy you to keep working on the task. This is due to what is known as the Zeigarnik effect, a psychological phenomenon that says unfinished tasks are more likely to get stuck in your memory. This phenomenon is also why your to-do list continues to pop into your head until you write it down.
Fear of failure and perfectionism are at the root of some procrastination. To beat this particular type of procrastination, science suggests you start by listening to your inner monologue and flag the thinking that is less than favorable. If you catch yourself saying things like, “This will be a catastrophe,” or “I need this project to be perfect, ” start taming your anxiety with a deceptively simple sounding intervention. An easy way you can do this is by doubting your doubts. This can be accomplished by shaking your head while you are thinking those thoughts. While it may sound simple, recent studies say that it can help with the chronically uncertain.
Procrastination is the number one killer of productivity. To increase your productivity and get more done, try these simple ways to beat procrastination, and see how it can change your life.
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