Wouldn’t it be great if you could get past the urge to procrastinate and just get things done when you need to, without stress or last-minute problems?
You can certainly make a good effort to, writes Heidi Grant Halvorson, associate director for the Motivation Science Center at Columbia University’s business school. She recommends you start by examining the reason you’re putting off your work and then use a tailored tactic to get yourself going again.
1. You procrastinate because you’re afraid you’ll mess up somehow. Instead of focusing on what will happen if you don’t finish your work—such as “my boss is going to be so mad”—focus on what will happen if you do finish your work. This switch to a positive outcome—“my boss will be so pleased with this project”—can help you stay motivated.
2. You put off a task you don’t feel like doing. Ignore that feeling. You can get things done even if you don’t feel like it. Enthusiasm isn’t a requirement of accomplishment.
3. You delay something when it’s dull, difficult or otherwise unpleasant to do. Make a plan for how you’ll accomplish the task, and then stick to it. When the time comes to get it done, you’ll have no excuses.
— Adapted from “How To Make Yourself Work When You Just Don’t Want To,” Heidi Grant Halvorson, Harvard Business Review’s HBR Blog Network.