Many of us have important tasks on our to-do list that we keep putting off. Perhaps there’s an important phone call you’ve been meaning to make? Perhaps your car is making a funny noise that you need to check out? Perhaps clutter has been building up in your home and you’ve been meaning to tackle it? Perhaps you’ve been meaning to see a doctor about a health concern? There are all kinds of possible tasks you could be putting off. We all know the importance of such tasks and yet we continue to delay them – sometimes causing more problems in the long run. This guide explains how to finally break the bad habit of procrastinating.
Why do we put off important tasks
There are many different reasons as to why we put off certain important tasks. It could be because such tasks are time-consuming and we don’t know how to fit them into our busy schedule. It could be because they involve spending money that we don’t have. In other cases, such a task may be emotionally difficult or physically challenging.
Bringing ourselves round to doing these tasks can take a lot of motivation. There are often much more instantly gratifying things that we could be doing and these often end up taking priority. Our optimism leads us to believe that we’ll eventually get around to doing the task – just not right now.
The dangers of procrastinating
Putting off tasks can often make them more challenging in the long run. A common example is seeing the dentist about a toothache. The longer you put it off, the more painful your tooth will get. Not only this, but it could end up requiring more serious treatment – a small infection that could have been cleared up with antibiotics may turn into a more serious infection that may require root canal treatment or tooth extraction. Such a procedure won’t just be more unpleasant and time-consuming, but also more expensive.
Sometimes we can put off tasks so much that we end up missing opportunities that we never get back. This could include reconnecting with an old relative before they pass away or asking someone you’re attracted to on a date. When it comes to procrastinating at work, deadlines can be missed that could end up having a negative impact on your career. Sometimes putting off tasks can even be dangerous, such as ignoring a health concern.
Taking the plunge
Now could be the time to stop putting off those important tasks you’ve been delaying. This requires taking the plunge and not looking back.
Of course, some tasks require preparation and planning. Start by scheduling a date and then free up the time you need – whether it means taking the day off work or getting someone to babysit the kids. Plan to get rid of any distractions that might stop you from committing to your task. For example, if you’re worried that phone calls from friends might distract you while decluttering the house, tell everyone what you’re doing in advance and put your phone on mute.
Realise that there may never be a right time to do the task. Sometimes we can put off tasks in the false belief that in a couple weeks we’ll have more free time, more money or more energy to dedicate to that task. But when a couple weeks pass, we realise that we have just as little free time, money and energy. Unless you’re going through some real hardships, you should accept that now is as good a time as any.
Consider setting yourself a reward for completing the task if you feel that you need extra motivation. If it’s a stressful and demanding task, consider treating yourself to a day of rest afterwards providing that you succeed in completing the task. You can then focus on this reward while taking on the task.
With some tasks, you may have to ask for help. For instance, if a task is expensive, don’t be afraid to ask friends and family if you can borrow money if it means not having to take out a high-interest loan. Asking for help could be part of the reason you’re putting off the task. In these cases, you need to learn to swallow your pride.
There may be times when procrastination requires facing a fear. For instance, you may have a phobia of seeing the doctor or social anxiety that’s preventing you from looking for work. In these instances, don’t be afraid to look into therapy to help face your fear. A mental block is very different to poor motivation and requires a lot more support in order to take the plunge.