3 behavioral tips to stop procrastinating:
Do the NIS:* “Next Indicated Step,” however small, and tell yourself, “The whole world agrees I should take this step right now.”
For example, if you have difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, the first NIS is to put both feet on the floor and push up from the bed. You tell yourself “Good job!” Do the next NIS: walk to the bathroom and brush your teeth. Tell yourself “You’re doing great!” And so on, until you are on your way out the door to work.
Today, prioritize tasks into “The two I’s”: “important” and “immediate.”
First do the immediate (deadline) things on the list. Then do a little of one or two important things that are coming up in the near future. Then reprioritize the list for the next day based on what you accomplished today.
“The four P’s”**: perfectionism leads to procrastination, leads to paralysis, leads to self-punishment (negative thoughts such as “I’m a loser.”).
This is a self-perpetuating cycle: self-punitive thoughts at the end of the “4 p’s thought-chain” lead to the person concluding, “What I really need to do is be more perfect next time.” And the cycle starts all over again.
The way to stop procrastinating is to challenge the faulty beliefs that make up your own unique brand of perfectionism. Realize who the beliefs came from in childhood or young adulthood (from whom did you experience a message you had to be perfect to be liked or loved). Accept that the thoughts may have been adaptive in childhood but they aren’t now. Stop repeating the negative thoughts in your head and plant healthier, more realistic thoughts such as “This is good enough,” or “Perfection is the enemy of good and great.”
- *NIS… I first heard of the concept “First Indicated Step or Action” from people who attend 12-step meetings. I’ve heard it can also be found in Buddhist teachings and that it is sometimes referenced in the process protocols of several professions. The part of the “First Indicated Step or Action” concept that reads “however small, and the whole world agrees I should be taking this action right now” was added by me.
- **“The Four P’s” … I first heard of this concept from a lecture by Dr. Edith Eger, a psychologist who presented at the 2017 conference on “Traumatic Grief after Violent Dying.” The “four p’s” concept is taken from Dr. Eger’s presentation and may not be an exact representation of her theory or work.
- The book “Feeling Good,” by David Burns, is a guide to applying cognitive behavioral therapy to combat depression, anxiety, and bad habits.
Please note that this blog is based largely on my experience and the training I have received over the thirty years I have practiced psychotherapy as a post-master’s degree Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and not based on my own scientific studies. Also please note that a blog is not a substitute for direct treatment of mental or physical health issues. It is merely an offer of suggestions which may prompt you to attend to symptoms with a licensed mental or physical health professional.
This blog about psychology is general information shared for educational purposes and it is the opinion of the author. It is not psychological therapy and it is not directed toward any individual person. For links to evidence-based research on some of the different modalities mentioned in these blogs, click here…