How to Stop Procrastinating

Ever have something that has to get done but even with your best intentions you find yourself putting it off and doing it at the last minute?

You’re not alone, We’ve all been there with that sinking feeling as looming deadlines approach. 

Today, we’re tackling the nemesis of deadlines and the arch-enemy of accomplishment: procrastination.

In this episode we’re looking at the psychology of procrastination, what the research says and give you an easy to implement protocol on how to stop procrastinating. 

Procrastination doesn’t mean you’re lazy; it’s a sneaky psychological dance involving fear, avoidance, and a dash of self-sabotage.

What happens when you procrastinate is the reward centers in your brain light up at the immediate pleasure of delaying, so you get short term pleasure followed by long term anxiety of not completing the task you actually want to get done. The challenge is that the rewards of delaying are more addictive than actually doing the task.

Piers Steel, author of “The Procrastination Equation,” identifies four key monsters fueling our procrastination:

  1. Dreading the task itself – maybe it’s boring, overwhelming, or simply unpleasant.
  2. Valuing immediate rewards (like scrolling or snacking) more than future benefits (a finished project or peace of mind).
  3. Overestimating our time or underestimating the task’s complexity, leading to last-minute scrambles.
  4. Setting unrealistic standards and fearing failure, leading to analysis paralysis and inaction.

A Research Study titled “Implementing Goal Achievement Intentions (GAIs) and Implementation Intentions (IIs) to Reduce Procrastination: A Randomized Controlled Trial”…..Published in the Journal of Applied Psychology (2015) dove deep and…

Tested the effectiveness of two specific tools in reducing procrastination:

  • Goal Achievement Intentions (GAIs) which are General statements about what you want to achieve (e.g., “I will finish this report”).

  • Implementation Intentions (IIs) which are Specific plans for when and where you will take action to achieve your goals (e.g., “I will write for 30 minutes every day after lunch at the library” or even better, schedule the time on your calendar and only do that).

Participants in the study were divided into three groups:

  • Group 1 was the Goal Achievement Intentions group: They Received training on setting Goal Achievement Intentions  for tasks they tended to procrastinate on.
  • Group 2: was the Implementation Intentions group: They Received training on setting both Goal Achievement Intentions and Implementation Intentions for the same tasks.
  • Group 3 was the Control group and Received no training.

All participants then reported on their levels of procrastination and task completion for the following two weeks.

The study’s results found that the Implementation Intentions group experienced the most significant reduction in procrastination compared to both the Goal Achievement Intentions and control groups.

By combining intention setting with specific action plans, you can break the procrastinating cycle.

Here’s a protocol to use to stop procrastinating

  1. Identify tasks you tend to procrastinate on. Be honest with yourself and write these things down on a list so you can refer to them as a reminder.

  2. Set a clear and specific goal for each task. Answer what the exact product of the task looks like, and be specific. The report needs to be 5 pages, 12 font, covering the following subjects and I will need 2 pieces of research to be able to write it.

  3. Specify exactly when and where you will take action to achieve your goal. For example, I will work on this for one hour from 10am to 11 am Tuesday and Thursdays. OR “I will write for 30 minutes on my essay tonight right after dinner”

  4. Schedule these implementation intentions in your calendar. Putting them on your calendar is very powerful because just like a meeting on your calendar, you’re less likely to blow something off if it’s blocked off and it takes a lot of pressure off you because you don’t have to come up with what to do, you just follow what your calendar says to do.

  5. Repeat this process for all your procrastination-prone tasks.

Here’s the really cool thing you’re going to find, once you get started on a project it becomes easier to keep going because the reward of working on it outweighs the reward of kicking it down the road and it creates an open loop, meaning you’re playing on psychological condition where your brain doesn’t like leaving something unfinished. THink of that cliff hanger of an ending of that weekly show that you can’t wait to see the next episode. Listen to episode 43 if you want to dive deeper into why this happens to our brains.

Procrastination may be cunning, but it’s not invincible.

By understanding the psychology behind it, implementing strategic protocols like the one we went over, you can reclaim your power, conquer those tasks you’ve been avoiding and win like the champion you are.

Your move

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