Are you aware of your penchant for procrastination?
The first step towards overcoming procrastination is making conscious the avoidance habit sequence that is virtually automatic when you face an aversive task. Keep a log of the thoughts and emotions that oil the well-worn grooves of delay. Tracking your tortuous moves allows you to evaluate and change the actions. Start a journal of your procrastination habits or dictate them into a tape recorder. Replay the tape later, when you are out of the moment of discomfort.
- Choose one or two examples of procrastination each day.
- Describe the activity you put off.
- Monitor your emotions to identify and record what you were feeling when you first acted to delay. (Was the activity unpleasant, confusing, uncomfortable, threatening?)
- Record what you were thinking when you first began to delay. (Peter K. excused himself from his therapy assignment by telling himself “very busy day in office today. Too many things to do.”)
- Record what you told yourself to keep procrastinating.
- What was the outcome?
- Then ask yourself: What is the discomfort that is so difficult to bear? That key question helps procrastinators see that the discomforts they are dodging—uncertainty, fear of performing badly—are, says William Knaus, “mental fabrications, pure fictions.”