stop procrastinating

How to Stop Procrastinating & Reach Your Goals

The Nystrom & Associates provider consulted for this article is Martha Sepulveda, Outpatient Therapist.   Do you often procrastinate tasks, even when you know completing them will help you? While some procrastination can be normal, chronic procrastination can negatively impact your life over time through added stress and anxiety “Research shows that chronic procrastinators tend to earn less money, experience higher levels of anxiety, and even run a greater risk of cardiovascular disease,” says Martha Sepulveda, Outpatient Therapist at Nystrom & Associates. “Research has also shown that procrastination is linked to rumination or becoming fixated on negative thoughts.”  Related: 4 Anxiety-Related Negative Thought Patterns

What’s Wrong With Procrastinating? 

“When we procrastinate, we’re not only aware that we’re avoiding the task in question, but also that doing so is probably a bad idea and we do it anyway.” This can perpetuate a downward cycle. “People engage in this irrational cycle of chronic procrastination because of an inability to manage negative moods around a task.”  So, how do we manage negative moods around those nagging tasks and stop procrastinating? Martha outlines seven tools and techniques to help curb procrastination.   Related: Can Therapy Help With Insomnia?

Forgive Yourself 

Don't beat yourself up for not getting something done or call yourself lazy. Negative insults will not help you get anything done and only promote shame. Instead, forgive yourself and decide to take action.   Related: Guilt & Shame: What's the Difference?

Rewrite the Script 

Change what you are telling yourself about the task. Instead of focusing on the dread of doing it, give yourself some encouragement: “This is not my favorite thing to do, but I can get through it,” or “It will feel so great to cross this off my list.”  

Consider the Pros & Cons 

Ask yourself, "What do I gain from completing this task?" and "What is the cost of avoiding the task?" Considering these questions makes you aware of the costs and benefits behind finishing what you’ve been putting off.   Related: The Benefits of Vulnerability

Use a Buddy System 

Having accountability can help you accomplish a task and quit procrastinating. Tell a friend or family member your goals and how they might be able to help support you. Knowing that another person will follow up with you will help you act.  

Set a Reward  

Use something you like as a reward for finishing the task. It could be something as simple as having a cup of tea once the task is finished, or rewarding yourself with a walk or a new pair of shoes.  

“Procrastination stops when you take the chance to own your story, starting now.” - Martha Sepulveda

Take Breaks in a Task 

Overwhelmed? Make it simple and divide the chore into chunks. Set a timer, work on a project for 15, 30, or 45 minutes, and have a few-minute break in between. 

Limit Distractions 

Distractions are hard to mitigate completely, but you do have some control over them if you're using them to procrastinate. You can turn off certain notifications or log out of social media applications completely. Brainstorm other ways to limit distractions, like putting on headphones or a sign on your door that you are doing focused work.   Related: Social Media & Mental Health: What's the Impact?

A Word From Nystrom & Associates 

Procrastinating helps us avoid dealing with negative emotions. If procrastinating is impacting your quality of life, speaking with a mental health professional can help. Talk with us at 1-844-NYSTROM or request an appointment online.   

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