Procrastination. It’s Friday morning. The workweek is almost over for many folks. Holiday shopping is on the mind (for those who didn’t blow their whole budget on Cyber Monday). But you probably still have a long list of things to get done before the end of the day. Perhaps you’ve been thinking you should implement some better afternoon and evening routines to increase productivity, but just haven’t gotten around to it. More procrastination.

This week, the Wall Street Journal had a good article on new tools and strategies to help you battle procrastination. According to the experts, procrastination may be on the rise. With all those apps on our phone and other digital distractions, it can be harder than ever to get your project started. It’s not your fault, the AI powering those distractions is designed to distract you. You are fighting against a well-funded, well-researched enemy. But now, psychologists are trying to use tactics from cognitive behavioral therapy to help combat procrastination.

Cognitive Therapy Components

The Wall Street Journal cites statistics that say 15 to 20% of American adults chronically procrastinate. That rises above 50% when you ask college students. So, there’s a lot of room for improvement here. To fight back, there are four components of cognitive therapy that may be helpful.

  • Revamp Your Goals
  • Start Small, But Start
  • Eliminate Distractions
  • Assess Your Values

The goals recommendation goes beyond just procrastination. Setting goals that are specific and scheduled are good for anyone, especially a business owner (or someone just starting a business). When it’s a big goal or project, it’s best to break it up into smaller parts. As Desmond Tutu said, there is only one way to eat an elephant: one bite at a time. Make sure to reward yourself for the hard work as well. After you’ve knocked the goal off, celebrate. Find a way to take a break and do something that you enjoy.

Eliminating distractions is also good advice generally. When you are working on a task, try to remove everything else so you can focus. To help you focus, you can identify your core values. Examine how your goal or task helps you fulfill those values. When you can see how it all fits into the bigger picture, you’ll be more motivated to get the task done and reach your goal.

And the Number 1 Thing to do to Fight Procrastination?…

Get enough sleep. Another good, general bit of advice. More than 200,000,000 results when you Google it. You can even watch TED talks about it. It’s probably the most uncontroversial bit of advice going around today. No matter what the concern, getting enough sleep always seems to be a solution.

There are plenty of tools and strategies out there to help you fight procrastination. You’re not alone if you think you are chronically distracted. It’s a common problem and with a little focus on some of these strategies, you can get back on track (so you can get to your holiday shopping…)

Andrew Ayers
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I work with business and estate planning clients to craft legal solutions to protect their legacies.
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