Procrastination Is Habit Forming
How to beat procrastinating your routine tasks.
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Today’s topic is procrastination. The quick and dirty tip is to make things habitual.
Listener Julia wrote in asking:
"Do you have any tips about procrastination? It gets me everywhere—in my school life, in my home life, in my cleaning. Every time I can find a reason to procrastinate, I use it. Exercise… I mean, everything."
How to Stop Procrastinating
We all procrastinate, and we put off the very things that are most important. What is up with that? You mentioned exercise. Here’s how I procrastinate exercise:
“Time to exercise!” I say as I leap out of bed. Then I look around the room for anything shiny. “Oh, look. A penny! That reminds me, I saw a lot of loose change around the apartment. Maybe I should gather it all up and take it to the bank while I’m thinking of it. And as long as I'm going to the bank, my checking account needs reconciling.” The next thing you know, it’s 6 p.m., and everything is done except my workout. Trainer Tyler would not be pleased. He might punish me by making me do my next workout in front of a mirror wearing spandex. Given my current body shape, that would be torture, indeed.
But I'll bet there's a lot you don't put off. Most people shower, brush their teeth, and get dressed every morning without procrastinating. They just do it. People who cook go shopping weekly and stock up. They don't procrastinate, they just do it. And when it comes to putting on shoes and socks, well, gosh darn it, I just put those socks right on my feetsies and leap into my day.
The difference is thinking. When you think before you act, you can talk yourself out of anything, no matter how important it might be.
Habits are Thoughtless
What makes the things you do on time effortless is not their importance. I can survive months without doing laundry, especially if I don't care about keeping my friends. Laundry is just not that important. I can get gum infections and lose all my teeth if I don't brush regularly. Brushing is that important. Yet I treat them equally. I do laundry weekly and I brush daily. That's because I've made them habits. Habits are actions we streamline to the point where they're no longer a decision, they're just something we do. They don't require thought, so we don't procrastinate. We just do them.