Procrastination is a big problem for many of us. Chances are that we do not do those unpleasant tasks because they are, well, admit it, unpleasant. We don’t start new, positive habits because (*drumroll*) we really don’t want to. The New Year’s resolution sounded good. It even still is a good idea. But the real question is, will we ever do it?
If you want to actually do those things you have been putting off, try this approach:
Use the “if-then” planning method if you’re putting something off because it’s hard, boring or unpleasant. Making an if-then plan is more than just deciding what specific steps you need to take to complete a project–it’s also deciding where and when you will take them. By deciding in advance exactly what you’re going to do, and when and where you’re going to do it, there’s no deliberating when the time comes.
The investment will actually take place when you say, “If dinner is cooked, then I will start exercising as I planned to do.” The moment you decide to clean the garage at 3 p.m. on Saturday, stick to your word and do it. “If it does not rain on Saturday at 3 p.m., then I will clean the garage.” No second guessing yourself. That leads to procrastination. Make that a thing of the past.
Willpower alone can only take us so far. What if the will is not entertained or motivated enough to complete a task? Then, the task is left undone. Using the “if-then” planning method to tackle boring tasks is effective because no motivation, willpower or self-control is necessary. The main focus on this approach is that if a certain event takes place, you will respond in a specific manner.
If my children do not clean their rooms by 4 p.m., then I will take away their favorite toys.
No argument necessary. The “if-then” approach is specific, decisive and clear. It does not leave wiggle room for compromise or procrastination. The approach is predicated on a specific action and a response to that action. It does not matter if the task is unpleasant, boring or difficult. You are accountable to the response once the action takes place.
Making a decision in advance to follow through on a specific course of action, and then sticking to your decision when specific events unfold, leaves you with a choice. Either you stick to your word and commit to follow through, or you can revert back to old behavior and procrastinate.
Achieving our personal best is a good goal. It is even one that can be achieved if we are willing to live accountable to ourselves. In addition, a commitment to leaving procrastination behind is worth the investment in ourselves of both time and energy. Pondering why you decided to pursue the goal is one reason to start anew. But the biggest payoff is knowing you had the courage to change the only thing you can change in life—which is you.