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Confronting Procrastination

Procrastination can be defined as an automatic habit pattern in which an individual needlessly puts off, postpones or delays relevant activity until another date or time in the future. In this mindset, you are likely to tell yourself that “later is better” or that you’ll get to the task at hand when you are feeling more inspired or energetic. Of course, from time to time, every one of us needlessly postpones activities for another day…but, when you are depressed or feeling distressed you are more likely to engage in procrastination.
The tips below can assist you if you also seem to have this issue:
  • Make a list of your priorities and clearly identify as many of them as possible. Stick with them!
  • If a challenge seems complex, break it down into smaller tasks or pieces. Even the most complex task has a simple way to begin. Work in small steps until you are done.
  • Start by committing yourself to working on the project at hand in small increments. I often advise my clients to sit down for 5-10 minutes at a time, focusing solely on the task at hand. If you can keep going, even better!
  • When you have something important that needs to be accomplished, refuse to engage in diversions. Make sure the TV is off, and try to stay away from surfing the Internet.
  • When you have multiple activities that need your attention, list them out in order of priority. Check off each activity as you complete it. Seeing your progress can motivate you to continue down the list and achieve more and more.
It is important to remember that if you are depressed, it can be very difficult to have the energy to take action. Remember that procrastination can be a major impediment to overcoming depression.  Being active (or even proactive!) is a good way to work against depression, and procrastination can get in the way of this…
I advise my clients, when possible, to take on the “do it now, not later” approach. This approach involves doing things within a reasonable amount of time, instead of putting them of indefinitely. Try to keep up, whenever possible, with your daily responsibilities and really take time to step back and question yourself when you might be trying to convince yourself to “do something later…”
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