How I Learned to Overcome Procrastination (Mostly)

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Confession: I used to be the worst procrastinator. So bad in fact that I turned in my own college application late. #truestory

In college I still put things off, pulling all-nighters during finals week and for most of my major papers. It wasn’t until after college that I learned how to get things done more consistently.

How did I do it?

One day I read something that really hit me:

The next time you think, “I’ll do it later,” do it now instead. Repeat this 20 times.

I don’t remember where I read it, but I do remember feeling tired of not getting things done.

So I tried it.

And it actually worked.

It took about three weeks to really notice a change in my behavior, but I think that doing 20 things in a row right away helped kick-start the change.

I’m still not perfect.

Even though my default mode has shifted from “I’ll do it later” to “I’ll do it now,” I still sometimes procrastinate. When that happens, I tend to have a conversation with myself that sounds something like:

Motivated self: I can’t believe I haven’t done [whatever it is]. I’m ridiculous.

Procrastinating self: Don’t worry, you’ll get to it.

Motivated self: Maybe, but I feel lazy and like it’s weighing on me. I want to get it done.

Here’s something else that helps:
When I’m still having trouble finishing something, I think of this thing that a wise friend once told me. This wise friend had broken her procrastination habit and was, like me, a perfectionist. She told me this: “Sometimes I have to stop obsessing about getting an A and just get a B+.”

I was like, “Ooh. That’s good.”

So that's my advice to you, especially if you’re a perfectionist:

Stop obsessing about it and get a B+.

Is your perfectionism leading to procrastination? If so, stop obsessing and just do it. #nike

Here’s proof that this is an ongoing process for me:
Want to know the last time I procrastinated? Yup, this article.

Then this morning in the shower I had a little conversation with myself and heard my friend’s words, “Get a B+.”

So that's what I did. I got out of the shower and got it done.

It may not be perfect.

But it's done.



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