4 Questions You Can Ask to Beat Procrastination

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Procrastination is a curse we all have to deal with at least occasionally.

Whether it’s binge watching the latest trendy TV show on Netflix or making a million minor edits to an essay before sending it out for evaluation, we all procrastinate.

But more often than not, all it does is delay or compound the problem.

So how can we get rid of procrastination effectively and eliminate the guilt associated with it?

The popular blog Fast Company recommends asking yourself the following questions:

1. What one thing can I do to get started.

By asking yourself what you can do to take that first meaningful step, you can begin mentally breaking up the project into smaller sub-tasks, then pick the simplest one to start on. Once you begin focusing just on that, you’ll likely have more motivation to keep going.

2. What are my three biggest priorities today?

Ask yourself which three tasks—and they need to be concrete actions to take, not vague goals like “make progress”—you need to nail today. Then commit to them. Block out the first few hours of your day to focusing exclusively on those. Only when they’re done should you move on to your other work.

3. How can I make this easier?

Habit-building expert S.J. Scott says the easiest way to build a new habit is to start really small: “You want to commit to something so easy that it’s impossible to miss a day,” he writes on his blog. Once you become consistent, you’ll find it far easier to increase the duration.

Alternatively, you could just delegate. Ask a team member to take on a routine task or two that would free up your time and focus so you take a stab at whatever you’ve been putting off. Less up-front effort equals less reason to procrastinate.

4. What will go wrong if I don’t do this now?

Ask yourself how you might lose out or suffer the consequences if you delay any further. And don’t focus just on the immediate impact. Strongly remind yourself of the long-term fallout that comes from habitual procrastination, from limited career growth, not enough money, deteriorating health, or damaged relationships.

So next time you realize you are procrastinating go ahead and ask yourself the 4 questions above. They’ll get you moving on the right track again right away.

But this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t take time off to relax and let your mind wander once in a while. As we grow up we often convince ourselves that we should be productive 100% of the time and forget the value and importance of rest and play.

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Ben Baker is the communication officer and content editor for the team here at Science of Zen. His interest in personal growth topics range from mindfulness, meditation, neuroscience, performance psychology and natural health.