I’m willing to wager that there’s a task that you need to accomplish today that you’re not all that keen on doing. It might be finishing a set of math problems, tackling an important proposal, or even just taking the dog for a walk. We all face tasks like this on a daily basis, ranging from career-defining to simply irritating, that we’d rather not do, so the temptation to procrastinate is always strong. We all do it, even though we are aware that if left long enough, procrastination can poison our lives. There also seems to be thousands of people out there with tips on how to avoid procrastination. Surely if all these people were successful in their endeavours, they would be no end to what humanity could accomplish?
We don’t mean to add to this pile of often conflicting advice. All we’d like to do today is offer you a simple technique. As I am fearless in my pursuit of empirical data, I’ve been trying this technique myself for a while now and it seems to be working (don’t ever let it be suggested that I’m not dedicated to the readers of this column). I’ve also been a last-minute kind of person for years, and it’s something I’m trying hard to rectify. So, how does it work?
When faced with a task you don’t want to perform, simply count down from 3…2…1…and then perform that task immediately. The only rules are that it has to be something that is possible, and you have to be able to do it right now (so no editing presentation slides when you’re stuck waiting for someone else’s feedback). It is better to begin with simple task that can be done on the spot. Hate taking out the garbage? 3…2…1…take out the garbage. Just received an email about a social engagement you are lukewarm about? 3…2…1…make a decision and deal with it now. The aim here is not to make you more efficient at housework or encourage prompter responses to emails. The aim is to build positive habits with the use of simple tasks. That way, when it comes to something that is going to require more effort (getting to work on an essay, planning an anniversary party for your parents, managing your email backlog after a vacation), the habit will be ingrained you’ll jump right in.
It is a frequently stated fact that it takes about 21 days to build a habit, and it’s easier to build that habit if you do it at the same time every day. Hopefully, as you begin to incorporate this technique, you’ll face less resistance with every new task, allowing you to plan for bigger projects in the future. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and take out the trash.
© 晉博教育中心 Brighten Youth Education Centre