Procrastination vs. Rewards

Overcoming procrastination is one of my most popular topics when teaching clients about time management.  It appears to be something that everyone struggles with — including me.

When faced with a task we’d rather avoid, we can be very creative in coming up with other things to keep us occupied.  I’ve written previously about my struggle to overcome the lure of on-line Sudoku (see In Praise of Deadlines).  Your particular stalling tactic might be watching TV, surfing Facebook, or obsessively playing a game on your handheld device.  We tell ourselves that we work hard and we’ve earned this particular reward.  “Just one more game”, we promise ourselves, “and I’ll get to those taxes.”  But we don’t.

Here’s another approach.  Take those fun things that you’d rather be doing, and turn them into rewards for getting that onerous task done.

Before turning on the TV or opening Facebook or picking up the handheld, set a timer for 15 or 30 minutes, and work on the thing you have been avoiding.  When the timer goes off, you have earned your reward.  If you do this every day, you’ll get that task done and be able to enjoy your free time knowing that you are making progress on your onerous task.

You may discover that once you get started on this task that you’ve been avoiding, it gets done more quickly and easily than you expected.   And then you can really enjoy that game of Candy Crush!

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