Mindful Monday no. 45 – Avoidance & Procrastination


Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.”

―Doris Lessing

Are you stuck in a cycle of avoidance and procrastination?  If so, you may have noticed that your avoidance and procrastination is depleting your energy and taking up more mental space than it is worth.

In an effort to delay the negative feelings associated with a task, procrastinators have a way of rationalizing the avoidance of tasks in the moment. The effect of such a delay is the task consumes our thoughts and becomes larger and more onerous in our minds than reality.

Caregivers may be avoiding tasks because they feel overburdened or anxious, or they are struggling with fatigue. A sense of futility can also be cause for avoidance. If a task is added to the list as quickly as a task is completed, it may feel like there is never going to be an end in sight.

If you are struggling with avoidance and procrastination, here are 7 helpful tips to get started with a task:

  1. Pay attention to your feelings surrounding the task. Are you feeling anxious? Are you feeling stressed? Are you feeling resentment? Acknowledging your feelings is an important step in recognizing when and why you procrastinate.
  2. Change your self-talk regarding the task. If you keep telling yourself you should do the paperwork, you will likely perceive the work to be a bigger burden than it is. Instead, say you I to get the paperwork done. You can talk yourself into facing the task by your own self-talk.
  3. Focus on the short-term and long-term benefits  List any positive outcomes for completing the task and try to visualize the feeling of completion. For some people, the satisfaction of crossing something off the list can be motivating enough to tackle the task. For others, tying the task to your long-term goals can provide a sense of forward momentum.
  4. Offer yourself a reward for tackling the task. If you have been desiring some time to read your novel or if you want to treat yourself to an evening out with friends, make a commitment to reward yourself for completing the task.
  5. Try temptation bundling. If you are really putting off a task, combine it with something you enjoy. Listen to an audio recording of a book you’ve wanted to read while folding the laundry. Temptation bundling is an effective way of crossing two items off your list.
  6. Break the task down. Starting with a small task can motivate us to get the larger task done. Crossing these small tasks off our list can increase our body’s production of dopamine which can offer the gratification to propel us to complete more.
  7. Set the timer for 25 minutes. The pomodoro technique is when you set your timer for 25 minutes, work intensively until the buzzer, and then take a five minute break. Once you’ve completed 4 pomodoros you can increase your breaktime to 30 minutes. Knowing that you are committing to work for less than half and hour can really trick us into using our time more valuably.

Do you have any tips or tricks for the chronic procrastinator? Please let us know in the comments.



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