Are you notoriously known for leaving tasks until the minute? Do you vow to never slack off again, but find yourself stuck in the same cycle of avoidance? It’s okay if you’re nodding yes. We all procrastinate from time to time. But if you’re a chronic procrastinator, you may notice this habit is interfering with your life, and potentially your relationship or marriage. Yet, no matter the circumstances, the GOOD news is that you can practice effective ways to stop procrastinating, strengthen your relationship, and receive couples therapy counseling services for an extra layer of support. Let’s get started!
1. Discover the root
While there are countless books, tips, and articles about how to stop procrastinating, few address the why. Many often assume those who procrastinate are lazy or lacking ambition. But, for some, procrastination is a coping mechanism for a trauma response. In fact, it may occur when your spouse continuously asks you to do something or when you try to find the self-motivation to finally organize the garage. These situations can leave you unconsciously triggered. Therefore, instead of being hard on yourself, self-reflect to find the hidden meaning. One way to do this is to increase your self-awareness through journaling. Here are a few questions to ask yourself.
- How do I feel when my partner gives me a task?
- What am I afraid of if I start the task? Or finish it?
- How do I speak to myself when faced with tasks? Do I think I’m not enough or capable of completing them?
- Does delaying a task provide emotional relief from an uncomfortable or intense emotion? If so, what is the emotion?
Asking these self-reflecting questions will help you examine the underlying emotions and motivations behind your behavior. For example, if you feel overwhelmed, scared, or anxious, these feelings could indicate a past traumatic experience.
2. Change how you approach tasks
If you keep postponing tasks, it’s time to create a new system. For example, start with something you feel confident about to activate the reward sectors of your brain. Doing so will boost your endorphins and make you feel proud for completing one item off your to-do list. However, if you only have an overwhelming task, do the easiest part first and progress. Indeed, breaking down an intimidating task into bite-size chunks based on a scale of easiest to hardest will help you tackle it at a reasonable pace while decreasing the intensity you feel.
3. Create an environment for productivity
Did you know our brain is an association machine? It’s constantly scanning our environment to form connections between various stimuli, experiences, thoughts, and emotions. So, if you’re avoiding having a serious conversation with your spouse, ensure your environment is set up to maximize your cognitive potential. For example, besides designating a time and place, remove distractions to zero down your focus and learn how to approach marital conflict. Even if you don’t feel like having the challenging talk, your brain will become associated with the environment you create while reducing any anxiety you feel. Additionally, you can receive relationship therapy counseling services to tackle your habit in a safe environment with your spouse. You don’t have to bear this challenge alone.
4. Adopt a different technique
Sometimes, the act of beginning can be the biggest challenge. But one of the best ways to stop procrastinating and start is by using the Pomodoro Technique. Created by entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo, this method breaks your work into manageable chunks. Each chunk is 25 minutes of work, followed by a 5-minute break. Here’s how you can do it:
- Pick a task.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes.
- Keep working until the timer goes off.
- Take a 2-5 minute break.
- Repeat these steps for four Pomodoro intervals.
- Reward yourself with a longer break of 15-30 minutes.
This tip helps you stay on track and gives you regular breaks to recharge: win-win to beat procrastination and feel a boost of productivity. Bonus, you also get a reward at the end for your effort.
5. Reward yourself
Sometimes, procrastination occurs from pure boredom. Your task or project may not be mentally stimulating enough for you to get the ball rolling. If that’s the case, define a reward beforehand to motivate yourself to start and complete it. Rewards act as positive reinforcement to increase the likelihood of the desired behavior. For example, if you’re dreading the monotonous task of washing the dishes, tell yourself, “The quicker I get this done, the faster I can relax and play a playful game night with my partner (pick a reward that creates feelings of excitement). Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying quality time with your loved one.
6. Ditch the perfection mindset
Lastly, you may feel compelled to procrastinate due to unrealistic standards you set for yourself. Perhaps you take too much on and quickly feel overwhelmed. Or you have a fear of failure, so avoidance feels less scary than confronting your task. Whatever the case, try to aim for progress over perfection and create more realistic goals for yourself. For example, instead of spring cleaning the entire house in one day, aim for a more approachable goal like two rooms. Achieving this number will still boost your self-confidence, enhance your relationship and make tomorrow less stressful.
Whether you’re procrastinating on a work task like answering emails or a more overwhelming one like having a challenging talk with your spouse, these ways to stop procrastinating will help you tackle the problem with more self-confidence and assurance. Yet, if you feel like overcoming this habit is too scary or challenging on your own, you can receive marriage therapy counseling services, whether in person or online. We have a network of trained and licensed couples counselors available to support every type of concern and relationship. You’ll quickly learn how to rid this habit and strengthen your relationship simultaneously.