In school, did you wait until the night before final exams to study? Did you put off a 15-page paper until 4 hours before the due date? Do you still need that extra jolt of “get it done now or else” to get started on your projects? If the answer is yes, you may have fallen into one of the top procrastination traps–the Adrenaline Junky trap. Here’s how to climb out.
1. Start early.
Really early. As in ASAP! Is your project due in 3 weeks? Start now. How? Discover new ways to get the job done that don’t rely solely on adrenaline in the following tips.
2. Tap into the Now.
Find out what motivates you right now to get going on the assignment. What pleasure or fun can you get out of getting something started now instead of putting it off?
3. Reward yourself.
Every time you start early, tell your brain that this is a good thing. Splurge on the special at lunch. Go to the gym after work. Celebrate starting now, and continue to celebrate your progress each week.
4. Increase the pain of the last minute.
Did you conveniently forget how much trouble you were in when you and 3 co-workers had to stay overnight at the office to pull off your eleventh-hour project? Tap into the pain and you’ll remember: “The only way I pulled off that last deadline was by downing 6 cups of coffee the night before. Then I suffered from headaches for the next 3 days, did poorly at work, and had to take a sick day to recover.” Is it really worth it?
5. List your stress triggers.
What things trigger stress in you? List them. For each item–for example, giving presentations–list a strategy you can use to deal with the stress in advance. My client Deanna took this approach. Now, whenever she has to prepare a presentation, she obligates herself to update her boss 2 weeks before the speech. This forces her to prepare and do a practice run at that stage. It also lowers her anxiety and reduces the likelihood of her putting the work off until the last minute.
Increase your awareness about what triggers stress for you. From there, you can build strategies to address that stress proactively, so that you won’t have to rely on the last minute to instigate action.
6. Kick the coffee.
If you’re downing 6 cups a day, cut the number in half. Take the edge off. Rely on things such as oxygen to increase your energy. Replace at least one cup of coffee with a brisk 15-minute walk around the block or at your company gym.
7. Meet your need for excitement outside of work.
Do you hunger for adrenaline in your life? If so, find other places to meet your need besides work. Don’t create stress at your job just to get that adrenaline rush. That’s not the place for it.
The world is full of sports and other challenging activities. Find one you like. Try rock climbing, running on the treadmill at your gym or playing video games. Get your high-adrenaline activities done in your leisure time. Then you can feel calmer, more focused and more productive where you need to be–at work.
Break the adrenaline habit once and for all! Use one or more of these 7 tips to help you start projects in advance and turn them in on time. Experience greater ease and productivity as you climb out of this major procrastination trap.