Don’t procrastinate reading this post … it’s bad for your health.
In a study published recently in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, researchers had participants (some healthy and some with cardiovascular disease and hypertension) fill out questionnaires about their health and personalities, including their tendency to procrastinate. The results found that higher procrastination scores were associated with cardiovascular disease and hypertension.
The study didn’t explore the reason for the link, but previous research has found that students who procrastinated not only earned lower grades, but also reported higher stress and more illness. And it turns out a lot of us may be susceptible to the negative effects of the bad habit. A previous survey of over 24,000 people found that as many as 25 percent were chronic procrastinators, and that we spend a quarter of our days at work procrastinating.
So how do you overcome it … now, not later?
Think small. Researchers have found that when a deadline is too far into the future, we don’t see it as a “present” task. Instead of telling yourself you want to get in shape by summer, create goals for each week, like losing two pounds or taking three classes at the gym.
Schedule mini-goals. Take it a step further — instead of thinking “I need to finish this work project by Monday,” break it down into the steps you’ll take each day to stay on schedule.
Visualize your goal the right way. Sure, it sounds more fun to just dream about having a new amazing job rather than to dream about editing your resume, emailing your contacts, and polishing your cover letter, but research has found that the latter approach works. Don’t just fantasize about the end-result — visualize the steps you’ll take to get there.
Raise the stakes. Put your money where your mouth is with a website like stikk.com, which has you place money on the line for your goalfail to meet it and it’ll go to a friend, a charity of your choice, or an “anti-charity,” a cause that you’re against (those who choose the “anti-charity” option have higher rates of success).
Be nice to yourself. Slip up? Forgive yourself when you procrastinate — it’ll reduce the chance you’ll procrastinate on that same task in the future.
Diana Vilibert April 1, 2015