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Tips for preventing procrastination

Watch Craig explain how mindfulness meditation can help to reduce procrastination and increase engagement.
CRAIG HASSED: Procrastination is another thing that dogs us all at one time or another. Or sometimes, it can dog the whole of our life. There’s something that we need to get on with, but the mind wants to do something else. It wants to think about something else. It immediately finds something else to do. But it’s a kind of lack of engagement. It’s a kind of ignoring what we know needs our attention. So procrastination is a kind of avoidance. So something needs our attention, but it’s not getting it. Now, there is a difference between knowing when to take a break.
For example, we’ve been working hard, and we notice all of a sudden, the brain is getting fatigued or we’re just realising it’s time to get some sleep. That’s not avoidance. That’s just recognising that enough is enough. But avoidance and procrastination is something different, because if we recognise, now, it’s time to stop, it’s time for some sleep. We get a good night’s sleep. We don’t go short on our sleep. And we get up the next day, and we’re ready to get on with things. So I actually feel better for it. But when it’s avoidance or procrastination, we’re not taking a break because we need it. We’re taking it because the mind’s resisting engagement with it.
And at the end of a good night’s avoidance or a procrastination, we don’t feel clear and unburdened. We actually feel more preoccupied than before. We feel more behind than we were before. And that’s not a really satisfying thing. And so we do need to recognise the difference between those two things when the mind’s not engaging because it doesn’t want to, when it needs to– and the need and the want are two quite different things here– compared to those times when we really do need to know when to stop. So oftentimes, when we get caught in procrastination, we’ll notice a lot of default mental activity. What can be very helpful at that time is to short-circuit it.
It could be that we decide to go for a mindful walk. It could be just deciding– and it doesn’t have to be a long walk. Or it could be deciding to do something else in a mindful way. It could be that we decide to sit down and practise five minutes of mindfulness meditation and just let our thoughts about the task come and go, not having to get involved with it, just sort of sitting back for a moment and just, as it were, resetting. And just at the end of that five minutes, just gently open the eyes, and just gently engage the attention with whatever it is that needs our attention.
So that can be a great way through the formal practice of mindfulness meditation or the informal practice of just doing something brief, but doing it mindfully for a few minutes can help us to get out of that cycle of avoidance and procrastination.

Watch Craig explain how mindfulness meditation can help to reduce procrastination and increase engagement.

You may also be interested in more tips for overcoming procrastination, which are available from the Downloads section of this step. We hope you find them useful.

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