How come it’s so easy to put off the things you need to get done? Because your brain is wired to procrastinate! You literally have two minds. There’s the limbic system - the unconscious brain that includes the pleasure centers. It’s what tells you to pull your hand away from a hot flame, and to avoid doing anything unpleasant – like chores. Then there’s the decision-making part of the brain - the prefrontal cortex - the part that literally announces, “I have to sit down and do my taxes!” However, the minute you lose focus, the pleasure center wins – and you procrastinate. So, here’s how to trick yourself into being more productive:
- Do the worst thing first. Everyone has a limited supply of willpower. So, if you do the job you like least when you’re fresh and energetic, you’re more likely to finish it. Also, checking something big off your to-do list will make you feel super-productive.
- Next: Start your day over at 2 pm. There’s nothing more annoying than realizing that the day is half over, and you haven’t even started on your to-do list. So: Do-over! At 2 o’clock, see how much you’ve accomplished. Pick the highest-priority project. Whether it’s something new – or something you should have done that morning – you still have the time and energy to start it then. However, if you wait until 5 o’clock - or later - you’ll be tired and just trying to get through the day.
- The final way to trick your way past procrastination: Set a timer for 10 minutes, and challenge yourself to see how much you can get done before the bell. Stress-management specialist Debbie Mandel says you may get caught up in what you’re doing, and be so pleased by your progress, you’ll end up working longer.