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Joey Klein, Inner Matrix Systems CEO, on Six Common Procrastination Triggers to Avoid

man leaning on wall while looking down wearing eyeglasses and necklace with right hand on chinProcrastination can get the best of us sometimes. Often, when we have to complete an unpleasant task or something we are not good at, we put it off until the last possible minute. This can cause increased anxiety, feelings of doubt, relationship stress, and affect our work performance. In this article, Joey Klein, Inner Matrix Systems CEO, examines six common reasons people procrastinate what they should be doing and some strategies to help combat these triggers.

1. Ambiguity

Knowing why a task is essential is a critical factor in being motivated to get it done. Don’t just focus on the task at hand, especially when it’s one you know you often procrastinate. Name the outcomes in both directions of completing or not completing the job. Provide clarity by telling yourself what good things will happen if you finish the task and possible adverse outcomes if you don’t. Getting inside the emotions of completing the task will help you to align with getting it done and enjoying the process.

Let’s say the job is cleaning the kitchen. Possible outcomes from cleaning the kitchen could be creating an inviting place for your family and friends to hang out, a sense of accomplishment in keeping a clean kitchen, and perhaps even providing a welcoming environment for your family.

It’s also important to name the outcomes that are possible if you DON’T complete the task. Using the cleaning the kitchen example, possible effects could include a loss of self-esteem and missing out on connection and social time because your friends and family won’t want to hang out in a dirty kitchen.

2. Difficult Tasks

Let’s face it; no one likes to complete a difficult task. We are hardwired to avoid difficulty and gravitate toward things that are easier to achieve. Two good strategies for completing complex tasks are breaking a large job into small bite-sized pieces and making a game of the work. Breaking a large task into smaller pieces and spreading the work out over time makes it much more palatable and seem less daunting.

3. Preoccupation with Pleasant Thoughts

Our minds enjoy being filled with pleasant thoughts and ideas. A common cause of procrastination stems from our hesitancy to push aside comforting thoughts in favor of the mundane. One strategy for combating preoccupation is the 10-minute rule. Commit to working on the mundane task as hard as you can for ten minutes. When you reevaluate after that period, you may find yourself wanting to stick with it even longer. You might then reward your efforts with an allotment of time to relax and consider thoughts and ideas you find more interesting.

4. Boredom

Sometimes it is sheer boredom that prevents us from getting around to tasks we do not find exciting. To overcome boredom procrastination, discipline yourself to stick to a schedule. Put those crucial tasks on your calendar and commit to getting them done at the proposed time. Use a calendaring book or software and schedule the tasks you like the least to get done first. If you exercise enough discipline to get those problematic tasks done, your day will become easier as you go.

5. Decision Fatigue

Have you ever felt like you just can’t make one more decision? This feeling is commonly at the heart of a procrastination problem. Especially when you are unsure of yourself, making decisions can be exhausting. Try making difficult decisions before they need to be made. If you sit down when you are fresh of mind and body and pre-make the decisions you are likely to face that day, it will become easier to execute the already made decisions.

6. Emotional Distress

Our emotions are at the root of procrastination or any other “bad habit.” The next time you find yourself procrastinating, notice what emotion you are experiencing. Do you feel angry, overwhelmed, or anxious? Next, note what you do instead of the task you are putting off. Do you watch TV or perform some other more appealing task? In most cases, you will find that you turn away from an unpleasant task and turn toward something that makes you feel better or directly addresses the emotion you are experiencing.

About Inner Matrix Systems

Inner Matrix Systems, based in Denver, is a personal mastery training system for high achievers. For more than twenty years, IMS has delivered a proprietary methodology that rewires, trains, and aligns the nervous system, emotions, and thought strategies to create real-life results. CEO, Joey Klein, and IMS have worked with more than 80,000 individuals from around the world through both live and online training programs, as well as one-on-one coaching. Clients have included: Boeing, IBM, Dell, Google, Panda Express, Coca Cola and The World Health Organization. Joey is the author of The Inner Matrix: Leveraging the Art & Science of Personal Mastery to Create Real Life Results (June 2021).