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5 Tips to Reduce Procrastination


5 Tips to Reduce Procrastination
  Dec. 22, 2016


Why do people procrastinate? Wouldn’t it be easier to simply address each issue or responsibility as they present in a timely manner. Case and point: Holiday exercise habits. Many people will make New Year’s resolutions to exercise and plan on it well before the Holiday season. But why wait? Why not start immediately and help mediate the additional Holiday pounds? According to scientists the problem lies in the way the brain processes thought. Human brains seem to be programmed for procrastination; it is interesting because it’s an exchange process that generally benefits the body (psychologically, physically or emotionally). Task driven aptitude provides future benefits in return for effort in the present. If you do a little now the benefits later are greater (e.g., regular exercise, saving for retirement). However, most people succumb to distraction and avoidance until the risk of not executing outweighs the benefit of the task or action. Most procrastinators fear discomfort and uncertainty and choose to avoid the discomfort of upcoming tasks that stress them out until there is no other choice but actual engagement. A procrastinator’s mind will unwittingly switch to some other activity, sometimes it is social media or entertainment, in other cases people will simply exchange a comfortable task for one perceived more stressful so, in their mind, they are still being “productive”. The trick to reducing procrastination is to be rational by dealing mindfully with the “uncomfortable” task at hand.

Tips to reduce procrastination:

  • Aggressively commit to the task – make a plan and timeline to completion with specific deadlines – splitting it in parts makes it immediately smaller by perception
  • Attack the fear or discomfort –the more a task intimidates or stresses you the more effort you should put towards completing it
  • Visualize the downsides of inaction - opposing the previous tip; if you find yourself repeatedly putting off the preparation envisioning the potential issues and embarrassment caused by your decision
  • Publicly commit to the task - remember that our brain’s reward system is highly responsive to social standing; most people do not want to look foolish or lazy so make your goals public to increase accountability
  • Make the cost of action and the whole task feel less daunting - tangibly identify the steps, tie a reward to each completed task.

Those who can reduce their propensity for procrastination tend to be the most successful and productive people. Try and take 1-2 steps today toward more proactive engagement of difficult tasks to transcend form a state of perpetual procrastination to active realization.

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