How to Use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques to Reduce Procrastination

Posted on May 9, 2015 by Jenna I

Businesswoman relaxing at desk

Is procrastination hurting your productivity? Sometimes, when writing web content, the hardest part can be just getting started. And sometimes you need to get a little creative with your tactics. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy which, at least in part, focuses on avoiding negative patterns of behavior and thought for a generally healthier outlook. While it’s usually used to treat anxiety and depression, it can also be used as a way to avoid other harmful habits — such as procrastination.

Correct Your Thought Patterns

Try not to dwell on the negative aspects of your work. It’s important to correct yourself while in the moment — not afterwards. Throughout the day, you might catch yourself thinking something like “I really don’t want to do this” or “I hate working on this project.” Try your best to change up these thoughts: “If I get through this now, I can finish work early.” Negative patterns of thought will only reinforce themselves over time, ultimately leading you to associate the process of work with negative feelings. Negative thoughts will keep recurring because they become a habit. You can only stop them by breaking that habit.

Break Things Into Smaller Steps

If you aren’t ready to really throw yourself into your work, just start by creating an outline and breaking your work into manageable portions. It’s often much easier to take things step by step. You can overwhelm yourself by trying to take on too much at one time, and the feeling of being overwhelmed may affect the way that you view your work. Sometimes just getting started is enough to build up the momentum that you need and to break down any lingering misgivings.

Reward Yourself for Positive Steps

Avoid completing your “reward” activities – like watching TV – before you’ve finished your work. Instead, reward yourself when you’ve actually completed a job, or at least part of your job. The goal is that eventually you’ll associate the completion work with these positive activities, and hence you’ll see completing work as a positive activity in itself.

Concentrate on the Positive

At its most basic, cognitive behavioral therapy is about concentrating on positive rather than negative emotions and thoughts. At the end of each day, run down all of the positive work-related events that you experienced, rather than dwelling on anything negative. Did a client give you a glowing review? Did you land a big new account? Consider keeping a journal of your positive thoughts and reflections and rereading them when you’re feeling discouraged.

People procrastinate for different reasons, but many individuals have simply gotten into the habit of procrastinating. Procrastination can be its own reward: if you avoid work through leisure activities, you’re telling your brain that procrastination is a good thing. It’s only by changing your habits and thought patterns that you can increase your productivity and reduce any work-related stress and anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy can also be used to reduce work-related stress, though for more serious issues it should be used under the guidance of a therapist.

Jenna I is a tech-focused content writer, programmer and general wanderer. She lives in a soft, continuous rain of dogs.


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