8 tricks we play on ourselves to avoid doing something


We can be such clever devils when it comes to delay tactics — so clever that we may not even know we’re doing it. Here, we lift the curtain on the high art of avoiding.

1. Prioritizing. This is a helpful tool for the efficient-minded. It’s also an easy avoidance mechanism. All we have to do is keep pushing the unsavory to-do to the bottom of our list, regardless of its importance.

2. Talking about it. It takes a little while to catch onto this trick because we’re so vocal about our intentions. We chat up others about our plans. We envision and share the success of having done it…but for all our posturing, we don’t actually take action.

3. Thinking no one will care or notice. This belief lets us justify inactivity. “What does it matter?” we say. “I’m the only one who will know it got done.”

4. Multitasking. When we’re juggling five, 10, even 25 things at the same time, we can use multitasking as an excuse to sidestep the undesirable — there’s always something else to do, see, check on, talk about.

5. It’s never been done before. The blueprint hasn’t been drawn and there’s nothing to measure up against, so our mind puts on the brakes because we’re going to have think in a different, possibly uncomfortable, way.

6. Sleeping too little, too often. Inadequate shut-eye makes our world look worse. A 20-minute walk seems like an hour. Getting the kids up becomes a feat for Ellen Ripley in “Aliens.” Just imagine how your tired self responds to a task you’d rather not do on your most energetic day.

7. Things never work out. We’ve had a string of non-successes and our confidence pendulum is on the down swing. That’s when the defeatist voice in our head starts asking, “Why bother?”

8. Situation imperfect. It’s too noisy. Too humid. Too crowded. Too depressing. Just fill in the blank, because there’s always a reason the circumstances aren’t right for getting started.

Stop Your Procrastination Tip CardsWhat’s stopping you right now?

Attack your delay tactics in the moment with Unstuck’s Stop Your Procrastination Tip Cards, which address 10 of the most common excuses we tell ourselves.
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