Delays of all kinds—rain, travel, timeouts—are a fact of life in sports. But procrastination is one delay that you can prevent and control.
Below are some proactive ways to prevent procrastinating behavior around training, goal-setting and in your everyday life.
Write a Daily or Weekly “Game Plan” Checklist
Writing down important daily or weekly responsibilities and keeping a handy checklist counteracts procrastination. Highlight what should be done first, second, third, etc., each day or week.
It’s typical to make a New Year’s resolution to regularly exercise but eventually fall into the procrastination trap with excuses to stop working out. Fear may play into this—more precisely, fear of the unknown, especially when you venture into a new area without knowing how well you’ll do.
Keep in mind: “He who hesitates is lost.” Seize opportunities without intimidation!
Distinguish Urgent from Trivial Tasks
The ability to differentiate between performing essential (and possibly urgent) items versus insignificant ones offsets procrastination. For instance, improving sports skills, showing up for a conditioning workout or rehabbing in the trainer’s room before tomorrow’s big game should all take precedence over seeing a movie with friends after school.
Perhaps the opposite of procrastination is being proactive. Proactive individuals take control rather than wait until it’s too late. Examples: Not asking a hitting coach before games questions about the opposing pitcher and then being baffled when batting; or, forgetting to get a teacher’s input about an assignment that’s nearly due, resulting in a lower grade.
Think about when a team is behind but has a chance to win in the closing minutes. Instead of effectively using the time remaining, the team is lackadaisical, wastes precious seconds, and loses. Similarly, mishandling time during daily activities often sets you behind and forces you to play catch-up the rest of the day.
Having Too Much On Your Plate
Realize there are only 24 hours a day and be realistic about managing overwhelming (and exhausting) commitments. Professor Susan Krauss Whitbourne suggests: “If you delay in making decisions, give yourself timelines. Then ease yourself into them so you don’t set unrealistic targets, but set achievable ones that help you perform more efficiently.”
In other words, if it justifies readjusting your schedule to stay afloat to attain other objectives, do it. And use it as a learning experience to never overload your plate again! Professor Whitbourne adds: “Prioritizing is one of the best ways to avoid procrastination, but if you’ve got your priorities reversed, reward yourself for completing important (but difficult) tasks when you get them done on time.”
Setting and Following a Goal
Setting a goal—whether it’s adding size in the offseason, perfecting a sports skill or acing all your exams next semester—allows zero room for procrastinating. The goal should be written and accentuated without deviating to ultimately achieve it. And perhaps the best advice: “Don’t let the thought that a task is too insurmountable keep you from ever starting it. When you have a lot of work to do, break it down into manageable chunks,” Professor Whitbourne says.
1, 4, 5, 6 Psychology Today (November 12, 2016). “12 Ways to Beat Procrastination” by Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D.
2, 3 Brown University Counseling and Psychological Services Department Newsletter Article: “Overcoming Procrastination.” (January 2017).