The Secret to Ending Procrastination? Keep Your Pajamas On

 girl sitting on bed smiling at cameraVinyasa yoga, integral yoga, yin yoga, restorative yoga, chair yoga, yoga therapy—I love them all, but pajama yoga is what I do in the morning. Pajama yoga is yoga plus—a secret weapon to eliminate procrastination. Or maybe it’s a healthy way to procrastinate yourself into what you know you really should be doing.

I start most mornings with pajama yoga. That means stretching, twisting, restorative poses while I’m still in bed. Later, after I get up, still in my pajamas, I get more vigorous to wake myself up and do a few sun salutations. Later still, I meditate. If I’m writing or studying, that comes next. After that, I go to work, and later, three times a week, I take a vinyasa class at my neighborhood studio. I wake up around 6 a.m. No alarm clock. I sleep well and I wake up rested.

Busy morning, no? I’ve learned that if something is important to me, I’d better do it right away; I try not to let myself have the time to reconsider and procrastinate. My system works because I trick myself. I get busy before I’m awake enough to know any better. That is, while I’m still half asleep and haven’t figured out my excuses—I’m not in the mood, I’m too tired, I’m simply too busy with other stuff, I can always do it later …

I sneak away from the mañana syndrome because I know that if I tell myself I’ll do it tomorrow, it will never get done. Sound compulsive? Perhaps. But it works. It’s a way to create healthy habits. Also, I think it takes more energy to put things off than to just do them. Do them now.

Of course, I’m the world’s biggest procrastinator, but one with a secret. I have a calendar, I write stuff down (right away, so I don’t forget), and then I figure out how to do what when. I’ve learned how to plan.

Planning is a component of self-regulation. Self-regulation helps people pay attention to self-care and the myriad things that are a part of life. I go to sleep when I’m tired, for example, rather than forcing myself to stay awake because I’m having a good time and I don’t want the party to stop.

What is the difference between spontaneity and impulsivity? Spontaneity is joyful and takes into account the effects of free-spirited actions. Impulsivity is just doing whatever you feel like, full speed ahead, darn the torpedoes, and darn anybody or anything that gets in the way. Impulsive means not accepting or even thinking about the consequences of your actions or your inaction. Spontaneity holds your whole life in mind and protects yourself and your loved ones.

So why are some people spontaneous and others impulsive? Naomi Friedman and her graduate student Daniel Gustavson show in their article, Genetic Relations Among Procrastination, Impulsivity, and Goal-Management Ability, published in Psychological Science, that procrastination, impulsivity, and goal-directed behaviors are genetically determined. So maybe I can thank my parents.

I think I have sneaky plan-maker genes too, if there are such things. I’ve found a way to get around procrastination by breaking up my tasks into small bites and making them appealing. I wake up. Stretch. Twist. Find a comfortable pose and hold it. Bit by bit, I get out of bed and do what’s next. That’s not too shabby a way to wake up, and I do it all while I’m still wearing my pajamas. (And my pajamas aren’t shabby, either.)

My no-longer-secret method:

  1. Establish healthy practices of self-care.
  2. Know the consequences of your actions and your inactions.
  3. Get busy right away.
  4. Self-regulate.
  5. Eliminate temptation.
  6. Plan.
  7. Break the big tasks into small bites.
  8. Reward yourself when you deserve it.
  9. Have a sense of humor.
  10. Wear attractive pajamas.

© Copyright 2014 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Lynn Somerstein, PhD, NCPsyA, C-IAYT, therapist in New York City, New York

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Afton

    Afton

    November 26th, 2014 at 2:22 PM

    uh uh this is so not me! If I keep the jammies on all day then I am going to do what jammies call for doing best- being lazy! If I have any hopes of getting anything done, even days when I want to work around the house I have to get up and hit the floor running. The other great thing that works for me with this kind of plan is that by the time noon lets say rolls around, I am finished with all of the big things that I needed to get done and I can just sit back and chill for the rest of the day. That to me is the true ideal.

  • Alexa

    Alexa

    November 26th, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    I love to make to do lists so that I can visually see all the things that I need to accomplish as well as it brings me some pleasure marking things off as I go. Again just a visual that there is light at the end of the tunnel!

  • Joseph

    Joseph

    November 27th, 2014 at 8:13 AM

    Well I am a procrastinator but find that I do my best work under those time pressures. That’s why I have never been all that anxious to change. I think that it is more annoying for the people around me than it is for me.

  • Tola

    Tola

    November 27th, 2014 at 1:28 PM

    If I have plan making genes then I must have gotten a recessive gene from my mom and dad because they are not planners whereas I am to the Nth degree.
    I want to know what I am doing and what I am going to be doing at any given point in the day.
    they are such free spirited thinkers that this kind of planning could really cramp their style.
    Sometimes I wonder if we are even related

  • Mandy

    Mandy

    November 28th, 2014 at 8:50 AM

    Oh goodness yes if I leave things til the end of the day you might as well forget it- I will never get it finished!

  • Lila

    Lila

    November 28th, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    I agree that much of this is simply about creating habits that you can stick with.

  • nicole

    nicole

    November 29th, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    Why put off until tomorrow that which can be done today? Paraphrased I am sure but still a pretty good standard to live by.

  • Lynn Somerstein

    Lynn Somerstein

    November 29th, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    Well, clearly none of you procrastinated about posting their thoughts and feelings about procrastination, and how not to! Thanks!!
    Take care, Happy Thanksgiving weekend,
    Lynn

  • Susan

    Susan

    November 30th, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    Any kind of morning exercise is generally a pretty good motivator for me, but what makes it even more motivational is when I make plans with a friend to meet or go for a walk or something.

    It is pretty easy for me to break plans with myself but when I have another person or other people involved then it is not so easy to change those plans.

    Then if I do it in the morning it is an added bonus mainly because that gets me pretty motivated to get the rest of my day under way and something beneficial accomplished!

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