By Adam Smith
“In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”– Theodore Roosevelt
Today we are going on a journey of discovery. We will find out how we can turn procrastination into something controllable rather than it controlling us.
What Is Procrastination?
Procrastination is the human condition that gets in the way of getting the things we want to be done. There’s always this niggling voice that tries to show us a different path. An easier path that accumulates in lost time doing nothing of value or purpose. For me, it’s whenever I need to do anything of substance at home.
My procrastination will let me know about the next episode of Game Of Thrones I need to watch. The next stage of Red Dead Redemption I need to complete. Don’t get me wrong there’s a lot of fun to be had with anything entertainment. Deep down I know this is not going to get me to my end goal. Procrastination sole purpose is to put you off doing anything challenging and keep you as comfortable as possible.
Maybe it’s because of human existence has been a real challenge to survive. So to keep us safe our mind keeps us comfortable to stay away from danger (OPINION ALERT)
Why Do We Procrastinate?
In essence, the reason why we procrastinate is because of boredom, anxiety, insecurity, frustration, resentment, self-doubt and beyond. These emotions derail us from completing anything quickly. For example, a task might be the most challenging thing you have ever done. You might even question your ability to get the job done. These emotions stop us from succeeding and when procrastination sets in. Progression halts to a sudden STOP!
You and I know whenever we have been faced with procrastination. When we get past the short trem pain of doing a task. Our emotions change to enjoying what we was trying to put off in the first place.
In a 2013 study, Dr. Pychyl and Dr. Sirois they to found this to be the case and concluded that procrastination. Is, in fact, a short term problem not a long term one. So this means we don’t have to go through many traps doors to escape procrastination. We just need to get past the first one and we are free.
Of course, it’s a lot easier in theory. Especially when you have to get past that amazing short term feeling your body releases when you do procrastinate.
So below are some of the techniques that have allowed me to change my habits with procrastination. Even writing this blog post today.
How To Overcome Procrastination
Focus On One Task At A Time
What’s helped me to simplify everything I do recently is to focus on doing 1 thing at a time. What can hold me back from doing tasks immediately is the amount of task I have to do.
So the night before I plan my list in order of difficulty. I then focus one task at a time. That means if nothing else gets done because I’m focussing on this that’s OK. By knowing how long the task will take. I can trick it to believing it’s just this one task I’m doing. Then I repeat it for the next task. Also making sure you pick your most difficult task first is a must. This is because when you start anything your mind is a lot stronger to overcome the more difficult task first.
Just like how you feel more awake in the day and more tired towards the end before bed.
Make It Super Easy To Start
What procrastination hates the most is anything difficult. Especially when you have to write a 1000 word blog post or having to write just 2400 words for course work for your degree. The latter was an enormous struggle in my first and second year at university. My choices where Call of Duty, night out or do my course work. The first two always won. I looked at the project in its entirety not what I had to do first.
What allowed me to achieve the grades I got was handing in my work first. Then getting it reviewed and checked again until it was at a great standard. I did this by saying to myself every morning and evening I just need to write 100 words. Yes, just those simple words allowed my brain to relax and get started. From there I could write for hours as it allowed me to get into my writing zone. This trick has allowed me to start writing my blog post and achieving many other goals. It changed my life.
Plan It The Night Before
A great way to get yourself ready to fight through procrastination is to plan your day the night before. This allows your subconscious mind when sleeping to plan out your day for you. It expects your goals to happen and allows you to easily flow into the task. For instance, if I want to get up at a certain time and not have to hit snooze. I set a specific time I want to get up. (also an alarm away from my reach and go from there.) The amount of times my brain has woke me up 5 minutes before my alarm has gone off. I can’t remember any more. This technique allows me to work as one with my brain, not against it.
When it came to applying new habits there was always something a lot easier to do like playing video games. This was, of course, a habit too. When I decided I needed to change some of my working habits. I applied a visual habit tracker that I could see every morning upon awakening. This helped me stay aware of what I needed to do and by having ticked off the days. It also allowed me to become more action orientated. It held me accountable to the task and killed off all procrastination.
Following on from my last point about being held accountable. This is the pressure that can make or break you. Depending on how you look at it. I find when I’m held to account to something. I always deliver and think that’s the case for everyone if they believe what there doing. When humans backs are against the wall we have a great ability to be able to find our way through the most difficult of challenges. So when I tell people about my habit trackers for the month. They’re always there to check up on me. One thing you don’t want to do is let people down who believe in you. So this helps a great deal.
Emotionally Stimulate the short and long term feeling
What can break your procrastination quickly is your emotions towards any challenge or task you have to face. When you want to do anything that you are truly passionate about and enjoy. There are no barriers that can hold you back. So when it comes to anything difficult or challenging you to have to face them.
You have to learn to visualise and feel a great emotion of doing and completing the task. For instance when I had to public speak in front of a thousand people. I was petrified but I just imagined positive emotions of the experience. It allowed me to follow through and complete it. Our emotions are a powerful force we can use them for our detriments or our future success. You have the power.
These 6 techniques have allowed me to get through life at a forward directory, not a stationary one. It’s a daily challenge. Over time these techniques become habits I don’t think about but they allow me to fight off procrastination daily.
Also to help fight off procrastination have things throughout your day that you plan your downtime. This can be with your family, your favourite sport or TV show. Just don’t let comfortability take advantage of you, you take advantage of it.
You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.
— Benjamin Franklin
Do you have any techniques to fight off procrastination? What emotion gets the better of you? Has this post helped you at all?
I would love to know!
Change your mindset, Change your future.