noun: the action of delaying or postponing something
Almost everyone procrastinates at some point or in some areas of their life. Of course – we are all different – we face different situations and have different reactions to them. But there’s a thin line between occasional reluctance and having a problem with proceeding any further. The later may set you on an emotional spiral of self-doubt and shame.
Speaking about situations. There are the ones that are about deadlines – we have to write a paper, finish up the yearly taxes, or our project is due in 2 weeks. But there are also ones without an official deadline date. Us taking care of our health, working on our relationship, trying to find out what we want in life etc.
Somehow the deadline makes everything a bit easier because the majority of people out there usually get it together sooner or later. Because they have to. Otherwise, there are consequences. The deadline is the end of some sort, and after that finish line – the tension decreases and one can proceed to other challenges. With the lesson learnt. Or not.
The ‘non-deadline’ situations are much more tricky. Sometimes people struggle throughout their lifetime wanting to change something. And those can be dramatic stories. Often ending up with anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, all sorts of psychosomatic symptoms.
Of course, the goal of this article isn’t and can’t be – to heal people. But if at least one person will use any of those tips and thoughts on procrastination – I’ll have succeeded ❤
Gathered below you’ll find some summaries grouped into REASONS, TIPS, FOLLOW UP TIP. Go ahead and give it a read:
So why do we procrastinate? The most common REASONS are:
- Out of fear /of the unknown /that the end product of your work will not be perfect. In most cases, it really only has to be good enough, but this concept isn’t finding acceptance from many.
- You expect the project to require a lot from you. You just know it’ll be pure hard work and you try to escape this.
- You are unclear about how to start,
- You don’t have your priorities straight. If you’re building your own company – you can forget about Netflix for a while. Your leisure in the amounts you’re used to will have to wait. First things first – because that’s how it’s done. If you’re in doubt – listen to Garry Vaynerchuk or Grant Cardone.
- You easily get distracted (social media, other people, your own thoughts)
- You choose to do the simple chores/tasks. Because it’s so easy. But in fact, it’s just another form of avoiding the main/most problematic task.
- You lack motivation. Because you don’t really want to do it, because you don’t have your priorities straight, but also due to stress, fatigue, or previous unsuccessful experiences with this task.
- you decided to do too much too soon and very quickly you get overwhelmed and discouraged, unable to do much more.
graphic by chibird.tumblr.com
Willpower doesn’t work. But the systems do.
10+ tips on how to help yourself when you know you procrastinate.
what you may want to do intellectually:
- Know yourself and your priorities – that’s BASIC. You have to know:
- Your goals – what you want to achieve – whether it is to finish school, to be rich and famous;), to build a house or anything else. You have to know where you’re headed.
- The purpose of the work/task. As long as you can connect it to your goal – you’re golden.
- Time at which you’re most productive. (You may be the one working best in the morning, or rather at night). And finally
- Methods that work for you.
what you may want do to help yourself with the actual work – TIPS:
- JUST SHOW UP. I’d argue – this one is the most important of them all. It has a lot in common with the 5 second rule actually:) You just have to show up. You don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to finish up, you don’t have to excel in everything everytime. But if you do show up you have started – everything already seems easier now, doesn’t it?
- how to eat an elephant? – I really love this epic question and an even better answer to it. “How to eat an elephant”? You usually get – “it can’t be done, it’s too big, its skin is too thick, I don’t have all the necessary tools” and so on and so on. All valid responses, but there’s one that’s symbolic and can be use as an understanding to what I’m trying to say here. “It’s easy. One bite at a time.” That’s it. Baby steps. You don’t have to do it all at once. If you are to write a book – how about starting with one page? If you are to declutter your home – how about to start with that one drawer? One bite at a time! ❤
- LISTS. Everyone knows them right? And we should do them – by all means. Spend 5 minutes each evening and plan the next day. Spend another 20 minutes weekly and plan your week or further. It’ll help enormously! Just remember most procrastinations love their lists. They sound so easy and doable. Coming up with the list is not the problem. Sticking with it is;) Also, there’s even more to the lists than most people think. Amazing facts about our brains might be of use here. You’ve probably heard about phenomena called self-fulfilling prophecy. It may happen with our planning as well. If you haven’t done everything as scheduled – you might start being discouraged. It’s not a catastrophe if it happened once. But if it’s a regular thing, you start to be convinced there’s something wrong with you. If, on the other hand, you’re able to see the list of the things you actually have done this day or this week… now that’s a different story. You may be a stay-at-home parent, who didn’t manage to clean the whole house and bake some more of that fresh bread everyone loves. But you made 3 laundries, did some shopping, played with your kids, sent out some invitations, answered some emails and so on and so on. You’d be surprised how much credit you DON’T give yourself. So why not consider actually WRITING DOWN what you did that day.
- 2 minutes rule. If it takes you 2 minutes – do it now – not tomorrow, not in June – now – immediately. When you’ve eaten, put the plate in the dishwasher – not in the sink – you’re saving yourself some time later on. When you undress get your clothes to the laundry/to the closet – not on the floor or that awesome armchair of yours! 😉 It’s all the little things. If you don’t let them pile up – you’ll be amazed to notice how much it relieves you of all the stress.
- The frog rule. Mark Twain said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Ain’t that true. The sooner the better. First – start, then you’re done with it.
- Pomodoro technique. It is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. It works great until you successfully create a new HABIT. You may use the original Pomodoro, or Forest apps – they are based on the same concept, but Forrest also has an environmental component (the more time you spend focused, the more points you gain. After you reach a certain number of points – the guys from Forest actually plant a real tree for you – in real life). Here’s how it works with the original:
-here you have the FOREST app for Mac OS
- 5 seconds rule – If you have an actual idea to do the thing you know is on your list anyway – you have 5 seconds to make it work. Otherwise your procrastinating brain is gonna flip on you and start making excuses. You start thinking it wasn’t such a good idea after all.
- choose to love failure and success, equally. We all fail from time to time. That’s how the game is played. No denying. If you try (to deny) – you’re on your way to procrastinate – because you go straight to the perfectionists’ team. If, on the other hand, you’ll treat the failures as valuable lessons of how to perform better, how to prepare better – you’re on your way to succeeding more.
- know that the difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do. It’s simple as that. You can talk for hours on end about how you’ll one day make it. How your business will bloom, what amazing parent you’ll be. One day. In the meantime – it’s just not happening. Less words – more action.
- ask for help with something especially challenging, nobody said you had to to it yourself – all the way. And yes – support is help too 🙂
- come up with a small prize for yourself – because why not? It’s all in the brain. I’m not encouraging you to get a designer bag every time you do your laundry or write a page. I’m merely suggesting to recognize what you’re doing. Just a bit. Doesn’t matter if it’s a phone call with a friend or an episode of your fav show – might be worth your while. (As long of course as those prizes don’t take up more of your time than the actual work you’re doing;)
- meditate regularly – or maybe even right before you start working? (I’ll be posting an article about meditation real soon:) )
How to stay on top of your game?
Now that you have all those tips you probably know that using them once or twice won’t change much. You need to START USING them – and only that will FORM A HABIT. Then and only then will you be able to improve your productivity and relieve some of that stress. But that’s not everything. Our brains are getting bored easily. We need to refresh our knowledge, our skills, otherwise, the same old schemes will bore us and eventually we might fall off the wagon. The best way to do this – to keep that brain of ours interested – is:
- to stay inspired – watch ted talks, read books and blogs, know who your inspiring people are and stick to them.
Speaking of staying inspired – there’s this person – Tim Urban – you may wanna see his TED talk:)
I also wanted to write a paragraph about the Originals. But it turned out it’s already been way over 2000 words with this one. It’s gonna have to happen next time. 🙂 I’ll write about the people that are different than all the others and what’s that got to do with creativity and procrastination.
Are you a procrastinator? Did you find anything interesting here? Maybe you have some other useful tip I didn’t mention – do tell – let the others learn from you ❤