Procrastination! I´m guilty of it as most of you reading this post as well. The saying that the time enjoyed wasting isn´t wasted time doesn´t help. That goes even more when you just found a new hobby like going hiking, swimming or anything else that asks for a lot of your time. The procrastionation comes slowly but steadily and manifests itself in our habits and that could be damaging for our goals in the long run.
The defintion of procrastination
…. or procrastination in a sentence, is the act of delaying or putting off tasks until the last minute or in the worst case, the past teven beyond a deadline. Some researchers define procrastination as a “form of self-regulation failure characterized by the irrational delay of tasks despite potentially negative consequences.”
No matter how well-organized and committed you are, chances are that you have found yourself distracted sometimes. That could be triggered by various things like the following procrastination examples:
- A new episode of your favorite TV series
- Updating your Facebook status
- A far too long phone call
- Shopping online
- Checking the status on Social Media
- Reading some news that just popped up
- You simply lose interest by „not feeling it“
Whether you’re putting off finishing a your work, avoiding homework assignments, or ignoring household chores, procrastination can have a major impact on your job and your daily life.
In most cases, procrastination is not a sign of a serious problem. It’s a common tendency that most people give in to at some point or another. It´s a bad habit but one that could be taken care of.
So what procrastination means is if you wait until you’re in the right frame of mind to do certain tasks, you will probably find that the right time never comes. That leads to the conclusion, if the time never comes, the task will never be finished as well.
Why do we procrastinate?
Is it as simple as doing the procrastination opposite? And if yes, what exactly is the opposite? I did some research and there is no common answer. Mostly „anticipation“ is used as the opposite. While awaiting something is not exactly „putting something off“ it still might be the closest we can get.
Whatever it is, you need to figure out for yourself why you are procrastinating. Is a specific task too boring, too darring, too exhausting or simply too annoying? You might need to change your perspective and find a way to make the task at least half- enjoyable.
Bad organization can lead to procrastination as well. Maybe you just rearrange some working steps and things become easier. You can try to use To-Do Lists to create effective schedules. Those can help you to organize your tasks by priority and deadline.
Another major cause of procrastination is poor decision-making. If you can’t decide what to do, you’ll likely put off taking action in case you do the wrong thing.
Decision making is a thing of habit and you need to actively create it. Think of your decision making skills as some you need to train, like a muscle. Start to practise your decision making progress by quickly decide of minor things. Like if you went up in the morning, what do you wanna have for breakfast? Decide fast for tea or coffee, for a piece of cake or some cereals. Do it fast and stick to it. A fast made decision is better than none.
While that sounds somehow ridiculous it forms a habit of fast decision making and when you are more secure with small decision, bigger will easier as well.
5 ways to how to stop procrastination
There are a variety of strategies we can employ to stop procrastinating, however the 5 following seemed to me the easiest to apply. You can use one or a combination of 2 or 3, whatever works best for you.
If you have another one, please tell us in the comments! One thing is for certain thought, to overcome procrastination you need to have a plan and and a method.
Method 1 – Reward yourself for progress
Split up your tasks in many tiny steps and reward yourself with something you enjoy after successfully completing a half-step or quarter-step. For example, if you need to clean your apartment, start by dusting off the cupboards and than take a break and enjoy a cup of coffee. Next step is to vaccuum the floor. Afer that is done, you might enjoy a sandwich. Maybe mopping the floor is next and after finishing that, the first room is already done you reward yourself with a walk in nature or do something else you enjoy. Just limit the time of your leisure and come back. Use a clock to make you accountable. If you are done wiuth the first room, start with the second using the same method.
The idea is to show gratititude to yourself and provide you with a feeling of accomplishment. It lifts up the mood and the task go easier from the hand.
You can apply that strategy to almost every task that can be seperated in tinier steps. Just use your imagination to take apart the task and think of something that you can award yourself that doesn´t needs much time to consume.
Method 2 – Make yourself accountable with consequences of procrastination
This one is based on the previous one. Just as as disclaimer, there is no need to pack out the whip or spank yourself but maybe you can use a procrastination glass, comparable to someone elses swear glass. Everytime you miss a deadline or sense an act of procrastination you put 5.- into the glass.
In case you fulfilled a task successfully in the right time and didn´t postpone anything, you can take out 10.- and buy something nice from it. That installs a feeling of appreciation of having finished a task and rewards you with whatever you want to have and makes you feel good.
Lets have an example: If you scheduled to wor out with a friend at 5 p.m. On saturday, but you skip it, you need to pay. It needs to be an amount that „hurts“ you in the long run, so you need to adjust it to your income situation. If you stick to it, maybe a burger could be a reward. Beside the financial pain, what do you think will your friend think of you if you skip the training? Would he/she think of you as a person of its word or of an unreliable jerk?
Method 3 – Plan everything and stick to it
It might be a dauning task to plan almost everything in your life, but it will help you keep track of your duties and what you postpone most. This method will support you spotting tasks you always postpone almost like out of a habit. Knowing such habits and acknowledging them is the first step towards change.
Your daily plan should involve a combination of anti-procrastination techniques, like checking your schedule from time to time or sit back and write down what you already accomplished. This will allow you to focus on things and situations where your procrastination problem is preventing you from achieving your goals.
Make a priorities list or a list with the most annoying tasks and do them first. Having finished the „worst“ of the day, the rest feels far easier and the level of annoyance gets lower every minute.
You need to focus on 2 things.First the direct task at hand at this very moment and the final goals and how you would feel after achieving it. Get started on tasks by committing to only work on them for a few minutes could be a way to get started in case you have a serious case of procrastination. The fact that you get started with a plan at all is the most important thing.
Method 4 – Relax and meditate
What a counterintuitive suggestion you might think but hear me out.
Ask yourself: What are your most common thoughts when you procrastinate? Is it something like „I´ll do it later“ or „It´s gonna be a daunting task“? What you do here is negative self-talk at its worst.
If you put yourself in a mindset that a certain task is a bane you will constantly feel bad about even starting it. However, if you take a few minutes, calm your mind and erase all this negative thoughts from your mind, you are able to start anew and without the resistance.
Meditation can work miracles if you give it a serious try. Just a few minutes a day are enough, and it´s even more impactful if you do it before going for a supposedly annoying task.
The calmer mind will reduce the levels of stress you induce yourself on you by constantly thinking about how tiresome the next hours gonna become. You can start with 5-10 minutes in the morning and maybe use a guided meditation at first. There are plenty of them for free on youtube. I bet you´ll see a change as early as within 1-2 weeks.
Method 5 – Work with reminders
If you know about the use of a vision board, you might want to use a procrastination board. for to work on this one.
The point is to put visual cues where you see them as a reminded for you to start a different behavior. Hoping you will simply remember to do a new habit is a path destined to fail. You need to have a sincere will to change.
To support you in your change, it is much easier to stick with good habits when your environment nudges you in the right direction. A picture or a motivational proverb at a prominent place in your apartment can do exactly that.
Visual cues can have an additive effect on motivation. As the visual evidence of your progress mounts, it is natural to become more motivated to continue the habit. Here a great example of how to use that technique for sales.
It comes down to something that simple: The more visual progress you see, the more motivated you will become to finish the task. Constantly seeing your works progress is a fantastic way to trigger your next productive action.
Here are 25 quotes on procrastionation that hopefully motivate you NOT to do it
Procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing a task or set of tasks. It´s the force that prevents you from following through on what you set out to do.
Procrastination can limit your potential and withhold you from your next career steps. it’s crucial to take proactive steps to prevent it.
The first step to overcoming procrastination is to recognize that you’re doing it. Then, identify the reasons behind your behavior and use appropriate strategies to manage and overcome it. I hope this article was useful to you and it inspired you to take the first step towards a non-procrastinating life.
Do not let procrastination preventing you from achieving your goals!
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