How to beat procrastination
No wonder it is also called self-sabotage. Procrastination is when you intentionally delay an action that you, yourself, have planned. There is hardly anything more counterproductive.
I’m sure you’re familiar with that feeling. For example, you need to write a report. You are planning to get down to it all morning, but instead, you go to pour yourself some tea or start checking messages on your smartphone. The longer you procrastinate, the more guilt and anxiety you feel. Still, it’s as if something is holding you back from getting to the task.
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Procrastination affects all areas of our lives, not just business. For example, you constantly postpone a difficult conversation with a friend, cleaning up your house or learning the skill you need. Why do we procrastinate? I hasten to reassure you: this is not necessarily because you do not have enough willpower or self-discipline. There are other reasons, some of which we got from our distant ancestors.
What causes procrastination
- We hope the problem will disappear
Admit that there is always a chance that a problem will fix itself. How can we be so sure? This certainty comes from the unstable times in which our ancestors lived. Back then the circumstances changed at lightning speed. For example, why keep your commitments to another person, if tomorrow he may die in the hunt?
Therefore, sometimes we procrastinate, expecting that the circumstances will change, the planned task will lose relevance and the problem will disappear.
- The subconscious mind protects us from failure
As you know, not mistaken only one who does not do anything. Sometimes we don’t do anything to avoid mistakes. This is especially true for serious plans, such as starting a business. The brain seems to be whispering: “The chances of success are small, so is it worth trying?” Thus, despite all the attractiveness of the prospects, procrastination prevails.
- People value immediate reward, not delayed
When kids find a few coins on the street, most of them run to the nearest store to buy some candy or a can of soda. Very few will think: “If I save this money, and then save more, I can buy a more expensive and useful thing.” We want to have fun here and now, not later.
So, if a colleague invites you to have some coffee, it is likely that you will choose this option, rather than working on the quarterly report.
How to overcome procrastination
1. Divide the task into parts
The famous saying “Eat the elephant one bite at a time” is a great tip to combat procrastination. For example, in the case of the report, you can start by making one smart chart or writing the first page. Small goals look a lot less intimidating than one big one.
2. Make a to-do list for tomorrow
It’s hard to get down to business when you don’t know what exactly to get down to. So the night before, make a list of all the tasks for the next day. After you write down everything, set priorities – what needs to be done first, second, etc. Underline 3 most important goals. After completing them, you will already feel that you have spent a great day.
3. Avoid unnecessary risks
Sometimes you can’t start your project because it involves a large investment, quitting your job or something equally risky. In that case, choose decisions with low risk. For example, try to open your business with minimal investment and without leaving your main job.
4. Celebrate small victories and reward yourself for intermediate results
For example, you decide to get a second (or the first) higher education. Do not wait for years before graduation to finally tell yourself: “Mission accomplished.” Passing the first exams is already a good reason to throw a party. Reward yourself regularly, and then the brain will not sabotage the performance of daily tasks.
5. Remind yourself about the price of procrastination
Ask yourself: “What will happen if I don’t do it?” Perhaps, the price of procrastination is your damaged reputation or lost revenues. In this case, you will understand that a further delay makes no sense.
6. Relax more often
Sometimes procrastination occurs because you are burned out emotionally. In this case, it is best to switch to another activity, go on a trip, “reboot” your head. If you are not able to go on holiday right now, try to delegate some part of your work.
7. Get rid of distractions
There is always a great temptation to start the day with the weather forecast, horoscope or social networks. Turn off your smartphone at least for a while and create optimal conditions for concentration. To learn how to do it better, I advise you to read my article “Staying focused. How to conquer distractions at work.”
8. Get enough sleep
If you go to bed late and wake up feeling tired, it creates an additional reason for procrastination. So, observe the rule “early to bed, early to rise”. In addition, if you become an early riser, you will have time to accomplish more things in a day.
9. Be aware of what you are doing
This means stopping doing things with your brain on autopilot. Sometimes we automatically start surfing the net and then wonder where the 40 minutes went. To avoid this, ask yourself questions like: “What am I doing now? Does it bring me closer to my goal?” If you learn to control yourself, this is the first step to overcoming procrastination.
Developing a good habit is not easy. But with the right techniques, it is more than possible. If you are determined to overcome procrastination, then start with these simple steps:
- Divide the task into parts
- Make a to-do list for tomorrow
- Avoid unnecessary risks
- Celebrate small victories and reward yourself for intermediate results
- Remind yourself about the price of procrastination
- Relax more often
- Get rid of distractions
- Get enough sleep
- Be aware of what you are doing