Procrastination is a common problem which we all face in our life at some point or another. Even when we know the importance of finishing the particular tasks on time, despite the fact we procrastinate.
We keep delaying, avoiding, and procrastinating on things and tasks that matter to us.
You may procrastinate on a minor issue that is simply diminishing your productivity, or a major issue that’s avoiding you from achieving your goals.
Surely you would have tried to overcome procrastination on your own and felt that it is really difficult.
Moreover, you may have read many articles on the issue and watched a video or seek advice on the topic. But most of the information is incomplete or scattered that it is not effective or of much help to you.
Here in this “PROCRASTINATION: A PRACTICAL GUIDE ON HOW TO STOP PROCRASTINATING”, I have provided all the practical ways to overcome procrastination.
WHAT IS PROCRASTINATION
Procrastination is an act of delaying or avoiding a task that needs to be accomplished by a certain deadline. In other words, it can be stated as an intentional or habitual delay in initiating or finishing a task despite knowing that it will have negative consequences.
Although it is a very common human behavior in delaying things like paying the bills, submitting the returns, depositing the children’s fees, visiting the dentist or so.
But this habit leads to serious consequences like depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, guilt, etc. in case the procrastination is associated with important tasks.
Like for a student, this habit may result in fewer marks, a problem in admission to good college, unemployment, etc.
“Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday.”– Napoleon Hill
“The really happy people are those who have broken the chains of procrastination, those who find satisfaction in doing the job at hand. They’re full of eagerness, zest, productivity. You can be, too.”– Norman Vincent Peale
“You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.”– Benjamin Franklin
“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”– Abraham Lincoln
CAUSES OF PROCRASTINATION
Every one of us procrastinates in our life at some point or other and there may be various reasons for procrastination. Why we put off or avoid doing something, this is mainly because of two major factors:
Lack of desire
You need to have some driving force or fuel to move forward and here the Desire works. Without desire you will never take any action.
People start procrastinating when there is a lack of desire. For example, If there is no passion for someone in a work he will procrastinate on his work. When a person is forced to do sales and marketing and he has no passion for doing so, he will procrastinate for that work.
There must be some never-ending flow of desire to keep the interest going, this can be done by following the below steps:
- Discover your WHY. Give yourself a valid reason for doing work or task. If you have a strong reason for WHY you will automatically have the desire to do that task.
- Spot implications of non-action. Understand the implications of not doing that task. For example, if you don’t work hard for your career, imagine what you would be doing to earn money in the next 3-5 years. Do you really want to live that miserable life?
- Craft your ideal vision. Create your ideal vision for life. What is that driving force that inspires you from within to take actions?
Fear of unknown.
Fear is something which does not allow you to take any action. With the fear in your mind you are paralyzed and cannot move forward.
Even if you have a desire to do something but have a fear that is stronger than your desire, you will still procrastinate. The fear can be of any type like fear of losing, fear of pain, fear of uncertainty, fear of hardship, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of being alone, etc.
Most of the people don’t dare to take any action because of fear of the unknown. This means that they anticipate that if they take the decision or action what if they fail, what if they lose, what people will react, what people will think and so on.
Examples of fear of the unknown
Let’s understand this with an example if you are stuck in a 9-5 job and want to start a business but you procrastinate due to the fear of failure. There are equal chances of either you get successful or your idea may fail. But if you could understand that if you win you will have a life of your choice and even if you fail you will learn from that experience and take another better step with more planning.
Fear of the unknown is one of the major reason for procrastination and due to this, we all suffer in life.
So the equation is like when desire is less than fear there will be procrastination. And when desire is more than fear, action will take place.
Let’s understand this with another example, there are 30 students in a class out of that if 5 students have the desire to score good grades and with this thought, they will take the action.
On the other hand, there are remaining 25 students they are studying for the sake of getting passed. They don’t have any desire and the tough competition and the work pressure create a fear towards their studies. For them, there is a never-ending pressure and discomfort associated with study. As a result, the students procrastinate on their studies and tedious exams.
HOW TO STOP PROCRASTINATING
One can easily overcome procrastination by using the right techniques. These techniques help you better understand your procrastination problem and then learning how to solve it by applying techniques. This technique helps you identify the thought patterns or behaviors that cause the tendency to procrastinate.
Steps to stop procrastination
1. Set your goals
First, you need to set your goals in order to overcome procrastination. Make sure your goals must be very clear and precise.
There are more chances that you start procrastinating if the goals are vague and ambiguous,
For example, if you set your goal “be more healthy” is a vague goal and difficult to follow. On the other hand, the more concrete goal will be to “drink 10 glasses of water and strict no to fast food”.
Also when you are framing your goal, it should be achievable and meaningful.
The goals should be realistic enough that you can easily accomplish them and this makes them ‘Achievable’.
The goals are achievable but it should be good enough that they help you make notable progress and this makes them ‘meaningful’.
- Achievable means that your goals should be realistic enough that you can accomplish them.
- Meaningful means that goals should be well defined, possible to achieve and significant enough to help you make notable progress.
Now as your goals are ready, you can move to the second step
2. Identify the problem
If you are really serious to solve your problem of procrastinating then you need to understand the exact nature of the problem you are dealing with.
This can be done by working on the three main factors:
- When you procrastinate
Here you need to know what the situations are when you procrastinate more. Like you procrastinate more when you are doing the home chores or when you have to perform the work that takes you to move outside.
You have more problem in starting a task or you struggle to finish tasks after you have started them?
- How you procrastinate
In this step ask yourself how you procrastinate or what you do when you procrastinate.
For example, do you hang out, watch videos or TV, read newspaper or magazines, go to sleep or find some unimportant tasks to complete.
- Why you procrastinate
Here you need to analyze the reason why you procrastinate.
For example, you do this because you feel distracted or you feel so excited or nervous that you don’t understand how to get started?
3. Make an action plan
As you have set your goals and identified the nature of your problem, make an action plan which will help you avoid procrastination and start getting the things done.
To make an effective action plan, you need to work out which anti-procrastination techniques you should use and what are the ways to use them. These techniques broadly fall into two main categories:
- Behavioral Techniques
The techniques which are used to modify your actions by facilitating you infuse positive behaviors and removing negative ones are behavioral techniques.
- Cognitive techniques
The techniques which are used to modify your thoughts by facilitating you infuse positive thought patterns and removing the negative ones are cognitive techniques.
Although some techniques are a blend of behavioral and cognitive both and it’s more important to understand the application and implication of techniques rather differentiate the type of techniques.
List of anti-procrastination techniques
1. Break your work into small parts
This technique works so well when you have a task which is quite big.
Break large task into smaller parts or sub-parts. This will help you finish each part one by one and will give a sense of accomplishment on finishing each subtask.
Soon sub-tasks will be finished and the main task is eventually accomplished
For example, if you have to prepare a presentation on the sales projection for a year, you can do it by breaking it into each quarter and collect the data for each quarter and then combine it for a year.
This will make your task easy and let you stop procrastinating.
2. Prioritize tasks
In this technique, you need to prepare a list of tasks based on the priority of them to be finished first. This will result in focusing you more on finishing the important one first rather than wasting time on trivial tasks.
You can prioritize your work by preparing a to-do-list at end of each day and putting them in order of the priority and evaluating the same at the end of the day. This will help you make a habit of finishing the priority task first.
3. Change your environment
Believe it or not but different environments have a different impact on our productivity.
The environment of your room, office or workplace has the tendency to make you feel enthusiastic to work or make you lethargic and sleepy.
Observe it and if a change is needed, do it without any delay. Sometimes a little change or modification make the environment inspiring and motivating like few motivational posters or a clean desk etc. may work wonders.
4. Identify your productivity patterns
Everybody have different productivity patterns or cycles, which means that different results are produced during different times of the day.
For example, some people are more productive in the morning while others might be more productive at night. There are other productive patterns like some need tea or coffee to enhance their efficiency or so. So you must identify your productivity patterns to avoid procrastination.
In this way, you can schedule your most important tasks to your most productive time and the less important work to the time you lack energy or can keep the break during those time period.
5. Develop a routine
You must have a daily/weekly/monthly routine, which can be helpful in getting you to avoid procrastination.
For example, you can set up a routine of daily work out in the morning and then move forward for some productive work leaving the social media or checking emails set aside to do while commuting.
The routine will set the pattern and you will be stick to it and improve your productivity. This will help you avoid procrastination.
6. Create a timeline with specific deadlines
This is a very important technique to avoid procrastination. Create a timeline with specific deadlines will help you a lot.
In this, if you have a task that needs to be completed on a deadline, break the task into small parts and create a timeline for each sub-tasks. This will eventually let you finish the task within the set deadline.
7. Practice time management
Time management is the most important aspect to avoid procrastination. You can use time management techniques or apps or can prepare your time table. This will help you allocate the assigned time to the important and necessary tasks.
When you have fixed time for different tasks you will not waste that time else it will pile up the work for the next day.
If you really stick to the time management practice you will not procrastinate at all.
9. Reward yourself for your achievements
People often procrastinate because the result that they are going to get with the accomplishment of important tasks are in the long term and are less appealing than that of the instant gratification from the less important tasks.
You can avoid procrastination by rewarding yourself for your small achievements which are sub-tasks of a big task which is going to reward you in the long run.
10. Improve your energy level
When you are filled with energy you will not procrastinate and you always feel motivated to work. To boost your energy level you can follow the below simple tips:
- Proper quality sleep
When you sleep well you will feel more energetic and productivity will be at a high. Your brain is active and you can see the improvement in terms of your physical and mental health.
- Drink enough water
When your body is properly hydrated you will have good energy level and you can concentrate more on work. Keep drinking water from time to time will work great wonders.
- Take small breaks
Don’t keep working at a stretch for long hours it will make your brain tired and you will start procrastinating. Take short breaks and during the break, you can move out and have some fresh air or listen to a song or talk to a friend, etc.
- Eat healthy
If you are hungry don’t just grab any junk food or snacks that will increase your energy for a short while and later make you feel tired. So always eat healthy food, fresh fruits, and salad, etc. for a great energy level.
If you are not physically active try to be active with little exercise. It can be in any form like yoga, gym, push-ups or even walking. Exercise keeps you active and fit. It is said that a healthy mind lives in a healthy body.
Be in the company of action takers
It is proved that you are an average of 5 people you are spending your time with. So be in the company of action takers and go-getters. Their company will inspire you to take actions and move towards your goal.
It is not necessary that you need them physically but this can be done by following some mentors etc. via their videos, courses, seminars or books.
Procrastination is really a tough problem to deal with, but if you are really serious to solve it. Follow the techniques I have mentioned in “Procrastination: A Scientific Guide on How to Stop Procrastinating”. In this article, I have tried to put all the tools that you need to deal with the problem of procrastination.
Please mention your feedback and questions in the comment section below. I shall be happy to be connected with you in any way.
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