By: Justin Hill
Procrastination. We all do it, some more than others. In fact, Psychology Today states that 20 percent of individuals have chronic issues with procrastination.
I'll take care of it tomorrow."
Thoughts like these may swirl in your mind. Which leads to further procrastination, finally repeating a vicious cycle of lots of thinking (even over analyzing), with very little doing or accomplishing of the task you originally intended to complete.
In order to stave off that nasty procrastination, you need to realize it comes down to self-control, feelings, and habits.
We all have a hard time controlling ourselves, especially with things like that big bucket of ice-cream, sugary drinks, or putting off something you should do to catch the latest TV show everyone seems to be talking about.
Feelings (or emotions) are also an interesting thing. One day we are up, another we are down. Also, we can’t really predict how we will feel tomorrow, we can only go off how we feel right now, which is unfortunate, especially in the face of procrastination.
For example, if you feel bad today, you may put the task off for today so you can just relax for now. And you can’t predict if you will actually get it done tomorrow. This is how procrastination works. It’s something that takes us away from tasks and justifies itself in the friendly veneer of “doing it tomorrow,” “two days from now,” or “next week.” And in its own convenient way, it feels like accomplishment when nothing has been done. It’s just been procrastinated.
Finally, we have our habits, which are in and of themselves something that could be covered in an entire book. Your habits either inhibit or enhance procrastination. Don’t be the person that lets your autopilot take over and give into the procrastination.
Let’s start with an example – how I procrastinated this article.
I got up, did my usual exercise, and sat down to pound out the article. It was going to be done all in one swift, several-hour sitting.
It didn’t happen. I procrastinated.
I kept doing things like browsing Amazon, checking social media, and watching YouTube videos, while the article didn’t even get started.
I finally took note of what was happening, I cut out the distractions, and I focused on what I wanted to get done.
First, I noticed that I was actually procrastinating because I kept thinking that I would do it within the hour, and the next hour, and… you get the point – that’s procrastination.
Second, I had to eliminate all of the distractions, which came in the form of too many things opened. I closed out all the tabs, only leaving YouTube open. I looked up a YouTube video with rain sounds which helps me get “in the zone” with writing, especially article writing.
Finally, I opened up a word document, wrote down “Procrastination Article Brainstorm,” opened up new tabs of procrastination articles, and began to read. This put my focus on the topic of the article – procrastination. Then, after browsing a few articles, I jumped into writing.
I got the first draft of the article done within a few hours. Also, I rewarded myself with some “distracting” YouTube videos.
This brings us to the point of the article – providing you with some ways to deal with that pesky procrastination. I will begin by breaking down my example into pieces that you can apply to your own procrastination. Then, I will follow up with some other examples I found while browsing. Finally, I will provide some further reading.
First off, let’s go over my example. The things that helped eliminate my procrastination were:
Notice the Procrastination
This isn’t always easy. Our habits are pretty ingrained. You don’t really think about all the little intricacies involved in driving your car from home to work, you just do it unconsciously – you’re on autopilot. Procrastination is no different. You tell yourself this, you think that, and next thing you know, three hours have elapsed, and the task you wanted to get done hasn’t even been started.
You may not catch it at first. This is something you can work on. Try to notice the signs of procrastination. Notice the little habits you do, or triggers that set you in the motion of procrastinating. Better yet, make noticing when you procrastinate a habit, so you can catch it quicker and eliminate it.
Cut the Distractions
In order to cut out the procrastination, you need to eliminate all the distractions, which are the physical manifestations of your procrastination in action. I know it’s hard, but just like any new habit, it needs to be fostered and repeated, which will reinforce the fight against procrastination, and help keep you on the track of getting your tasks completed.
Now, distractions come in all shapes and sizes – mine just happened to be tabs on my Internet browser that had nothing to do with the topic of procrastination. Instead, I spent time on those websites procrastinating, which is kind of ironic.
Distractions can come in the form of eating junk food, watching TV shows, or reading an enthralling fiction book. Whatever it is, a distraction is something that takes you away from the original task you intended to complete, like the writing of a procrastination article.
Focus on the Task
What is it you want to get done? Now that you have eliminated the distractions, what are things that help get it completed?
For me, it was ambiance in the form of YouTube videos of rain. Also, I opened up a Word document, wrote down a title dealing with procrastination, and opened up some articles in my Internet browser on procrastination.
I made a conscious effort to read up on procrastination, then I wrote my thoughts down, using my own experience, and what I had just read.
It moved smoothly, and I got my rough draft done within a few hours.
Sometimes being more specific can help. For example, I could have set a time limit for reading since the reading could have turned into procrastination about procrastination! That wouldn’t have been good. I could have shot for a certain word count, like 700 words.
There you have it. That’s how I got out of procrastination with the writing of this article.
Next, let’s cover four additional ways to deal with procrastination that I discovered while reading about it online.
Progress not Perfection
We always strive to be perfect, whether that’s an artist redoing work, a writer rewriting their article, or you trying to deal with your procrastination. Everyone wants to take a project on all at once, in one perfect swoop.
The reality: that’s just not how it works. By trying to strive for perfection, you essentially doom yourself. The goal is to work on progress, whether that’s dealing with the procrastination itself, or taking care of the task in a progressive manner.
Break it Up
Sometimes a project or task can be so overwhelming or daunting that it leads to inaction, which brings procrastination to the forefront, and later adds to its justification. Don’t be that person. Break your tasks up into manageable pieces, however you define manageable.
I broke up writing the article into three pieces: reading about procrastination, writing up a rough draft, then editing that rough draft. Even something like the writing of an article can become overwhelming if you think about the completed, polished piece all at once.
Just break your tasks up into workable pieces. And before you know it, you’ll be leaving procrastination behind as you travel to bigger and better destinations where procrastination can’t hold you down.
Excuses and Justifications
Don’t be the excuse person. Don’t be that individual that says things like “I would have started X if it weren’t for Y,” or “I’m better about getting a task completed when I start on Monday” or even something like, “I don’t feel like it right now.”
Don’t let the excuses and justifications for why you aren’t tackling your task get in your way.
Don’t come up with a list of excuses and justifications for why you can’t (or won’t) get the tasks done. The best practice is to avoid excuses or justifications entirely.
Now that we’ve covered some additional things you can do, I want to also provide two resources on procrastination. Each has something different to offer, but they both have information to help you stop that pesky procrastination.
This was great because it includes an infographic on ways to beat procrastination. It’s on the shorter side, but it packs a ton of info in the quick infographic.
This one works well because it provides a quick overview video at the first, then it dives into the meat of the information – and there’s plenty to delve into on this one.
There you have it. There’s enough in this article – and the accompanying resources – to tackle procrastination.
While procrastination can vary for each person, the ideas in this article can be catered to fit any need. They may not all work for you, but I hope the ones that do are useful. I would love to hear how you overcame procrastination, and what techniques worked for you. If you have any addition ideas about procrastination, please share them below.
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