Procrastination can seem like a harmless habit, but it has a negative and sometimes long-lasting consequences.
Why do we put off things that need to get done?
Probably because many of us – perhaps most of us- are born with a strong tendency to procrastinate.
We have many excuses – we’re tired, we don’t want to face a difficult situation, we’re genuinely lazy. There are as many reasons as there are procrastinators.
Am I talking to myself? Is it just me? Or is it also you? I know, I struggle with procrastination especially with important things. The usual justification for procrastinating is the notion that, if you wait long enough, your problems will go away by themselves. Of course, this sounds silly in the clear light of day, but when your mind decides to work on you, its arguments can be pretty convincing.
Procrastination is a battle, but one we can win. To do this, we must convince ourselves that we can make a difference in our own lives.
Let’s start by focusing on these 8 ways to overcoming our procrastination problem, the delay relay:
These are actual, physical steps that will help you get moving. Remember, do not delay, put one of these valuable techniques into practice today.
1. Start small
Take small steps. I’d like to call it “micro movements”. Don’t try to do too much. Plan just a few steps at a time, but take those steps.
2. Write down your goals and things to do
Writing down your goals reinforces them and keeps them fresh in your mind. Writing down your things to do makes you a little bit more productive. This approach has worked for me because I am of eccentric personality that gets satisfaction in physically crossing off each goal and checking each things to do after I have accomplished them.
All the physical tricks in the world wont help you if you don’t win the battle of the mind. It is your mind that devises the excuses and justification schemes that fuel procrastination. But a mind that can work against you can certainly be trained to work for you.
3. Be flexible
Keep an open mind and always leave room for new things that may pop up. If you are too rigid in your schedule, you will not be able to adapt to changes or surprises, especially pleasant surprises. So stay loose, and be ready to deal with new items as they arise. This was very difficult for me. I am organized and very detailed, and being flexible is not so me. But as they say only change is permanent so I’ve got to change and is still learning.
4. Be on your guard
Be aware of the ploys of procrastination slipping back in. Your mind has convinced you before that a few minutes of delay was okay and it will probably try again. In my case, when hunger pang strikes at midnight and I grab myself something to eat or drink, procrastination is at its best when I leave unwashed dishes or glasses that I used for midnight snacks. But I am training myself these days that the moment I catch myself thinking that way, the more that I should wash dirty plates and glasses, right at that moment.
Procrastination is also an emotional issue, especially an emotional issue because its ploys include matters that affect our self-esteem, self-image or insecurities. We are putting off doing things today because we are afraid that we might look silly or that we are not good enough and we wait for the “best days” that of course will not come if we continue to procrastinate.
5. Have a positive outlook
Don’t see tasks as ordeals. Instead, see them as challenges. Often, just looking at something as an adventure or an opportunity not as a chore or duty can make all the difference in your enthusiasm.
These days, when I find myself taking overwhelming assignments at work or in my personal life, I quickly utter a word of thank you to God. Because too often when I am overwhelmed, I don’t know where to begin or I get confused and that makes me procrastinate, but instantly acknowledging and thanking God for the many blessings helps me gain a better perspective.
6. Be grateful, always
When you appreciate your life, you want to celebrate it. And who wants to delay a celebration, no one, right? So be grateful even in little things and it will make you enthusiastic to start whatever task is ahead of you.
7. Go easy on yourself
You should push yourself to succeed, but don’t push too hard. Don’t belittle yourself; inspire yourself. Reward yourself for victories and accomplishments, but don’t beat yourself up over setbacks. There will be plenty of each along the way, so be prepared.
Most people put things off because of various forms of anxiety, fear, pressure and stress. Don’t let this happen to you. Realize that tension and nervousness are natural parts of life and you can fight through them. Take time to do the things that relax you, whether it is meditation, rest, exercise, writing on your journal or reading.
For many people, I, included, the first step is the hardest step (especially when I am deciding whether to go for a swim or go to the gym). If this is true for you, try this exercise to get yourself going. Dedicate just five minutes to a task, and during those five minutes, get as much done on that task as you can. When your time is up, decide if you want to go another five minutes. I can somehow guarantee that once you start working on your task, you lose track of time and you just get going until it is completed.
But for those of you who still find it a struggle, do not slip back to procrastination. Instead, repeat these 5-minute cycles as many times in a row as you want. When you decide to stop, if you have not yet completed your project, take a final 5 minutes to plan out where you will pick up when you come back to finish.
So, this is how we can stop procrastinating.