Have you ever experience this?
You arrive to work, you know you need to call someone, write a report, finish a presentation, but instead, you suddenly find yourself browsing the internet for more than an hour?
Or maybe you arrive home, you know you should clean your kitchen, but instead, you find yourself watching TV until it´s too late to do it, so you agree it´ll be better to do it tomorrow.
If you ever experienced something like that, you are dealing with a devil called – procrastination.
In this article I am going to share with you 5 practical strategies on how to easily beat procrastination, so you´ll never put away anything, that eventually brings you nothing but more stress, anger, and disappointment.
But, first, you need to realize…
The good news is that you´re NOT a procrastinator. It´s not something you´re dealing with because you´ re weird or crazy. (You would be surprised, how many people think that).
What´s going on is that you, as well as millions of people all over the world, have a habit to procrastinate.
It´s the same habit as waking up and at the same time every day or drinking coffee every morning.
And that´s actually a good thing. Because, every habit, can be changed or replaced by a brand new, better one. So, let´s take a better look at what a habit actually is. Every habit consist of 3 parts:
There is something that starts the whole process of your certain action. If you have a habit to drink a coffee every morning right after you wake up, you need to wake up first. That´s the trigger.
When it comes to procrastination, the trigger is always stress.
You come to the work, you are stressed about the traffic, you find out you need to make 15 phone calls, you need to go to see a boss, and more and more…
Suddenly, with all this stress your brain starts to think… Well, I don´ t want to deal with all of this! it´s better to postpone all those tasks.
And that brings us to the second part of a habit, which is…
That´s the actual action you take (or not take). This is the behavior you want to whether replace (when it´s a bad habit) or create (when you form a good habit).
In this case, the action is procrastinating.
And lastly, nobody does something, just for the sake of doing it. There´s a third part…
When you wake up (trigger) and you make yourself and drink coffee (routine) you have energy – reward.
Every habit has a certain reward. And in case of procrastination, a reward for you is a few minutes (or sadly, in some cases hours) without stress. Having fun, doing something more interesting.
Here´s an overview of how the habit loop looks like.
But, if you want to really master your habit creating process, you should definitely read The Power Of Habit from Pulitzer prize winner Charles Duhigg.
Now you know, how the habit of procrastination works, so we can move on to the part of overcoming it.
This is the #1 mistake people do when they want to stop procrastinating. They just rely on their willpower. They think they are strong enough to overcome it. That´s a completely wrong way of thinking.
Our willpower, same as energy and time through the day is strictly limited.
That´s why for some poeple it´s almost impossible to force themselves to go work out after their work shift. They spend all their willpower dealing with problems in their work.
As Stephen Guise said:
Willpower is reliable, but only if you don´t run out of it.
The good thing is that willpower is like a muscle, so it can be trained. But, it´s still gonna vary through the day. So, to fix procrastination, there´s one rule:
In the next part of this article, I am going to share with you 5 strategies to stop procrastination, that works the best.
If you want to accomplish any of your goals, doing something is much better than doing nothing, right? Many people do the opposite.
They want to lose weight for example, but since they don´t have so much time (which is, by the way, an excuse) they rather choose to do nothing than do something for a short time.
Do you understand this? Because, mathematically and logically, it doesn´t make any sense.
When I have 20 minutes for working out, and I don´t have let´s say, 1 and a half hour through the day, I choose to work out 0 minutes, instead of those 20. Completely crazy, right?
Research showed, that when people start to do something for a short time, 80% of them actually continue even when this time expires.
And it´s perfectly okay when you don´t want to do something. This shows that you should expect to feel motivated to complete a task AFTER you start, not before.
See? The most important part of this is to start. And, there are 2 ways to do so:
All these goals mentioned above are ridiculously easy to accomplish. And that´s your goal when you want to stop procrastinating in life.
Whether you make an action goal (1 push-up) or time-frame goal (1 minute).
Make it so easy that you can´t say no to it. – Leo Babuta
Benjamin Franklin once said:
“If you fail to plan, you´re planning to fail!”
And in procrastination, it´s more than 100% true.
Think about your own life…What is the time, you´re most like to start to procrastinate?
I guess, in the majority of cases, it´s when you feel uncertain. When you don´t know precisely, what to do, when to do it and why to do it.
Let me give you an example:
One of the most frequent time for people to procrastinate is when they have to learn for a test. When I was in a high school and college, I´d rather do the dishes, throw off and then get back all my clothes from the closet, just to delay the moment, I´ll start to learn.
The mistake was, I didn´t have a precise plan where to start, what chapter is more important, how do I learn. Do I take notes? Do I read aloud? I had no idea.
It needs to see, that by following all those steps, I will 100% get what I want.
That´s why if you haven´t planned your goal-chasing process of your upcoming day, there is a high probability you are going to procrastinate most of your precious time.
Nothing helps you more to NOT procrastinate than sharing your intentions with someone else. It´s not a coincidence when you decide you´re going to start to go to the gym that the first advice trainer gives you, is to find a workout buddy.
Remember, what I say about willpower? It´s not reliable! You should always count on strategies, rather than on your willpower.
And this strategy comes from one of the biggest desires all people have, which is…
We all know how it feels. No wonder you want to avoid it. So, why not make this BAD feeling to work for us?
Simply, tell someone your intentions.
Should you finish your presentation tomorrow? Well, tell it to your colleague, friend or your partner.
Should you go for a run tomorrow, but you know, you won´t be in a mood for it? Tell it to someone. Or even better, ask them to go with you.
In a recent winter, I started with cold hardening, which I highly recommend to you. It has a tremendous amount of benefits.
So, as I started, my friends start to do it with me. It was pretty easy to show up every time. They kept me accountable. I didn´t want to insult them, by not showing up. I didn´t want to look weak, or lack of integrity.
But, as soon as any of my friends weren´t available and I should go to harden all by myself, all kind of excuses started to come up. It´s a long ride, I don´t feel well today and so on and so on.
So, my suggestion to you is to always find a „training buddy“. Someone, who you could share your intentions and your plans with, which keeps you accountable, and don´t let you to rather starring at a wall, computer or blank piece of paper than doing what you suppose to.
When it comes to setting goals, I am a fan of setting smart goals. I think every goal should be:
Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-bounded.
The reason for making this kind of goals is simple:
But, the other side of those goals is that when you set really small goals, you are more willing to procrastinate, because your brain thinks:
That´s the reason, I always tell people to start with BIG outcome. Something, what makes you start in the first place. And then, divide this goal into smaller, more actionable steps (a.k.a. SMART goals).
For some people, the big outcome is:
When it comes to procrastination, BIG outcome keeps you on a track. So, when you have a devil´s thought of put away your task again, simply remember what´s your big payoff, and why did you start to pursue this goal in the first place.
Then, when you see how big it is, your brain quickly understands, you have no time for funny videos right now.
Many people live their lives, as they´d live forever. Yet, life isn´t as long as many of us think. You, me, no one knows, how much time we all have.
And still, many times you choose to just waste time. This precious time, some people don´t even have. According to research, every year 100 million people dies. A lot of them are young, full of wasted opportunities.
The day, you´re willing to admit you already wasted so much time, that many people who were not so lucky would give anything for it, the procrastination won´t be so big problem for you anymore.
Tony Robbins once talked about his rocking chair exercise. Try it for yourself:
Simply imagine, you are 90. You´re sitting in a chair, thinking about your life.
What do you see? Do you see a bunch of regrets? Bunch of wasted time and opportunities? Do you see a life full of happiness and gratitude or anger and sadness?
Simply by doing this exercise, you´ll realize what´s good in your life, what ´s bad, what should you change and what goals to pursue (if you need a step by step guide – here´s a Free training I created for people who want to reach their goals ASAP).
So, find 5 minutes right now, and simply imagine yourself sitting in this chair, and review your life.
Do you see a lot of procrastination? If you do, use 5 steps from this article, and finally win your battle with procrastination once and for all.
Procrastination is a problem you, me, every single person on this planet deal with. Who says he/she ´s not, is just procrastinating to admit it.
A great finding is, you´re NOT a procrastinator, you have just a habit to procrastinate. By understanding a „habit loop“ you can deal with procrastination more effectively.
But, it´s not enough. Your brain needs to see exact steps that lead to the desired outcome.
Yet, when we see it, we should have a person, who we share our plans with, who simply keeps us accountable and not let us choose the easy way, over the right way.
And last but not least, you´re not going to live forever. So, keep it in mind the next time when you´ll have an idea to waste time.
Unless you know exactly what your goals are, and how to get there, I am afraid you´ll be procrastinating.
If you don´t want this to be your case you can check out below, Free training created for people who want to step-by-step guidance for learning 4 necessary skills for reaching their goals without wasting any other minute.
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Leave a comment below – What´s the BIG outcome that´ll keep you focused and helps you crush the procrastination once and for all?