How to Stop Procrastinating
Most of us have dealt with the unpleasant feeling of procrastinating homework, work or even chores and then having to put more effort to accomplish the same goal in a very short period of time with the added stress overload.
Procrastinating is a natural thing.
There is no need to be ashamed. What should be embarrassing is not looking for a change and keep making your life miserable under the stress of deadlines or rushing up to complete a work that could have been done in a better way if done sooner, with more time.
Here are some simple tips to avoid procrastination and start changing your habits.
1. Block distractions:
It is easier to slip away and do everything else, except what you were supposed to do if your environment is full of distractions.
Procrastinating means your brain do not want to do the task that needs to be done and distractions are a great excuse to pull you out of the right path.
When you are committed to do something; make it easier by blocking anything that can distract you.
Put your cellphone in another room, silence notifications, and block distracting thoughts by breathing and refocusing constantly on the task at hand.
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2. Get an accountability partner/ mastermind group:
When related to personal projects, an accountability partner or mastermind group can help you to stay focus in your goals, paths and commitments.
An accountability partner will hold you accountable for the things you say, you were going to do, and they can even help you with honest feedback and advice in a non-judgmental dynamic.
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3. Build habits/ routines:
Procrastinating is a habit hard to break, but it is just a habit after all.
On the other hand, stop procrastinating is hard to reach but you can make it a habit.
Start with small goals and make progressions.
a) I noticed that my procrastination habit was reflected in many areas of my life, not just in the big tasks.
I started compromising with small tasks and chores around the house under this commitment: "If it takes less than 5 minutes, do it immediately".
It hasn't been long since I started applying this strategy, but I already see the results and the change in my inner attitude.
4. Schedule tasks in your calendar, add a reminder.
It is very useful to schedule in your calendar tasks that you are likely to procrastinate.
It is not about schedule the deadline, but about to schedule and plan when and where you are going to invest time to work in the task.
Many people don't use the calendar in their cellphones for their personal life but just for work related compromises.
Scheduling tasks in your calendar is an amazing way to plan and commit with certain tasks.
In the power of habit, Charles Duhigg mentions a research where the intention was to track how patients were successful practicing their rehab exercises.
They found the most successful patients were the ones that wrote down their intentions of exercising as a plan, including details such as where, when and how.
In words of Duhigg: "A habit is a formula our brain automatically follows: When I see CUE, I will do ROUTINE in order to get a REWARD. To re-engineer that formula, we need to begin making choices again. And the easiest way to do this, according to study after study, is to have a plan. Within psychology, these plans are known as “implementation intentions.” "
5. Exercise your will power.
Will power is like a muscle, to get stronger it needs work out and constant training.
It's always going to be necessary to put some effort and push yourself, exercise your will power muscle to break old patterns and create new ones.
The more you push yourself, the easier is going to become to get things done even if you don't feel like it.
6. Think in the consequences of procrastinating and have some sympathy for “your future self”.
Studies have shown that by default we think in our future selves as strangers, which make it easier and it is probably a good reason of why is so easy to procrastinate.
One of the rules in Jordan Peterson's book: 12 rules for life is treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.
This makes a lot of sense. If you treat yourself as someone you are responsible for helping seeing the future you as a friend rather than a stranger, you will acknowledge that it would be better to get things done before hitting deadlines, otherwise future you is going to be anxious, sleep deprived and under stress.
Mel Robbins talks about the same issue with different words; she says most people forget that after 18 years old is your own responsibility to parent yourself.
As you can see, different words by several authors, but the same approach.
You are responsible for your decisions and choices, if you recognize and understand that you are responsible for helping yourself and providing better conditions for your future self, you are likely to make better choices and avoid procrastination.
But first you need to fully understand this concept and to be self-aware.
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7. Remember, the hardest part is start:
I bet you can remember times when you were avoiding a task, but the moment you finally did it you realized it was not so hard and you could have done it before.
Sometimes, the hardest part is sitting down and start.
Once you start, everything runs more smoothly, or it looks more achievable.
Keep this in mind next time you are procrastinating. Push yourself a little bit to get started and realize how this step is the hardest.
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8. Reward yourself.
The feeling of accomplishment when finishing something we were procrastinating is refreshing, but for long lasting results you should recognize your progress and reward yourself after putting the effort to finish some task you weren't feeling like doing.
Rewarding yourself after this accomplishes two things.
First, it helps to create a habit, since you are incorporating a cue, a routine and a reward.
Second, you would be gaining some trust in yourself since you are doing the things you agreed you would do, like after finishing _____ task, I will reward myself with _______.
Finally remember that sometimes is better to start the task and work in the details later.
In this way is easier to advance and get more focused in the main points and enter the flow zone.
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Something that might help if you prefer a paper agenda over a digital one: