An age-old question that has bothered human beings, young and old, rich or poor. Even the famous Dalai Lama, according to Career Addict is a well-known slacker among his students.
So what exactly is procrastination?
Procrastination is the ability to forego a certain activity for a period of time and fail to execute it in time. It’s a fancy way of saying that you just don’t want to do something you should be doing. And as humans, we are all somehow guilty of procrastinating.
School kids would rather play video games after school rather than finish their assignments first. I was guilty of that. Office workers would rather reply to their emails after meeting up with their friends. It happens everywhere.
Procrastination is the enemy of progress.
For creators such as writers, artists, and creatives, procrastination could be the difference between success and failure. Normally procrastination takes away one’s attention from the most important activity which can be regressive.
This article is your go-to if you want to nip procrastination in the bud.
Here are four ways you can stop procrastinating and start being more productive.
1. Compile a to-do list
The only way you can avoid relegating important tasks is by prioritizing your tasks. When you write down what you want to do, make sure to start with the necessary tasks.
Don’t prioritize unwisely.
A 6 a.m shareholders meeting is less trivial than grocery shopping. Schoolwork is more important than writing a blog post, sadly. Be wise when ranking your tasks.
As you complete each task, tick it off and reward yourself. It takes patience not to veer off from your tasks. Avoid distractions.
Set a time frame for each task, if possible. This will make you more organized and confident that you can complete each task.
Walk around with your to-do list and re-assess it to check whether there are tasks that can be killed with one stone. This saves you time to complete your tasks and have your own time to while.
If you have no idea where to start, here is a template for you to download and use.
2. Motivate yourself.
The reason you procrastinated in the first place was because you lacked the motivation to execute your duties. As an author, I know it can be taxing to juggle both schoolwork, blogging and writing as well as a social life. Losing the urge to continue is very likely.
Find motivation to help you continue with your task.
- Micro-organize. This refers to segmenting your task into smaller tasks that are manageable to you. If you were doing editing work, try and start with organizing your documents (first small task), dividing your documents into the important batch (second small task) and then edit them (final task).
This could also go for the students with large projects at college or high school. It is better for you to micro-manage the tasks instead of tackling the entire task. Chances of getting tired or bored by the latter option are high.
- Negative reinforcement. Try and take away something you like from yourself. Easy, right?
You could starve yourself, put money on the line, put your phone away or even isolate yourself. The privilege you take away from yourself should be the reward for finishing your tasks.
- Positive reinforcement. Surround yourself with things that give you the urge to work. Whether it’s another friend or colleague, your siblings, good music, good food, anything! Another way of positive reinforcement is giving yourself small imminent rewards at the end of each task.
For example, in the case of the editor, the first task could be rewarded with a short break, the second task could be rewarded with a positive remark or encouragement and the final task is rewarded by the sweet sense of accomplishment. Obviously the rewards could come in different forms for different tasks and people.
The great Leonardo Da Vinci was an unfocused man and for most of his life he couldn’t get around finishing his commissioned works of art. He even had to be threatened with bankruptcy to finish some of them. His masterpiece, Mona Lisa, took almost sixteen years to get done. Most of his lauded pieces right now were unfinished actually because focus wasn’t just his thing. Great thing we all love them.
You might be wondering why focus is needed to avoid procrastination yet it is the exact quality you are lacking. Well, the only saving grace you have is focusing on the end result.
Focus on the end result.
A soccer player is one great example I may use. The number of injuries, the lack of playing time, the incessant training sessions, external factors and diet issues can drag a soccer player to the dump. But if the player concentrates on the end goal which is progressive growth to be a great player, then all the other factors don’t faze the player at all.
Are you fazed by the insurmountable duties ahead of you? A test, a home renovation, book publishing, photo-shoots? Does everything suddenly seem too hot for you to handle?
Remember what you are chasing.
4. Take time off (but not for too long)
The Latin saying “MENS SANA IN CORPORE SANO“ means a healthy mind in a healthy body. I like to think of it as an alternative to a tired mind equals a tired body and a tired resolve.
It is impossible to achieve something when your body is not into it. Otherwise how are you even going to lug your body to the gym, or take a vlogging camera and smile into it?
Your only remedy is to relax. Have a nap to rejuvenate you body. On this note, kindly don’t sleep in because your job may be on the line for not showing up. Also, make sure you set an alarm because the chances of you being snagged into a deep sleep are very high right then.
You could also leave the tedious task for a while and maybe talk a walk. This clears your mind off the worries and anxieties.
Remember not to revel in the relaxing too much that you actually forget to complete your task.
Thanks for reading this far and learning how to stop procrastinating. Therefore I will add a bonus tip as a show of gratitude.
When delegating your tasks on your to-do list (tip 1), remember to start with the hardest tasks. The tasks that are bound to be tedious should be completed first before undertaking the “small” tasks later.
The science behind this is because you are fresher and more active when you know that the harder tasks are what you are finishing off first. Your body motivates you, and this sort of motivation is carried on to the less difficult tasks. So it’s a win-win for you.
On the other hand, if you start with the less taxing tasks, which are usually more, then the vital energy to complete the difficult tasks is drained.
With that bonus tip, I am sure that you will never procrastinate in your life. And if you do, remember you have this article to help you avoid it.
Do you have friends or colleagues you know who are chronic procrastinators? Then share this out to them and give them a dose of Owen Kariuki’s prescription.
(COMMENT BELOW ON WHICH PRO TIP YOU LIKED. 🙂