How to Beat The Procrastination? Deal with the Monster (Part 3)
So far, we have learned all about how procrastination works and how it can affect our lives and even though it is mostly given bad press, if we choose to procrastinate by doing more important tasks, it can be seen as a good thing.
Most of the time, this isn’t the case and we end up putting off important tasks in order to do something less urgent. When we do procrastinate this way it often brings us negative outcome that we should avoid at as much as we can. In this third installment of the ‘procrastination series’ I am going to help you with this important task. There is going to be 5 tips clearly laid out so you can learn how to tame the beast that is procrastination.
Read Previous Articles of the “Procrastination series”
1. Minimalist approach
The main idea of this first method is simple but it might be less successful than other solutions. Here, you should start with the work that is the most important. How? Ask yourself what is the task that you absolutely NEED to get done today? Once this has been decided, isolate yourself so you are completely free from any distractions; I mean absolutely everything. Don’t think ‘well, I will take my mobile phone with me’ because we know what that will lead to and your highest score on the latest app doesn’t need beating just yet. If you can get away with it, turn your router off so you have no access to the internet (I bet this might be the most difficult part). Now you can just focus on your work.
Next, find your motivation for this task. If it is an important presentation for work, realize what you are doing it for (it could be to progress in your career, for exemple). If the task in hand is a particularly big, split it into smaller achievable pieces.
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Lets suppose that it is something that will take all day, then it would be best to break it into sections that will take, for example, an hour at a time; this will give you a real sense of progress as you complete each task. As long as you say that you’re not coming out of isolation until all the work is done, you will be set to complete it!
For this to be useful, you also need to have your goal clearly defined (keep reading if goal setting is your main problem) so that focus isn’t lost half way through; if your goal is set out, you know that now is the time to work and the time for fun will be later.
This method isn’t always successful though, especially if you are not an organised person as it can just lead to procrastination in a different environment. Instead of sitting on the sofa wasting your day, you will now be sitting at a computer desk procrastinating instead, especially if your internet connection is still on.
2. Rest, rest, rest
This second method is particularly great if you feel as though you are procrastinating as a result of a lack of energy (remember we talked about it in the previous article). If you are looking for a short-term option, do one of these things:
- Drink a cup of tea or coffee (and I mean one, not nine or ten!)
- If you own a dog, take it for a walk as you will both feel the benefit
- Take a short nap (not the whole day!)
- Meditate (my personal favorite). At least 10-minute meditation is a great way to get some of that lost energy back.
- Workout either at home or at the gym (to get into a different environment)
- Take a relaxing bath with candles and a variety of essential oils
If you were looking for more of a long-term solution, follow one of these great tips:
- Get regular exercise, if you care for less physical alternative yoga, tai chi or pilates can work miracles as well
- Make sure that you get enough sleep EVERY night. Different people need different amounts of sleep, find out what works for your body and ensure that you get that amount regularly
- Have a hobby that you can do away from work; maybe find a book that will help you to relax
- Have some time off! Everybody needs a little time away sometimes and you should too. If you have been working hard for a long period of time, you will be physically and mentally drained so try to get some time away every now and then; even if it is just a weekend retreat!
I realize that there may not always be time to rest, so of course; I have got you covered here as well! This trick should be called a “kick” really, as this is exactly what it will give you; a “kick” of motivation to stop procrastination. You have to have a bit of fun with this one. Imagine a dark and dreadful scenario of something that will happen if you don’t get your work done in time. The imaginative negative outcome doesn’t have to be all that realistic, but it has to be something you would really like to avoid.
For example, if you work on a presentation for your boss and the deadline is approaching, you can imagine, that if you fail to deliver it in time, a series of events will happen.
Something like this: your boss then will get frustrated and will organize an after work meeting for the whole team. Then the electricity will go out and you will all end up locked down in your office for the night. Everybody will get even more emotional or crazy about being locked and eventually someone will call the police so they all could be rescued. The police will come along with some local TV news journalists and once you are free and out the building, they will make funny news report, presenting you as someone to be blamed for this unnecessary lock down and the waste of time and tax money.
Sounds pretty unrealistic? Good! It has to be this way. You do not need any realistic scenarios here, as these can bring real negative events to your life. You do not need to apply any powerful negative visualizations. Simply give your subconscious mind a little bit of motivation to get the work done. Remember, in theory it all happened because you missed the deadline of your presentation, so the best way to prevent these events from happening is to get it all set up in time, right? Don’t worry about this imaginative outcome to a bit ridiculous as it has to be this way.
Have fun with this exercise and your subconscious will think ‘well hang on, I don’t want to look like one of those losers on the TV, I better just do the work!’ Job done!
3. To be or not to be…
If you are someone that tends to procrastinate as a result of a lack of goals, this is definitely the one for you. If you say ‘I sort of know what I have to do but let’s do something fun first’, you will know that the ‘something fun’ will turn into a whole day of that ‘fun’ because you haven’t clearly laid out your goals. Our subconscious doesn’t do well with ‘maybe’ and ‘sort of’ as they are unclear statements, so we are unsure of what we should be doing and this creates the monster of procrastination all over again. So make sure you are completely clear with yourself.
What you should be doing is clearly defining what motivates you to do the task; is it money, success, promotion? If you struggle to answer this question, maybe it isn’t actually that important and if that is the case, leave it and find something that is. If you need to get the job done, add some motivation to boost your mind-set; for example, spend some time meditating or creating a new positive affirmation. Dig in and just do it!
There are always going to be scenarios where you are struggling with getting motivated and you can’t just leave it undone, so what should you do here? You have to invent the motivation; this may take a bit of practice but soon, you will be able to master this method.
Here a good example for you to get inspired, three men were once transporting heavy stones on their shoulders and someone asked what they were doing here. The first replied “I work like a dog here”, the second said “I earn money here” and the third replied, “I am building a temple”. Notice how these three men had completely different mind-sets and this is what you need to do too.
Try to reformulate your lack of motivation in the same way. Imagine that you are doing it for a greater good or purpose. If your reason is a possible promotion, think about why do you need this, what great things are going to happen to you when you will be rewarded with a higher position in your organization. Do that and you will see how this is boosting your inspiration levels and how quickly your task will be done.
4. Plan, plan, plan (My personal favorite)
This is a method that applies to those that have a lack of control and I touched upon it in the second part of this procrastination series. Benjamin Franklin once said “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” and this couldn’t apply more in this scenario. Make sure you write out some checklists and schedules of things that you want to complete over a set amount of time. Once you complete this task, put a little tick next to it and notice how good it feels as you start moving down the list. Make sure the list goes up somewhere that you will see it regularly, don’t just stuff it in a drawer or under some paperwork; you want to be proud of all those ticks that are building up!
Normally when making a list, we stick the most important things at the top and work our way down, however, we are going to tame the monster. With that in mind, you should flip your list around or at least mix it up a little so when your subconscious decides to skip the first one or two, you will still be ensuring that important jobs get done. This is important, to keep your motivation power going, and to eliminate the guilt of skipping one or other line in your plan. Now you know, that if this happens, you can always return to it after accomplishing other tasks.
5. Habit, rituals and more rituals
This one is super simple and really effective; we already know how our bad habits will mean that work doesn’t get done but how do we counteract this? Rituals are fantastic as they will help you to concentrate on getting the job done rather than just starting it and possibly abandoning it later.
For example, if you normally start the morning with a flick through the Facebook feed to see what others have gotten up to, change it. Instead, you could now have a twenty-minute meditation session. Or, instead of watching TV whilst eating breakfast, get your mind-set in the right place from the start by planning your day or if you have already done that, plan your first piece of work. This means that you will be ready to start working as soon as you have finished your morning preparations rather than trying to work out who killed your favorite TV character! It is all about giving your conscious and subconscious mind the right kick start. Don’t worry it does not mean that you should never be watching your favorite TV show or check your facebook news feed. There is always time for fun stuff and recreational process.
Example: one of my friends is a tech freelancer. He has plenty of time during the day to watch TV or browse the internet for some fun stuff. Instead, he decided to spend a fun time in the evening and when he has spear time during the day, he would rather go for his favorite sports activity – cycling or would read informative articles and books.
Did you know that Victor Hugo, the famous writer, would use procrastination techniques? Cool, right? Even one of the most creative and successful men to ever walk the planet struggled with procrastination and had to think of ways to prevent the monster from taking over. There are many stories of how he used to give all of his clothes to his servant and then sit working whilst naked until he hit a certain word target. He actually wrote some of his greatest work whilst using this technique!
Of course, you may not want to sit naked for hours, but you can adapt this to suit yourself. Furthermore, writer Raymond Chandler used to lock himself into his writing area for FOUR hours at a time which basically gave him two choices:
1) Do nothing
2) Write something
If you were to do this, at first your body may like the idea of just not doing anything but eventually, boredom will take over. Can you imagine sitting in the same spot doing nothing for four hours? I think eventually you would say ‘Oh what the hell, I might as well be doing something. If nothing else, it will make the time go quicker’. This trick can be REALLY successful as you are giving yourself no other option than to work. People often say that this technique is useless because there were fewer distractions for Raymond Chandler and the answer to that is simple; if you are going to spend an amount of time locked in a room, do not take any distractions in there with you! You know, your tablet, smartphone or the internet might just be those distractions to avoid.
So there you have it, over the last three posts you should have learned a lot more than you knew before about procrastination. We have learned what it is, the different types and more importantly, how to make sure that the monster doesn’t take over our lives. If procrastination has become a serious problem in your life, it will not make it any worse by trying one of these tips. These tips have been tried and tested and as I said before, if you are looking for new rituals, you don’t have to sit there with no clothes on, just find techniques that work for you and I guarantee that your productivity will reach heights that they have never reached before!
Do share what tricks and methods did you use to beat the procrastination or what methods or topics you would like me to cover in my upcoming articles. I will be glad to respond to your comments and suggestions below this article.
>>>>Wishing You Luck, Love and Success!<<<<