I want you to visualize this situation. Imagine a fund-raising event due in 30 days from now. You are aware of the situation and with plenty of time in your hands. However, each day you keep adding new stuff in front of this pitch deck because you fail to stop procrastinating. You do it repeatedly and once you have realized the event is due tomorrow. You rush and stay up all night to try and finish this presentation that you knew about a month ago.
After all the struggle and many cups of coffee later, you made it. The results? Are excellent, everyone is happy with the paper. Or instead, is a complete failure. It is highly noticeable that you rushed and your co-founders are calling you out. Both scenarios are very common. Procrastinating is not always related to bad results only, but instead a mental state we might go through.
I was never a big procrastinator myself. But every once in awhile, I would find myself doing things last minute. The result wasn’t always bad. But I frequently had simply a horrible time doing a simple task that would’ve taken just a couple hours before. Doing things last minute can be extremely stressful and leave us tired, stressed and just frustrated. Especially if the results are not good, which means all the stress was not “worth it”.
How procrastinating affects us
Procrastination can be explained by delaying a task that we know we need to do over and over again until we are left with a short time to finish. We do it on a daily basis. As a matter of fact, I don’t really think it is 100 per cent possible to stop procrastinating for the rest of our lives.
What we can do, however, is try to avoid it as much as possible. Greek Philosophers used to call the act of procrastinating as “Akrasia”. Which basically means to act against what you know you need to do. Wikipedia defined this concept as – “the state of mind in which someone acts against their better judgment through weakness of will.” In the same example we mentioned before, you are very much aware of what you need to do. And you also know that not doing it is not an option.
However, you still skipped days on end looking to avoid it. Even though you knew very well that it is something you needed to do. Acting against our better judgment, basically.
Doing it over and over again can seriously impact your business, life and your productivity. And although some people can thrive under these circumstances, it’s not really the case for many others. Being so, the option you have is to simply do your best to overcome it. Maybe even find a few tricks to push yourself to start. As with everything else, the hardest step is the first one. But it is the most important thing.
Why do we procrastinate?
Have you ever wondered why you procrastinate? The answer is more likely way more complicated than you and many others might think. But rather logical. When you make a decision, you are often thinking about the present and not the future. So basically, you know that if you don’t stop procrastinating you will have a very stressful few hours when you simply can’t avoid it anymore.
But that is in the future. Not in the present. And you will always prioritize the short-term benefits of any decision. We are made this way. We naturally don’t want to get out of our little box or take any risks. And we don’t really want to get out of our comfort zone.
The consequences of procrastinating are also not in our state of mind when we decide to procrastinate. Those are consequences that will eventually happen, but not now. Some people even use procrastinating as a tool to avoid their fears. For a young entrepreneur who is afraid of failing, procrastinating might come as a defence mechanism. We don’t want to fail, so we delay trying.
How to stop procrastinating
- First, ignore the distractions
- Think about what you’d like to do and prioritize the enjoyable task first.
- Organize the task into small, bite-size manageable segments.
- Put your intent into words in your head.
- Avoid temptations – Hey !!! stop scrolling through the comments of that Facebook post!!!!
- Go and get your work done!!!
The key to stopping procrastination is learning to trick ourselves. Making things that appear long term seem short term instead. Especially the benefits of not procrastinating. Basically, we need to take small steps. Start small, even if we must do something that we don’t really want. By segregating the task in smaller steps, we manage to trick ourselves into thinking we don’t really have much to do.
One step at a time. Another important thing to remember is that when procrastinating we are often tempted by short term benefits. Sitting in the couch sounds like a better idea than to go to the gym at that moment. Getting distracted by your smartphone rather than making your business plan also sounds like a better idea. Hey !!! stop scrolling through the comments!!!! Go and get your work done!!!
So, what we can do is try to make short term benefits to working instead. After you go to the gym, maybe you can watch your favourite movie. After working hard on your business plan, you can eat your favourite meal. Whatever you must do to START. To take this first step that will then create a natural flow to your work routine. Eventually, you won’t need to watch your favourite movie every time you go to the gym. The routine will come naturally to you, and procrastinating will be less present in your life.
Read Also: Just Start | 3 Solid Tips about taking action and doing what you love
To stop procrastinating is a hard task.
Simply because it is something we do so naturally, so many times. From small tasks to bigger projects, we are often waiting for the next day. However, procrastinating is stressful, and can often impact negatively on our end results. What we can do is try to take smaller steps, divide our tasks to smaller parts. Do a little bit day by day. All that we have to do is a start, no matter what.
What part of this article resonated most with you and why? What’s holding you back from starting to live you’ve always wanted? Are you struggling with procrastination? Share your ideas, tips, thoughts and experience below in the comments.
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