Procrastination is when we choose short term comfort over short term discomfort, that would lead to long term comfort. Does that even make sense? Let me elaborate!
Most of us have a clear vision of what our end goal is. However we are also aware that we need to take practical steps towards it. Steps that are uncomfortable, difficult, outside our comfort zone, time consuming or just downright boriiingg! This is where procrastination begins. We choose the ‘safety’ of Netflix over that assignment. Or spend hours watching cat videos on YouTube, instead of tending to that reaally important project that’s due in 2 days.
But then the deadline is soon to arrive and panic sets in. So we desperately try to accomplish the task at the speed of lightening (actually consisting of staying up all night with energy drinks and coffee to give us moral support), while feelings of regret, guilt, self resentment and anxiety begin to loom over us.
Procrastination is a phenomenon that we love yet hate! We keep doing it because wasting time feels blimin’ fantastic. But we hate it because we know we’re wasting time, when we could be practicing productivity instead of procrastination. We know that we can utilise our time and skills in so many effective ways and really bring out the best in us, if only we’d stop procrastinating!
Hey, occasional procrastination is fine. And in fact healthy. Because it’s undoubtedly beneficial for us, to put the world on pause for a while and just relax. But doing it consistently is not healthy and it means that you are a serial procrastinator who needs to break this cycle that you are stuck in. No jail time needed.
How do you stop procrastinating? Follow these steps of course:
1. Break down the tasks into smaller chunks, so that it’s less overwhelming. One of the main reasons why we procrastinate is because of the size and tediousness of the task at hand. That feeling of discomfort that you feel when you think of how you’re going to do ‘all that’, is what makes you NOT want to do it in the first place. Therefore break it down into smaller more attainable tasks.
2. Trick your mind! By not allowing your mind to ponder on what needs to be done. Need to wake up at 6am but you know it’s going to be a struggle? Jump out of bed as soon as you hear that alarm without letting your sleep slumbered mind take over and talk you into ‘5 more minutes’. With repeated practice, your mind quickly becomes accustomed to ‘just doing it’.
3. Write a ‘to do’ list. Actually having a physical list to look at, rather then it all being in your head, makes it far less overwhelming. Structure the list in such a way where you have prioritised the most important tasks first, and the least important last. If any of the tasks are big, break them down too into even smaller tasks, and then tick them all off as they’re completed. Trust me, it sounds like a no brainer, but it actually makes things so much easier to get done! And as you tick them off and you see the list getting smaller, your motivation too will increase.
4. Allow yourself to have break times, and set a time limit for them. If you’re working on a important assignment, give yourself for example, a 20 minute break in between. Set the timer on your phone for 20 minutes, watch a cat video on YouTube, and once it’s up, continue with the assignment. This way your 20 minutes will not turn into 2 hours, yet the break will give your mind a refresher.
5. Practice self discipline in other ways. Another reason why we procrastinate is because of a lack of self discipline. We want a lot, and we imagine that amazing end goal being accomplished. But the little baby steps we need to take to get there – we just cannot be bothered to do because…well it’s boring and hard! This is where willpower and self discipline will pull you along. And if we practice them in other aspects of our life, then it will strengthen our self discipline, therefore making it easier to practice with the important things, like the assignments, and the essays, and all the other not so glamourous things we all need to get done. What can you practice your self discipline on? Simple things. They all add up and they will all help. For example, practice waking up earlier, cut out sugar from your beverages or have a mini workout every morning. Think of your own ways and add to the list!
Procrastination ends when you start to control a situation, instead of letting the situation control you. The more you practice these steps, the easier it will become in the long run.