9 Effective Ways to Overcome Procrastination
- February 2, 2024
- Mental Wellness Tips
- 0 Comments
Are you the kind of person who sincerely wants to become more productive and disciplined, exercise regularly, eat healthy, wake up early, and finish tasks and projects on time? But you just can’t seem to make these things happen for whatever reason.
Every day, you struggle to have actual practice and stick with your goals. You are not alone; almost everyone experiences that feeling.
In this guide today, you will discover the most powerful ways to stop delaying and start getting things done.
Most importantly, you learn exactly how procrastination works, why you do it, and why you can’t seem to stop. You’ll be able to start on tasks earlier, get things done on time, and feel much better about yourself.
Sound fair? Let’s get to it!
Table of Contents
Did you experience any of the following thoughts running through your mind?
- I don’t feel like it
- I’m just not in the right mood.
- I’ll feel more like doing it tomorrow.
- I really don’t want to do this right now.
Procrastination is the act of delaying or putting off something that should be done. You know delaying a specific task isn’t good for you, but you do it anyway.
But the question is, why do we procrastinate on things that are clearly beneficial for us?
Why postpone exercising when it’s good for our health? Why delay studying when it’s what we ought to be doing? And why wait until we receive multiple warnings and face fines before doing our taxes?
In our analogy, the reason behind procrastination is compared to having a monkey in charge of your brain.
This “monkey” is not a real primate but a metaphorical second personality miming monkey-like behavior. The monkey operates based on a simple principle: avoid what feels bad and approach what feels good, aiming for immediate gratification.
The challenge arises when your rational self, representing what you want to do, clashes with the desires of the monkey.
You may want to study for an upcoming exam, meditate, exercise, or focus on an important project, but the monkey has no interest in these activities. None of them seem enjoyable to the monkey; they appear boring, challenging, and demanding – qualities not appealing to a pleasure-seeking creature.
So, when you contemplate doing any of these challenging tasks, the metaphorical monkey in your brain starts rebelling.
You’re faced with a decision between what you want and what the monkey wants, between immediate gratification and long-term success. Giving in to the monkey’s preferences is what we call procrastination.
It involves delaying actions that ultimately benefit you in favor of something more immediately pleasing.
If you find yourself procrastinating frequently, you often let the monkey take the lead.
Procrastinators are often misjudged as lazy and careless, but the reality is quite the opposite: they tend to care deeply. The root of procrastination is typically connected to various fears, such as the fear of failure, success, the unknown, judgment, or disapproval. Consequently, most procrastinators aren’t inherently lazy or uncaring; instead, they grapple with profound emotional issues that necessitate strong willpower and well-developed emotion regulation skills—attributes that the typical procrastinator may lack.
The first viral step is the ability to be aware of procrastination. For example, If you don’t realize what’s going wrong in your life, how do you fix it? You will keep running into trouble. If you don’t see that, you’ll never “feel more like it tomorrow,” and you’ll always rationalize your decision to delay.
The key takeaway is this:
To conquer procrastination, you must elevate your awareness of its various dimensions. You need to pay closer attention and adopt the mindset of a curious scientist—constantly observing, studying, and adjusting your own behavior.
Many procrastinate because they feel overwhelmed, triggering our inner monkey to resist and seek more enjoyable activities. This tendency becomes more pronounced when dealing with significant projects that are naturally challenging and daunting.
The multitude of options, unknowns, and uncertainties can be unbearable for the monkey, leading to rampant procrastination. Questions like where to start, the priority, a reasonable deadline, and what still needs to be done can make it challenging to begin.
The solution to this type of procrastination is simplifying by breaking the project into small, manageable steps.
- First, create a list of tasks.
- Second, plan the order in which you’ll tackle them.
- Third, stop worrying about steps further down the list and focus only on the very next step.
- Fourth, initiate action on that next step.
Stop worrying about getting it all done. Stop worrying about all the things left to do. Stop worrying about what’s still to come. Just keep focusing on the very next step.
Having excessively high standards can be a stumbling block for procrastinators. High standards often manifest when you believe tasks must be executed perfectly or are not worth pursuing.
This mindset might compel you to set unrealistic expectations, such as insisting on meditating for 30 minutes daily as a beginner or committing to a rigorous exercise routine when you’re currently inactive.
For procrastinators, high standards create a range of issues.
The solution lies in lowering your standards to make winning more achievable. Instead of aiming for perfection, just:
- Spend 5 minutes a day in meditation
- Going for a walk a few times a week instead of daily exercise
- Do a small task like five pushups rather than a lengthy full-body workout
Set the bar low for starting, allowing you to initiate action without feeling overwhelmed.
The beauty of lowering your standards is that it facilitates getting started, and once you initiate action, positive outcomes begin to unfold.
When having simple tasks, use the Two-Minute Rule.
If your task takes less than two minutes, do it immediately.
For example, responses to quick emails, washing dishes after cooking, or taking out the garbage tackle these tasks immediately.
Similarly, don’t procrastinate on paying bills – handle them promptly upon receiving them.
This not only lessens feelings of overwhelm but also frees up mental space and provides a sense of accomplishment.
Moreover, it cultivates the habit of initiating and completing tasks. Over time, starting small tasks becomes second nature, paving the way for a similar approach to more significant tasks and projects.
Implementation intentions involve creating straightforward “if-then” plans to condition your unconscious mind to respond in a desired manner when faced with a specific future situation.
It’s about establishing a clear plan: if a particular event occurs, you commit to a specific action.
For instance, you’ll cook a healthy dinner if you arrive home from work. If you sense the urge to procrastinate, then you plan to ignore it simply.
Although these plans may seem uncomplicated, even somewhat naive, they can prove remarkably effective.
They are often referred to as “instant habits” because of their ability to subconsciously influence our behavior positively.
Read more: Why Is Sleep Important for Mental Health?
An outcome is always a result of a process. You naturally achieve the desired outcome over time by consistently following the proper method.
For instance, weight loss becomes a by-product of prioritizing healthy eating, sufficient sleep, and regular exercise.
Similarly, writing 1,000 words daily leads to completing a book, daily football practice enhances your skills, and consistent studying yields good grades.
You can concentrate on the journey’s process or outcome from where you are to where you want to be.
You can either obsessively check the scale daily or concentrate on maintaining a healthy diet for weight loss.
Likewise, building muscle mass allows you to focus on appearance and weight or trust the process by prioritizing nutritious eating and regular gym sessions. Emphasizing the process often leads to more sustainable and effective results.
The first rule of time management is simple: “What gets scheduled gets done. What doesn’t get scheduled doesn’t get done.”
While you may have a to-do list outlining tasks for today, tomorrow, or the future, having a list is just the initial step. The actual effectiveness comes when you schedule specific times for each task.
A to-do list is merely an idea on paper until it’s transferred to the calendar. At this point, it becomes tangible and actionable.
Scheduling short-circuits rationalizations and excuses, making it harder to avoid tasks. Embrace the habit of using a calendar to translate items from your to-do list into scheduled activities to minimize procrastination.
Have you ever experienced this scenario?
Your alarm rings early, and despite feeling exhausted, you hit the snooze button several times. When you finally drag yourself out of bed, you already feel like a loser for waking up late. The rush through your morning routine leaves specific tasks undone due to time constraints.
You hastily head to work, grabbing a quick bagel, arriving late and feeling stressed, tired, and drained.
You need to figure out your most important tasks at work, opting to check email and Facebook and read the news instead. Before you realize it, 30 minutes have passed without accomplishing anything.
Guilt sets in, and worst of all, you still need to be motivated to tackle significant projects.
What just happened?
The day has barely begun, and you are immersed in guilt, stress, disappointment, and negative emotions.
The truth is, the first few hours of the day are crucial. If mishandled, it can set a negative tone for the entire day, making it challenging to turn things around.
Planning your day the night before holds significant importance for several reasons.
Firstly, having a clear roadmap for the morning enables you to start your day with purpose, allowing for immediate progress, a sense of accomplishment, and the generation of positive momentum.
Planning your day the night before is a virtual guarantee that you’ll enter action mode early in the day.
Once you’re in this productive and disciplined state, you’ll likely sustain it throughout the day.
Furthermore, planning helps eradicate those moments of uncertainty when you ask yourself, “What should I do now?” Such moments are when we’re most susceptible to procrastination.
Try your mornings in detail while leaving the remainder of the day open and flexible. For example:
- Cold shower
- Work on the book
- Take a walk outside as a break
- Continue writing on the book
Well, you have it. Congratulations on reading the end of this blog. Getting through this material is vital to achievement for someone who might have been a procrastinator. We hope you’ve loved the content and gained insight into procrastination. We hope you’ll act on the tips and stick with them.
Because that’s the key – taking action. You can read countless blogs and gather fantastic ideas, but they won’t lead to meaningful change unless you apply them.