Updated: Dec 15, 2021
The truth about procrastination is that it's all a mindset. Sometimes it works for us, and most times, it doesn't. It usually gets us into trouble. It is interesting that we can move fast if we have to and when our backs are against the wall. Remember waiting until the last minute before doing your chores and then running around like a crazy person before your parents got home. How about the paper for school that was due tomorrow, and you start working on it tonight. When we create these habits in our youth, it is hard to shed them in adulthood.
The habit of procrastination has caused more people to fail in life than any other habit on the planet. There is truth in the old saying, don't put off tomorrow what could be done today. Once we get accustomed to living in procrastination, we feel like we are always behind, delayed, and lacking. The truth is that most people want the best for their lives, and they also want to make positive changes and focus on what matters. However, doing what needs to be done is often associated with inconvenience and discomfort in most cases.
If you want to get fit and have the body of your dreams, then you will have to go to the gym and exercise daily. That will mean sweat and exertion, time and money. Unless you love to exercise, this is not a pleasant thought, and your mind will conjure up a thousand excuses as to why you should procrastinate and save the workout for the next day or maybe even skip it entirely. The same applies to any productive work that will elevate you to a higher level. Our brains are wired to avoid pain and protect us by cooking up multiple plausible excuses for us to avoid what we should be doing. It's important to change your mindset and trick your brain into productivity. Below you will find five tricks that can propel you into feelings of accomplishment and success.
1. The 2-minute rule
Inspired by author David Allen, this rule states that you need to do the activities you've been avoiding for 2 minutes. It doesn't matter whether it's a workout session or writing a report. If you're avoiding it or thinking of procrastinating, give yourself just 2 minutes. This time frame is short enough not to be overwhelming or too uncomfortable. In this way, you will trick your brain so that it doesn't go into self-preservation mode and cook up excuses.
In most cases, you'll notice that once you start, the mental hurdle disappears. You'll often go well past that 2 minutes and take your task to completion. If, after 2 minutes, you're still not in the mood, you can take a break and come back to it later for another 2 minutes. Over time, your mind will get conditioned to accept a higher threshold of discomfort. It's overcoming the inertia and getting started, which is the hardest part of the process. Eventually, you will find yourself filled with motivation, enthusiasm, and a sense of accomplishment. Those are all the new habits that we are aiming for.
2. A Tight Schedule
An object in motion stays in motion, and an object at rest stays at rest. If you want to beat procrastination, it's best to have a tight schedule to maintain your momentum from start to finish without taking too many breaks. Many of the most successful people wake up early and start working on their most important tasks first thing in the morning. Very often, by 1 pm, they're done for the day and are more productive than most people who work till 5 pm. By keeping their routine tight, they moved from one task to another in a rapid fashion and didn't give their minds much time to think of ways to procrastinate. So, you'd be wise to plan your days ahead of time and keep breaks to no longer than 10 or 15 minutes at a time. Once the most significant chunk of your important work is done, you can take a break for an hour or so.
3. Manage your environment
You'd be amazed at how many distractions can pop up and take your attention away from the task at hand. Social media notifications, email alerts, phone calls, other people, etc., can all get in the way of your daily work and disrupt your momentum. This is why highly productive people prefer to work either early in the morning or late at night when most people sleep. Do whatever you can to eliminate most of the distractions during your working hours. You may wish to set your phone on silent mode or even place it in another room if you can't resist the temptation to look at it. If you feel that you may be addicted to social media, consider removing social media apps from your phone to eliminate distractions. I know this seems a little restrictive, but you will be surprised at how much you get accomplished. Another great trick is to remove the Apps from your phone and place them on your tablet only. I discovered that I am not as inclined to check my social media when it's on a different device.
4. Accountability Partners
Your circle of influence is important. Noticed that I did not say circle of friends. It is crucial when you are creating a circle of influence that you don't fall into the trap of letting it be your everyday friends. Unless, of course, they are interested, supportive, and helpful in whatever goals you are pursuing. Just because people are your friends doesn't mean they are on the same level as you regarding goals. Some people are fun and exciting, and maybe you enjoy going out to eat and painting the town, but they are not the ones you want to share your lifelong goals and dreams with. They are also not the ones that will keep you motivated and influence you to do your best. They may very well be the ones that keep you from going forward at a pace that will help you reach your goals quickly and efficiently. Sometimes family can also keep you from being productive and encourage procrastination. They don't mean to, but when you are around loved ones, they often don't give you the kick that you need. You may become so comfortable around them that nothing ever gets done. The way to remedy this is to make your circle of influence, people that you aspire to be like. You want your circle of influence to be full of people that have done precisely what you are trying to do. What's so great about this idea is that you don't even have to know them in person, and they don't even have to be alive. With so many books, podcasts, and videos such as YouTube and Tik Tok, your circle can include anyone. So please don't limit yourself in this area because this is an opportunity for you to spread your wings and create a circle of influence that can propel you to the next level. Be proactive because this can be the most powerful step in overcoming a procrastination rut.
5. Get Focused
OK, let's be honest if you are struggling with procrastination, you probably shouldn't be trying to multitask. The key to getting any one thing done is to do one thing. It's important when you struggle with procrastination to get focus. Get focused on that one thing that's important, and then move down your list. I once heard Les Brown say, "inch by inch, anything is a cinch." It's essential to be intentional about your goal. It's easier to keep your mind clear and to have purpose and intention when dealing with only one thing at a time.
In conclusion, procrastination is a nasty habit that will stop you from achieving your full potential – but only if you let it. Always be aware of what's going on in your mind, and reflect on your daily activities to see if you're procrastinating. From there, it's just a matter of curbing the occasional instances when you neglect your commitments. Purpose yourself to stay on track with your daily goals. Always remember that immediate action will destroy procrastination. So, get started without hesitation. Today is your day.