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8 Steps To Get Yourself Away From Procrastination

8 Steps To Get Yourself Away From Procrastination

For many of us, the stresses and strains of life, in general, can be too much to handle. There is simply so much to think about along the way that getting to where you want to be can be hard work. Procrastination, as ever, becomes a significant problem along the way and can leave you chasing your tail a little bit. Getting away from handling a heavy workload is tough as that massive scale can make you only take on small increments as time goes on.

It’s not always an indicator of your ability – or lack of – but usually of an ability to stay focused and committed to getting the job done. When this happens, you need to be able to move heaven and earth to get yourself moving towards dropping procrastination from your life of problems for good. If you need help in breaking free of the grip of procrastination and never getting anything done, then this should offer the perfect solutions to you by making sure that you try and;

1. Set The Right Goals

The first thing you need to think about is setting the right goals. You might be looking at the end-game as the “right” goal. But, this is the wrong way to look at things. Instead, you need to look and find the best way for you to start building towards the goal. It’s not always about getting to the endgame, but making progress towards that. If you need to look at the goal in smaller increments, then it can help you stop procrastinating as the task feels less gargantuan in size. To minimize procrastination time, set yourself a deadline of 48hrs to work out what the right goals are.

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2. Identify The Motivating Factors 

When we have a motivation to continue to push on even when we feel tired, it can make procrastination a lot easier to overcome. However, this takes a lot of hard work and self-determination to manage, so it will take a considerable amount of work on your end to get to this point. Take a half day or half night and work out what is driving you, why it’s driving you, and how you can make the most of that situation in the near future. Just having a reason which motivates you can be so useful to ensuring that things actually get done.

3. Create a Concrete Action Plan for the Final Goal

How are you going to achieve what you intended to? Do you have a concrete plan for doing so? If not, you need one. When you don’t know how to go about something, it’s a lot harder to actually convince yourself to try and do it. To avoid this problem, you just need to start taking a few hours per day to work out the path to success. Break it down into a small army of minor tasks that can be achieved on an hourly or daily basis. This keeps you moving towards the grand endgame, which is so incredibly useful to understand.

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4. Create a To-Do List for the Day

Now we have a plan to work with and will be able to start moving towards something fresh and innovative in our lives, we need to start looking at building a To-Do list. Making a serious to-do list to follow is as important as seeing through all your objectives. Start by simply creating something that follows the Why, How and When pattern above. In no time at all, this will be built up with a structured list of tasks that can pay massive dividends when you are trying to start moving the project towards overall completion.

5. Set the Timer

How will you go about dealing with the procrastination side of things? You need to have a start date and a start time. Set strict deadlines that fit in with your personal and professional life and ensure that you adhere to them. Meeting targets in this fashion is great for your confidence and for helping you improve as an individual, in the long run, so make sure that you always consider this in your unique battle against procrastination.

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6. Commit Yourself to the Plan

It is essential to follow a schedule in order to be fully accountable to your process and move forward towards progress. When you have clarity, a plan, and a way of going about that plan it becomes so much easier to manage and prepare yourself to do the job that you are being asked to carry out. Remember that avoiding tasks because you could not remember you had to do them, is also called procrastination!

7. Find Supporters

You need to be able to shut off that voice in your head that tells you to come back tomorrow, and the best way to do that is with all of the above. To get the help that you need with self-discipline, find some supporters. Share your goals and plans with people who you know will support and motivate you. It is important that you find the right cheerleaders as the wrong ones will actually pull you down and demotivate you.

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8. Keep on Trying

As always, improving on any areas of your life is not an easy task. Make sure that even if you sometimes fail (even more often than you expected) you should keep on trying, no matter what. Be strong and accomplish your objectives. Remember, do not procrastinate!

Featured photo credit: www.neednudge.com via neednudge.com

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Carles Sabarich

Carles aspires to encourage people to live actively and take charge of their lives.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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