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This Is How I Stop Procrastination.

This Is How I Stop Procrastination.

It can be hard to stay self-motivated when you’re facing your computer screen. Life gets in the way, and that new Netflix release can look awfully tempting compared to a strenuous session of work.

Time goes by, and before you know it, nothing has been done.

Ultimately, you’re the one who’s accountable for your own work. Even though getting things done can be tough when nobody’s there to push you, you can use a few techniques to get into the groove once again.

Try following these five tips and see if they get you going on what you should be doing:

1.Promise yourself a reward after doing a task

I like to treat myself to something nice, such as a snack or a TV show–but only after I’ve completed a certain amount of work. It’s not a pretty thought when you haven’t started, but it works.

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For example, if I need to write a blog post, I might set a small goal such as doing some basic brainstorming. Once I jot down a number of bullet points, then I can have a small break.

I sometimes find that I’m actually tired and could use a break. Other times, I end up becoming incredibly focused on the task at hand and forget about the break. Either way, I’ve made progress.

2. Break the task down

It’s easy to get excited in the beginning of a project and set big, lofty goals for ourselves. But once the hard work begins, our initial goal just seems too out of reach. We begin to falter. As a result, we give up or decide to do the work “later”.

Instead of setting an overly ambitious goal such as “I’m going to lose 20 pounds by the end of next week”, why not set a concrete, yet manageable goal just for the day? The truth is, we often set goals that require too many steps, overwhelming ourselves.

For example, I might just set one very simple goal. It could just be, “Open a Word document and write down the topic.” That’s it. Then, I might set another mini-goal, such as “Type in a few bullet points.”

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These tiny goals might not seem like much, but they challenge your resistance to getting started in the first place.

3.Warm up first

It can be hard to go straight from waking up and enjoying a nice breakfast to working right away. Why not do a warm-up first?

Doing work can be mentally taxing, especially if you’re still groggy. Instead, you could start off by doing a mental exercise to get you going. This could mean reading a book on self-development or psychology, or solving a Sudoku puzzle.

Physical exercises also do wonders when it comes to starting off the day right. A cardio workout helps you increase your energy and feeling ready to take on the day.

4.Stop analysis-paralysis

Have you ever thought of starting something, but thought that just reading one more article or watching one more video would provide a flash of insight? And then you ended up just reading about it, but not actually doing something.

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Hesitation is part of the process. It’s natural. But if you let it take hold, fear can keep you from starting at all.

Next time that happens, try this: Just let loose. Do something. Don’t get stuck on the idea of being perfect. Just try something out and improve as you go along. It can be intimidating, but also strangely liberating.

5.Think of what will happen if you DON’T get started

Studies have shown that people who procrastinate tend to have “myopia” when it comes to the future. That is, they only see the short-term rewards, but not the long-term effects of procrastination.

Playing a video game in the next hour is much more rewarding immediately than working on a goal, but damaging in the long run if you keep putting off what’s important.

If you find yourself in this situation, try this:

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Imagine the worst situation that will happen if you don’t do something productive.

For example, let’s say you’re at a job you hate and dream of running your own business. You get home tired from work. But instead of researching more into starting a venture, it’s easier to watch TV. Think of what will happen in 10 years. You’ll probably be stuck at the same old job, wondering what could have been if you had taken action earlier.

What is one technique you like to use to get un-stuck?

Featured photo credit: Eneas via flickr.com

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Melissa Chu

Founder of JumpstartYourDreamLife.com

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Last Updated on October 15, 2019

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

Why we procrastinate after all

We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

So, is procrastination bad?

Yes it is.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

How bad procrastination can be

Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

Procrastination, a technical failure

Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

Reference

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