“Now hast thou but one bare hour to live,
And then thou must be damned perpetually.
Stand still, you ever-moving spheres of heaven,
That time may cease, and midnight never come.”
Christopher Marlowe: Doctor Faustus
You’re on the beach of your dreams, under a sunset that flares with every color you can call to mind, plus a few you can’t even name. You’re listening to music that sets your body and soul tingling with pleasure. You’re making love with an intensity of feeling you never imagined could exist.
“All right, time’s up. Move along there now. Next one, please.”
“Your time is up. We haven’t got all day. You should have done all you need to do by now.”
“But . . .”
“No buts. If you can’t manage Nirvana-like ecstasy, plus a world-shaking orgasm, in three point five minutes, that’s your problem. I’ve got a universe to run here.”Advertising
Far-fetched? Not really. That’s where our world is headed. If it can’t be done in a few minutes or less, forget it. No time.
What do you need to slow down for?
I don’t advocate living more slowly for the sake of it. If you want to enjoy life, you need to go slow because that’s what it takes. Strip away enough time and, instead of the image I started this article with, you’re left with a picture on a calendar, a ring tone on your cellphone, and a quick fumble behind the door. The stuff of great experiences? I don’t think so.
Wine has to mature to become great. Cheese needs time to bring out the flavor. Gabble through the greatest poem at the speed of a sports commentator and you’ll be left with disappointment.Advertising
Why rush through life? Do you want it to be over so soon? Doesn’t it take time to appreciate its joys and experiences?
- Time to learn. Time is necessary to learn, to think, to reflect, and to internalize fresh ideas. The more you rush, the more you are forced to stick with what you already know.
- Time to think. Time to plan, to prioritize, and to choose how best to expend your attention and energy. Doing anything in haste increases the risks of missing key elements, making needless mistakes, and wasting effort.
- Time to enjoy. Rushing through an experience robs it of most of its value. Gobbling down a fine meal, leafing through a work of literature with more than half your mind elsewhere, allocating 10 seconds to see the sunset. You might as well not bother.
- Time for others. It’s not only unpleasant and callous to deny the people close to you your time and attention, it’s downright rude. Why do so many relationships break down nowadays? My bet is that those involved simply don’t allocate enough time to spend together, learning how to enjoy one another’s company.
- Time to be creative. You need time to reflect and see the links between items or areas of knowledge. The human brain doesn’t work well with disconnected ideas or pieces of information. In all those “gaps” where they appear to be doing nothing at all, the world’s outstanding creative minds are hard at work reflecting, ruminating, “noodling” with odd ideas—tinkering with patterns and unexpected connections. What you see as the result is a mental iceberg: nearly all the activity that brought it about is hidden below the surface.
- Time just to be. This is the only life you have. How much of it have you missed already because your attention and energy were elsewhere? How much will you still miss, because your days are so filled with activities that there’s no space left to just to live?
Money isn’t a substitute for time. However much you make, without time you can’t spend it or appreciate what you spent it on. Nor is wealth a substitute for love. And making more quick profits is definitely no substitute for true business success.
How much time do you really need?Advertising
How much of other people’s time are you worth? A few minutes? An hour? A day? A year? How long should they take to appreciate the full flavor of who you are as a colleague or a person? Would giving you less time than that mean they sold you short?
Fine, so that’s how much of their time you believe that you’re worth. Now, how much of your time should you give them?
Time is the magic ingredient. Take it away and what’s left is virtually worthless. Rushed, frantic living is no living at all.
Adrian Savage is a writer, an Englishman, and a retired business executive, in that order, who now lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his other articles at Slow Leadership, the site for everyone who wants to build a civilized place to work and bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership and life, and its companion site Slower Living. His recent articles on similar topics include Why a great deal of writing about work/life balance is sadly off the point and Counting your days: A cautionary tale and an idea to get life into perspective. His latest book, Slow Leadership: Civilizing The Organization, is now available at all good bookstores.
Last Updated on September 16, 2019
How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators
You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.
We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.
The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.
Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:
1. Break Your Work into Little Steps
Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.
For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –
- (1) Research
- (2) Deciding the topic
- (3) Creating the outline
- (4) Drafting the content
- (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
- (6) Revision
- (7) etc.
Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.
2. Change Your Environment
Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.
One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.
3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines
Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.
Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.
My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.
Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines
4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops
If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.
Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.
I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.
5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action
I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You
Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.
As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.
6. Get a Buddy
Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.
I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.
7. Tell Others About Your Goals
This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.
For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.
8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome
What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.
9. Re-Clarify Your Goals
If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.
Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?
10. Stop Over-Complicating Things
Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.
Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.
11. Get a Grip and Just Do It
At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.
I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.
More About Procrastination
- 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life
- 10 Best Ted Talks About Procrastination That Will Ignite Your Motivation
- Types of Procrastination (And How To Fix Procrastination And Start Doing)
- What Is Procrastination (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating)
Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com