Do you know? By procrastinating, we feel actual physical pain.
Medical imaging studies have shown when procrastinators are given a task to do, and they avoid it.
The pain center of the brain lights up because they feel physical pain just by thinking about it.
It has become a common problem today as we live in a world full of quick fixes and instant gratification.
I have found myself guilty, where I procrastinated my work until the deadline and finish it on the last day.
I am sure you have been there and you know the consequences are not good.
In this article we will talk about Procrastination: What is procrastination and ways to overcome it.
In this article, we will address these topics:
What is procrastination?
Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished by a certain deadline.
In simple words, it is the intentional delay of starting/finishing a task despite knowing it might have negative consequences.
For me, Procrastination is The Biggest Dream Killer. Let me explain to you, why?
I am sure you know of your ideal-self or what you want to become when you grow up.
Now tell me, have you achieved half of what you want to be like?
If Yes, great!
If No, then let me introduce you to your biggest obstacle.
Yes, you guessed it right! It’s procrastination.
There are two types of procrastination, one that has a deadline and the other which doesn’t.
We all are procrastinators, whether you like it or not.
If you complete all your work on time, that’s good; but I am sure you are procrastination on one of your dreams/goals.
Whether it be; traveling the world, opening your business, losing weight, and many more.
We delay our goals to “one day, maybe!” but sadly for most of us that one day never comes.
We don’t even try because we are afraid that we will fail.
This, right here, is where dreams are not fulfilled, and regrets are born.
This is the reason I called it the biggest dream killer. You feel me now!?
If you agree with me, I am sure you don’t want this to happen to you.
Is procrastination a personality trait?
20% of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators.
That’s a lot of people not doing a lot of things.
Procrastination is not genetic, it’s a learned behavior.
There are no procrastination genes within us.
We see others and learn from them and when we repeat a behavior, again and again, it becomes our identity.
So, to answer the question.
Yes, procrastination is a personality type, but the good news is that you can change it.
Anything which is learned can be unlearned and changed.
When you get ill, You are diagnosed in order to know the reason for your illness.
Similarly to stop procrastination you should first know the reasons behind it.
What are the causes of procrastination?
The 4 most common reasons are:
1. Afraid to start
Most of us are afraid to start on a new project or try something new.
The reason behind it is the fear of failure.
Whenever you try something new, you don’t know what is going to be the end result.
Your mind fears the experience of the unknown.
It’s like taking an alternative route on your way home.
It may take you to your preferred destination, but you are not ready to take a chance.
We get caught in the “What if?”.
Eg: What if I hurt myself? , What if I lose my money?
Our brain is good at creating scenarios that don’t even exist.
Hence, we are afraid to start as we don’t want to get in trouble.
2. Comfort zone
We all want to live a happy and content life.
Often, this is the reason most people don’t even try new things because they don’t want to get out of their comfort zone.
Comfort Zone is a psychological state where a person feels in control of their environment, away from stress and anxiety.
Most of us don’t want to leave this zone, but we make no progress inside it.
To grow, you need to leave your comfort zone.
GROWTH lies outside your comfort zone.
3. Waiting for the perfect moment
How many times you have found yourself saying, “I am not ready yet.”?
You think that suddenly the opportunity will present itself and you will grab it.
Hence, you end up waiting for the perfect moment which, sadly never comes.
Waiting for the perfect opportunity is like waiting for a ship at an airport.
You know it would never come, but you keep telling yourself that “in case”.
If Mahatma Gandhi would have waited for the perfect moment, India would haven’t got its independence.
“Do not wait for a perfect opportunity, grab any opportunity and make it perfect.”
There are many questions relating to procrastination but when the question of what is the primary cause of procrastination arises the answer is LAZINESS.
The reason is that it is easier not to do something than to do something.
It is easier to sit on the couch and eat potato chips than it is to work out.
When we procrastinate, there’s a conflict between what researchers call our “should-self”, or what we feel we should do because it’s good for us, and our “want-self”, what we actually want to do at the moment.
eg: I know I should start working out, but I want to eat snacks and watch Netflix.
We listen to our “want-self” most of the time.
This ends up in postponing our goals which you don’t achieve in the long-term.
Now, when we know the causes of procrastination, let’s look at the methods to stop it.
How to stop procrastination?
1. Make a T0-Do List
Making a to-do list gives you a sense of purpose for the day.
Write all the tasks you want to achieve for the day.
Using the phenomena of “Eat that frog” which says that you should complete your most important task as you start your day.
You mark one task as your most important task(your frog) for the day
You need to eat that frog first thing in the morning.
Ask yourself this question every single day: What is the most important thing I need to do today?
Everything besides that task is just a distraction. You can’t touch any other task before you eat that frog!
When you’ll complete your most important task for the day, you will feel a sense of accomplishment.
You will go at the rest of your day with confidence and the purpose of completing all the other tasks on your to-do list.
2. Waking up early
Waking up early is essential to provide structure to your day.
Your willpower is the maximum in the morning.
Consider it as the battery on your phone, it will start going down as the day goes on.
Waking up early increases your productivity and gives you a pleasant rhythm to set your day.
You will spend your day proactively, which will make it difficult to procrastinate.
2. Eliminate temptation
As the phrase goes: “Free cheese is available in mousetraps.”
The same goes for your temptations.
They may feel good at the moment, but they are of no use in the long-term.
Social media and smartphones are the biggest temptations we have in our life.
They suck up on your energy and make you feel tired, which lowers down your efficiency.
Try to have a fixed time of using them or make a goal for the number of hours you want to use them.
It’s been 3 months now and I am going strong on my goal of using my phone for less than 4 hours.
Make realistic goals and keep improving them with time.
The common mistake you make is that you try to make a drastic change all at once!
eg: I will uninstall Facebook and Instagram from my phone and use my phone for 3 hrs only.
It may sound good, but it becomes difficult for us to make such an extreme change.
Hence, we fail and get back to our same old routine.
Don’t make this mistake. Start small and let your wins compound!
4. Find your ‘why?’
Before you make any goal define “Why you want it?”
Every time you procrastinate, ask yourself: Why it is important?
We are always thinking of obligations, not opportunity.
Change your mentality.
FROM: What I have to do?
TO: What I am going to get when I do it?
This provides a huge mind shift and in no time it will inspire you to take action.
Strive for inspiration, not motivation.
5. Move your body
Sometimes when you might have found yourself tired just by sitting.
You get tired just by doing absolutely nothing and you want to fall asleep.
Whenever you find yourself in this position.
Stand up & Start moving.
The way you move is the way you groove.
I go out and start playing with my football.
It could be anything else for you.
The benefit is that it gets your heart rate up.
Which will pump more blood into your body and you will end up getting more energy.
6. War Cry/ Affirmations
It is the same thing that motivates a horde of soldiers to run head-on to a bunch of swords and spears on the other side of the field.
If you have watched the movie 300, you will relate to it.
A war cry focuses you at the moment.
There are many war cries to choose from.
Some people use the count-down method.
Where they count from 5 to 1 and go back to their task.
The Rock(Dwayne Johnson) uses the word “Focus!” when he wants to do the task at hand.
You can also use affirmations to guide you back to your task.
eg: “Do it now!”, “Get back to work!”
They help a lot in getting back your focus and completing your task.
What is the 2-minute rule?
Researchers estimate that 40-50% of our actions on any day are out of habit.
Your life is the sum of the choices you make.
In your life, you will have a choice, and what you choose then will become your behavior in the future.
Similarly, your habit of procrastination has been built on your choices.
When you choose the simple task instead of the important one.
You are laying the foundation of the habit and as you repeat it, you are making that habit stronger.
If you are guilty of this you now must be asking yourself “How do I stop my procrastination habit?”
Don’t worry, The 2-minute rule is here for your rescue.
When you decide to change your life, it motivates you to take action in order to achieve it.
The excitement eventually takes over you and you end up trying to do too much too soon.
Like taking a 10 km run on your first day of exercise, making a drastic change in your diet when you are trying to lose weight.
Now you know why most people can’t follow up with their new year resolutions.
The 2-minute rule states that: “When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do it.”
The idea is to make your habit as easy as possible to start.
The first two minutes of the habit should be easy. The action that follows can be challenging.
What you want is a “gateway habit” that naturally leads you down a more productive path.
You can figure out your gateway habit that will lead to your desired outcomes by mapping them on a scale of “very easy” to “very hard”.
eg: For my habit of reading I created this template:
- Very easy: Bring the book and open it.
- Easy: Read the first page.
- Hard: Read 5 pages.
- Very hard: Read 10 pages.
The “very easy” is your gateway habit, and the “very hard” is your desired behavior.
The point of this exercise is to master the habit of showing up because we must establish a habit before it can be improved.
Start with basics, then optimize.
By creating smaller 2-minute versions of your habit, you can avoid procrastination.
Simply define your gateway habit and keep showing up every single day.
In no time, your desired behavior will become your habit.
How to avoid procrastination while studying?
Most of the people who suffer from procrastination are students.
They live in an environment where they seek novelty in every task they do.
It’s their time to explore the world, but not at the cost of spending their dreams.
The simple habit to study more starts with the 2-minute rule defined above.
If your goal is to “study the full topic”, your gateway habit could be “Bringing your copy and pen to the table.”
This becomes your ritual at the beginning of the larger routine.
This is a hack to master hard habits.
When you continue with your ritual, you are casting a vote for your new identity.
It is better to do less than to do nothing at all.
Apart from this rule, you can also use the points I have used in the “How to stop procrastination” section.
Work on your procrastination right now!
A goal without a plan is just a wish.
Here are some actionable steps to stop procrastination.
Step 1: Identify your primary cause of procrastination. (Reference the list above!)
Step 2: Define your “Why?”
Step 3: Wake up early & Make your to-do list
Step 4: Take breaks to move your body.
Step 5: Use the 2-minute rule.
Step 6: Define your gateway habit
Step 7: Show up every day!
Step 8: Improvise
These steps will help you improve your life and end procrastination.
Note: They are not to be followed in the chronological order as defined above.
Experiment with it and do what suits you best.
Procrastination is the most common habit in today’s world.
To fix it won’t be easy, but I can promise you it would be worth the effort.
Life is not all sunshine and unicorn.
Make your own fate and that could be done by starting today!
In order to get the most out of your day, you need to be productive.
I have written an article on “How to be productive”.
You can read it here.
If you liked this article, make sure you share it with someone who suffers from procrastination.
In order to get more perspective about procrastination.
Watch this video. I am sure you’ll like it.
Tell me your views about this article in the comments section.
Looking forward to having a friendly conversation there 🙂