“I’m a procrastinator. How do I stop?”
If you’ve ever spoken those words, you’re not alone.
Each of us wants the gift of time. Time to work efficiently and then move on to the next thing. Time to feel like we’ve been productive and intentional throughout the day.
Unfortunately, most of us stay busy all day long, but there is still never enough time to start working on the goals that matter most.
Unless we do something about our tendency to postpone essential tasks for later, we will continue to live below our real potential.
Here are some suggestions on how to overcome procrastination and get your free time back:
1. Get Better at “Mental Time Traveling”
Several psychological studies have indicated to be more successful at effective forecasting; we need to be more accurate at using our mental images of the future. Whenever you set yourself an intention to do something, picture yourself as vividly as possible working on accomplishing your task. This is mental time travel.
For example, the assignment that your boss gave you several days ago is still not done. It’s due in two days, but you just can’t make yourself get started.
Instead of saying to yourself that you will feel like doing it tomorrow, visualize what tomorrow will BE like. Probably the same as today. Only you will have more tasks at hand and less time to complete them.
The first step to overcome procrastination is to be honest with yourself. If you don’t feel like doing something right now, there is a good chance that you will not feel like doing it tomorrow either. This realization may not boost your desire to complete the task, but it may be enough to push you into starting it today.
2. Think Proactively
When you’re faced with a task that you want to postpone, ask yourself why the urge exists.
Is it just that you find it boring or unnecessary? Or is it because you find it hard to concentrate because you are constantly distracted by the phone ringing, your co-workers talking, new email notifications, people entering and leaving the room? Or maybe you fear that you might not be able to get the task done correctly?
Identifying the obstacles that prevent you from being productive is crucial because the challenges you face today will still be there tomorrow. Proactivity is key.
3. Don’t Rely on Motivation
We hear a lot about motivation and for a good reason. Many people think that motivation is the number one component to be successful in achieving their goals.
In a way, this is true.
You indeed achieve your goals faster when you feel motivated and enthusiastic about completing them.
The catch, though, is that we rarely procrastinate when we feel excited about the task at hand.
We procrastinate because we DON’T feel like doing something. And if we do not want to do something, our motivation level will be low from the start. Of course, you can artificially boost your motivation, but it won’t last long.
Why? Because motivation is based on our emotions.
And emotions aren’t stable over an extended period. When it comes down to success and efficiency motivation is not something you want to count on. It is neither necessary nor sufficient to ensure action. Highly successful people realize that their current motivational state does not need to match their intentions to act. This is why they produce consistent results and are sometimes even more productive when faced with tasks they don’t particularly enjoy doing.
4. Don’t Reason With Yourself
Have you ever felt that inner struggle, when you could not make up your mind? Maybe you’ve tried to and tried to explain yourself why you need to do something?
While it might seem like an excellent way to get your bum in gear, this approach could backfire. After all, the mind is a tricky thing, and it can get very creative when it wants to. When it needs to come up with an excuse for not doing something that it considers ‘difficult’ or ‘unpleasant,’ it does just that. Because of this, reasoning is a drawback in the productive process.
Instead, turn off the logic and act on impulse. Start doing something the moment you think of it, or the first time you hear about the assignment at hand. Don’t wait for the spirit to hit you because it likely will not.
5. Ask for Help
What is one motivator that is stronger than any reluctance?
The desire to look good in someone else’s eyes. This is why we work out when we are at the gym with a personal trainer. This is why we say “yes” to requests and obligations that we do not want to do. This is why we hate to be criticized or told that we are wrong in front of other people.
Our need for respect, appreciation, and affiliation makes us, to a certain degree, prone to what other people think and say about us. In some cases, this is not a bad thing. We can use it to our advantage.
For example, if your goal is to work out three times a week, find as many friends as you possibly can to join the gym with you, make an appointment with a personal trainer, ask your spouse to meet you for a fruit cocktail after your workout, join a forum dedicated to fitness and weight loss, and tell people about your goals.
In other words, ask for help with your accountability.
The more people are aware that you are working out, the more support will you get, and the higher the chances are that you will follow through with your goal.
If you want to spend more time with your family, have more free time to do things that you enjoy doing, become productive and efficient at work, decrease your stress levels, and achieve your objectives, you’ve got to kill your habit of procrastination, and start living your daily life to the fullest.
Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.