Procrastination can be defined as the action of delaying or postponing something. Such as an activity or a project, but includes many things. You may have procrastinated that time when you put off going to the gym, writing that blog post, or reading that book.
You might be procrastinating now by reading this article.
Procrastination is nothing new to human nature, but with a few strategies, I outline in this article, you’ll be able to conquer yourself once again and slay the gremlins of procrastination.
Would you have a great empire? Rule over yourself.Publilius Syrus
1. Schedule Your Hardest And Most Important Tasks As Early As Possible In Your Day In Order Of Priority
As you go about your day some things are clearly more important than others. For example, if your goal is to build a successful blog or a great physique then some things take priority.
To develop a great physique the most important things are to eat the correct number of calories and macronutrients for your body, and consistently work out multiple times per week. Because if you consistently did the aforementioned things, within a few years you’d massively improve your physique.
And for building a successful blog you need to prioritise writing good content every day. If you did that, within a few years your blog should grow exponentially.
The examples I’ve mentioned include tasks that are inherently difficult. And procrastination usually manifests when we try to make consistent progress in anything difficult.
What I find helps me tackle the hard things in life such as working out, or writing is to schedule them as early as possible in my day.
Regarding writing, as soon as I wake up I’ll write for an hour and then go to the gym for 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on if I’m doing cardio or lifting weights.
Action – Whatever you’re procrastinating on right now try and schedule that hard task/activity as early on in your day as possible.
You’ll find that you feel a sense of peace and achievement throughout the rest of your day, instead of feelings of anxiety and guilt.
2. Write Down The Benefits Of Doing The Hard Things And The Downsides Of Procrastinating
If you write down the positive reasons for doing difficult tasks, it can add fuel to the proverbial motivation fire.
For example, if you consistently procrastinate instead of going to the gym then you’re sacrificing who you could be for who you are. No improvement, stagnation, and potentially worse health in the long run.
Whereas if you think about the positives, such as feeling the endorphin rush from exercising, having more energy, more confidence and being happy when you look in the mirror, then the decision to work out is a no brainer.
Action: Write down the advantages of completing your difficult task/ activity vs the disadvantages of procrastinating.
3. Have A Disdain For Instant Gratification
Right at the heart of procrastination is instant gratification. It’s the pleasure of regularly eating a family-sized bag of crisps in the moment that sabotages the long term rewards of being at a healthy weight.
It’s the Netflix binge you go on, instead of starting the meaningful project.
Eating crisps and watching Netflix in moderation are perfectly fine things to do, but make sure you get the hard activities (that are a breeding ground for procrastination) out of the way first.
Action: Once you’ve completed activities that you’d normally procrastinate on, give yourself a reward in your downtime. This could be watching Netflix for an hour after a productive workday, and/or fitting in some chocolate into your nutrition plan.
Use Deadlines To Your Advantage
When you have a clear deadline/goal of say losing 2-4 pounds per month (if your goal is weight loss). Or writing a minimum of 4 articles per month (if your goal is to build a blog). You always know what to aim for.
Having definitive outcomes can definitely help fight against procrastination. Because they cultivate a sense of urgency.
As a rule of thumb no deadline no urgency, but if you do have a deadline there will be a sense of urgency.
What About Activities That Will Never Have Deadlines?
Some tasks like building and maintaining relationships, eating a healthy diet, and reading don’t really have clear deadlines.
So what I like to do is think of the end of your life as one ultimate deadline.
If you’re lucky, you get around 80 years or 4160 weeks on this planet, and if you’re reading this article a chunk of them have already been used up.
So what do you want to achieve throughout your life?
Some questions to ask yourself to satisfy the ultimate deadline are:
How do I want to be remembered and what for?
What am I procrastinating on now, that I’ll regret later in life?
What activities although hard, provide me with the most benefits that I’m currently procrastinating on?
Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now take what’s left and live it properly.Marcus Aurelius
Become An Optimist And Have The Belief That What You’re Doing Matters
For example, if you’re writing an article or creating a project that can benefit others, derive motivation from the fact that what you’re doing will make life easier for others and hopefully solve their problems.
If you have this mindset, you’ll instantly make your work more impactful, and have confidence that what you’re doing matters.
Or if you’re working out, think of how much of a better person you’ll be if you become the fittest and healthiest version of yourself. You’ll be a nicer person to be around because you’ll feel healthy. You’ll generally be more productive and sharp in all aspects of your life. And you’ll set a good example for others.
When you look at how the hard things that benefit you (which you normally procrastinate on) actually have a net positive effect on the world around you, you’ll do them for the sake of doing them. No matter how unmotivated you feel at the time.
Motivation comes and goes. It’s the doing of activities that actually creates motivation. You don’t get motivated by doing nothing. You get motivated by doing the hard things consistently enough to see yourself making progress. The progress keeps you motivated and it’s a truly virtuous cycle.
The Bottom Line On A Practical Guide On How To Stop Procrastinating
- There isn’t a single person in this world who doesn’t struggle with procrastination.
- Make sure to schedule your most important tasks as early in the day as possible in order of importance.
- Write down the positives of completing the hard tasks/ activities vs the downsides of procrastinating.
- Have a disdain for instant gratification. It’s at the very heart of procrastination.
- Use deadlines to your advantage, and remember death is the ultimate deadline.