Admit it or not, we all procrastinate! All in their own sweet way. 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. I know that feeling! Believe me or not, I procrastinate all the time.Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here are some tricks which I found out while procrastinating that will help you stop yourself from procrastinating (a lot of procrastination, eh?):
1. 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/deactivate their Facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic/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.
2. 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/Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies. Identify the people/friends/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/social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.
3. Do the “Right” Kind of Fantasizing.
Fantasies about the future are generally okay to have and are all in good fun. But excessive fantasizing has been proven to be a goal killer and a huge reason people procrastinate (it tends to tie in with perfectionism). According to this study on motivation and fantasies, when you ‘build castles in the sky’ you may be sabotaging real, obtainable goals. The researchers tested subjects on how commonplace fantasizing about their future was, and followed up on their performance on a number of categories. Take those subjects looking for a job. Those who spent more time dreaming about getting a job, performed worse. Two years after leaving college the ‘dreamers’:
- had applied for fewer jobs,
- had been offered fewer jobs,
- and, if they were in work, had lower salaries.
Not good! But we also know that positive visualizations can be motivating and inspire us to push ourselves, so what’s missing?According to this study from the UCLA, the mistake is in what I visualize. Researchers found that those participants who engaged in visualizations that included the process of what needed to be done to achieve the goal (ex: fantasizing about learning another language, and visualizing themselves practicing every day after work) were more likely to outperform their peers. There were two reasons the visualization the process worked:
- Planning: visualizing the process helped focus attention on the steps needed to reach the goal.
- Emotion: visualization of individual steps led to reduced anxiety.
For example, next time you need to send out a proposal, first visualize how you want to do it, including each step, complete the next step, and so on. So don’t fret your day dreams, just make sure you’re not solely focusing on the rewards of the “good life” without remembering the very doable steps that are necessary to make it happen!
4. The First 30 Minutes Of The Day Is Always For Work.
Does this sound familiar: you start the work day/study session by telling yourself you’re “just going to check email/Facebook/twitter/Reddit for 5 minutes, then I’m going to get to work”. Before you know it, 5 minutes has dragged into 2 hours, and 2 hours has dragged into 4 hours, and you realize you’ve spent half your day sucked into a never-ending loop of checking email, social media, YouTube, and your favorite viral news sites?
The first 30 minutes of your day/work day/study session should be spent doing work. If you need to check email or your social news sites, do it once you’ve established a good work groove and you’ll find it much easier to shut it off. Or better yet, block distractions out completely until you’re done. Having trouble jumping into those first 30 minutes? Tell yourself that you’re just going to get 10 minutes of work done and if its just too painful, you’ll give yourself a break. That first 10 minutes is usually all you need to start getting focused.
5. Make Yourself A Date.
Human beings can be strange – if we’re meeting a friend, we’ll set a fixed time to do so, and we show up. Most of us would never make an appointment with a friend and simply avoid showing up for no reason. Yet when it comes to important tasks like going to the gym, or getting another chapter written for your novel, we’ll just set vague goals and feel perfectly comfortable pushing back our self-imposed deadlines.
Start scheduling your important tasks and showing up every time, no matter what. You wouldn’t bail on a meeting with a friend just because you feel a little tired, would you? So why do you do it with the gym? If you want to go to the gym 3 times a week, instead of just telling yourself you’ll go 3 times this week, pick 3 days and 3 times that you’re going to show up, and don’t miss those appointments no matter what.
Here’s One Last Extra Tip.
Stop reading articles about how to overcome procrastination and just get to work!